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Fashion: The science of colour coordination

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Indian skin tones can be widely categorised as being pale, wheatish or dusky. Additionally, you should also know your undertone. Examine the colour of your veins on the underside of your wrists: purple or blue veins indicate cool undertones, whilst warm undertones are indicated by green or olive. If there isn’t a clear prevailing colour, it’s neutral. Indian skin tends to have a warm undertone and a wheatish complexion, allowing it to proudly complement a wide range of hues from both ends of the colour wheel. 

The one rule to remember: warm colours go with a warm undertone, and cool colours go with a cool undertone. Read on to see which colours you should add to your wardrobe immediately!

Purple purpose

Olives and mustard yellows work well for warm undertones & will help you stand out from the crowd; Blazer and pants by Payal Pratap; Earrings by Amama; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)
Olives and mustard yellows work well for warm undertones & will help you stand out from the crowd; Blazer and pants by Payal Pratap; Earrings by Amama; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)

Purple looks good with wheatish medium skin tones and is pleasing to the eyes. An ideal example of this type of skin tone and colour combination would be Priyanka Chopra.

Tips to remember

Purple looks good with wheatish medium skin tones and is pleasing to the eyes. An ideal example of this would be Priyanka Chopra
Purple looks good with wheatish medium skin tones and is pleasing to the eyes. An ideal example of this would be Priyanka Chopra

 Try a coordinated purple pantsuit.

 Pick accessories and footwear in amethyst, lilac or violet.

Expert’s opinion

Esha Bhambri
Esha Bhambri

“The colours for warm undertones like olives and mustard yellow have a warm and soothing feel, making someone stand out from the crowd—pair mustard clothing with tan slippers and an olive green tote bag for any party,” says co-founder & creative director at House of Fett, Esha Bhambri.

Blush pinks & muted oranges

Fair skin tone is a huge canvas to play with most of the colours from the wheel, depending on your undertones; On Sandra (left):Skirt and body suit by Tizzi; Earrings by Amama; Glasses by Burberry; Shoes by Zara; On Elizabeth:Skirt by Erotissch; Top by Zabella; Glasses by Burberry; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)
Fair skin tone is a huge canvas to play with most of the colours from the wheel, depending on your undertones; On Sandra (left):Skirt and body suit by Tizzi; Earrings by Amama; Glasses by Burberry; Shoes by Zara; On Elizabeth:Skirt by Erotissch; Top by Zabella; Glasses by Burberry; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)

If you’re seeking pastel options like Alia Bhatt’s go-tos, blush pink will look great—it works well on everyone with fair skin tones in India. Warm complexions like Deepika Padukone’s pair beautifully with a muted orange.

Tips to remember

Pastel options like Alia Bhatt’s go-tos, blush pink look great on fair skin tones; Warm complexions like Deepika Padukone’s pair beautifully with a muted orange
Pastel options like Alia Bhatt’s go-tos, blush pink look great on fair skin tones; Warm complexions like Deepika Padukone’s pair beautifully with a muted orange

  Wear a sarong like a casual chic skirt.   Accessorise with oversized sunglasses and wear matching stilettos to add more oomph to the look.

Expert’s opinion

Nilesh Parashar
Nilesh Parashar

“The basic colour theory rules are applied here in choosing the colours according to the complexion; a fair skin tone is a huge canvas to play with most of the colours from the wheel, depending on your undertones.

I would recommend a voluminous hairdo with minimal make-up on the eyes and lips for shorter apparel on fair skin tones. For jewellery, maybe just solitaires will be perfect,” suggests designer Nilesh Parashar.

Snow white for dusky divas  

If you are dark and wearing pastels or jewel tones, keep your accessories neutral; Dress by Zabella; Earrings by Amama; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)
If you are dark and wearing pastels or jewel tones, keep your accessories neutral; Dress by Zabella; Earrings by Amama; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)

White truly brings a glow to the complexion, especially when combined with a dusky skin tone. Radhika Apte has, many a time, wowed in white.

Tips to remember

White truly brings a glow to the complexion, especially when combined with a dusky skin tone. Radhika Apte aces the look
White truly brings a glow to the complexion, especially when combined with a dusky skin tone. Radhika Apte aces the look

  A simple white jumpsuit can be a statement piece, but selecting the right accessories is key, because along with accentuating the outfit, they also need to break the monotony. Try a red clutch to add some drama.

  Wear high heels because jumpsuits make you look shorter.

Expert’s opinion

Isha Bhansali
Isha Bhansali

“Accessories play a vital role in case you are experimenting with colours. If you are dark and wearing pastels or jewel tones, keep your accessories neutral, not overpowering,” advises celebrity stylist Isha Bhansali.

