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Choosing Wedding Colors - How to Flatter Every Member of Your Wedding Party
Congratulations! You're getting married! You've chosen a date for the wedding, or maybe not, and all your friends and family are thrilled for you. You've chosen your maid / matron of honor, and just the right number of bridesmaids. Now you have it easy, because you, as the bride, will probably wear white, but what color do you choose for the members of your wedding party?
Because of the different ranges of skin tones and hair colors, what colors will look good on the majority of your wedding party, and save you time, trouble, stress and bother on your special day? Let's begin with a brief discussion of skin tones and color theory.
Colors generally can fit into two categories: Warm and Cool. Let's start with warm colors. Warm colors are those that have a yellow base to them. Obvious examples might be orange, golden brown, rust, lime green, peach and the beautiful rich tones of autumn. There are warm variants of nearly every color in the rainbow, including black, which, when you add yellow to it, leans toward a richer brown color. Warm colors look best on women who have that same yellow undertone to their skin.
How do you know whether you are warm colored or not? Start with your skin! Women (and men) with warm skins, especially for fairer-skinned women, will have bluish or pinkish areas around the eyes and sometimes on the eyelids. These individuals' skin is usually milky white with either an obvious or subtle veil of golden freckles on the arms, hands or the face. Their knuckles may appear to be blue/gray and white in between.
Cool colors are those that have a blue base to them. Obvious examples would be navy blue, charcoal grey, black, true red, silver, and bright rose pink. There are cool variants of nearly every color in the rainbow as well. Cool colors look best on women who have that same bluish undertone to their skin.
How do you know if you are cool colored or not? Start by considering whether you tan easily or not. Cool skins will tan more easily than warm skins. An olive skin, which appears yellow on the surface, actually has a blue undertone, and can frequently look sallow or jaundiced in the wrong colors. If you have freckles, look for a more taupe-toned color to the freckles versus a golden brown color. The taupe-toned freckles will indicate Cool skin.
For women-of-color, they will be predominantly cool in their category, with very cool skin tones having a deep violet or plum brown color, moderately cool skin tones having a red-brown color, and even some combination cool / warm skin tones with a copper brown appearance. So now that we've given you some guidelines on cool and warm skin tones, what colors will look good on most skin tones? To ease your mind somewhat, I'll tell you that the majority of women are cool-toned in their skin. That makes your challenge a little easier. The majority of cool (blue-based) colors will look good on these women. A medium tone (rather than a bright or deep color like Sapphire blue or Emerald green) will flatter the majority of cool skin tones and allow for those women with less contrast between their hair and skin color to avoid looking pale or washed out.
If you are dealing with a group of high-contrast women (think of the difference between Snow White's hair and her skin), then jewel tones will add drama and elegance to their appearance, and those colors will flatter the majority of your bridesmaids. If you are dealing with a group of lower-contrast women (ash blond or medium brown hair on Caucasians, for instance), then moving toward lighter and medium-toned colors will flatter this type of woman more. Stronger jewel-toned colors will tend to wash out their complexions and make them look pale. If you are a woman-of-color, and all your bridesmaids along with you, then your job in picking colors can be a little easier. Woman-of-color, especially those with medium-to-dark skin tones, can carry off rich, deep color with style.
Jewel tones are beautiful against rich, dark skin, and the medium tones will also work well. Remember that woman-of-color, especially if lighter in skin tone and hair color, can also be Warm, and thereby deserve a little extra consideration. There are also woman-of-color who can wear either warm or cool colors with equal ease and so make picking colors a lot easier. In that case, you only need to consider the depth of the color you're working with (sky blue vs. medium blue vs. sapphire blue vs. indigo blue).
To make your final decisions on color, take your bridesmaids with you when choosing colors and drape a swatch of fabric near their faces. If the skin responds by looking brighter, smoother, and there is increased sparkle in their eyes, you've found a winner! If their skin responds by taking on a shadowed appearance, looking blotchy, washed out, or seems to lose brightness, that's not their most flattering color. Take these tips into account when choosing colors for your wedding, and you'll have cooperative, happy bridesmaids who look gorgeous for your pictures.
The Trend of The Moment in color may not be the best choice for your bridesmaids, or for you! One sure way to determine the best colors for you and your wedding party is to contact a professional Color Analyst (check the Yellow Pages, the internet or ask a friend) and have a cool / warm color draping done. Fees will vary according to experience. Ask to see a portfolio of Before and After photos to help you see what effect the right colors can make on your appearance. Your wedding experience will be so much more pleasant if you take your bridesmaids' color value into account and your wedding album will reflect a more beautiful ending to your special day.
Written by Dianne M. Daniels, Certified Image Consultant