Cool neons & warm orange

Blue or olive eyeshadow or hair colour looks great with the dark gold base on any skin tone; On Ritika (left): Top by Zara; Pants by Tizzi; Earrings by Soulful; On Elizabeth:Top by Drawn; Pants by Zara; Shoes by Forever 21 (Raj K Raj Raj K Raj)
Blue or olive eyeshadow or hair colour looks great with the dark gold base on any skin tone; On Ritika (left): Top by Zara; Pants by Tizzi; Earrings by Soulful; On Elizabeth:Top by Drawn; Pants by Zara; Shoes by Forever 21 (Raj K Raj Raj K Raj)

Vivid, eye-catching neons like “highlighter green” have found their way into wardrobes and, happily, it suits just about any skin tone. Take cues from both Sara Ali Khan and Bipasha Basu.

Tips to remember

(Right) Sara Ali Khan and (left) Bipasha Basu wearing vivid, eye-catching neons
(Right) Sara Ali Khan and (left) Bipasha Basu wearing vivid, eye-catching neons

  Anyone who has light skin and warm undertones can rock the neon ’80s look. You can go all neons, from stilettos to hair clips.

  Bright orange might often end up in your wardrobe if you have dark skin and warm undertones. Increase the proportion of warm undertone-enhancing colours in your looks to keep your look balanced.

  Don’t be afraid of experimental cuts, or keep it simple with tank tops and sneakers.

Expert’s opinion

Eishita Puri
Eishita Puri

“Blue or shiny olive eyeshadow or hints of them in your hair colour looks great with the dark gold base on any skin tone,” says Eishita Puri of Eurumme.

Jewel tones 

If you are fair and going to wear jewel tones, choose accessories with minimal colours; Saree by Dolly J; Earrings, bracelet and ring by Prakshi; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)
If you are fair and going to wear jewel tones, choose accessories with minimal colours; Saree by Dolly J; Earrings, bracelet and ring by Prakshi; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)

For fair women especially, jewel tones work wonders. A perfect example would be Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s silver studded dress that she wore on the Cannes red carpet.

Tips to remember

For fair women especially, jewel tones work wonders. A perfect example would be Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s silver studded dress that she wore on the Cannes red carpet
For fair women especially, jewel tones work wonders. A perfect example would be Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s silver studded dress that she wore on the Cannes red carpet

  Try an original, unique hairstyle to draw people’s attention. 

  The look is given more oomph and drama with make-up that really pops.

Expert’s opinion

“If you are fair and you are going to wear jewel tones, choose accessories which have minimal colours,” advises Isha Bhansali.

Coral crush

The classic combination of coral orange with blue skies stands out on a range of indian skin tones; Tracksuit by House of Fett; Shoes by Aldo (Raj K Raj)
The classic combination of coral orange with blue skies stands out on a range of indian skin tones; Tracksuit by House of Fett; Shoes by Aldo (Raj K Raj)

The broadest spectrum is found in the colour coral. The more vibrant the coral, the better it appears on someone with a dark complexion. In the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Manish Malhotra expertly played with this colour palette to create some iconic looks. 

Tips to remember

In the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Manish Malhotra expertly played with this colour palette to create some iconic looks
In the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, Manish Malhotra expertly played with this colour palette to create some iconic looks

  For an athleisure look, try coral track pants and a crop top with your sneakers or trainers. 

Expert’s opinion

“The classic combination of coral orange sun with blue skies during sunset is likely to stand out against a wide range of Indian skin tones,” says Eishita Puri.

Gemstone glamour

All skin tones should embrace all colours, but style it smartly to balance it; On Ritika:Body suit and skirt by Tizzi; Boots by Steve Madden; Earrings by Prakshi; On Sandra: Dress by House of Fett; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)
All skin tones should embrace all colours, but style it smartly to balance it; On Ritika:Body suit and skirt by Tizzi; Boots by Steve Madden; Earrings by Prakshi; On Sandra: Dress by House of Fett; Shoes by Zara (Raj K Raj)

The rich look of gemstones gives the wearer an aura of luxury; you’ll see many a star create a show-stopping moment on the red carpet in aubergine, vivid emeralds, magenta, and plums or vivid emerald.

Tips to remember

Here is only one rule when choosing jewel tones: consider the warm and cold undertones of the colour. And actors (left) Deepika Padukone and (right) Freida Pinto are following it
Here is only one rule when choosing jewel tones: consider the warm and cold undertones of the colour. And actors (left) Deepika Padukone and (right) Freida Pinto are following it

  There is only one rule when choosing jewel tones: consider the warm and cold undertones of the colour. A golden orange will turn you into a fashionista if you have light skin. Sumerian shawl drapes in an ash brown jewel tone with boots will look stunning on someone with dark skin.

Expert’s opinion

“All colours look good on all skin tones if styled aesthetically and all skin tones should embrace all colours, but style it smartly to balance it—the best example is Marilyn Monroe’s iconic flesh-coloured nude dress; the idea was to match the dress with her skin tone,” says Isha Bhansali.

From HT Brunch, October 8, 2022

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