When you start looking for your dream dress, you will soon discover how many variables there are in terms of silhouette, necklines, fabrics and amount of detail. Some Brides know what they want early on, others have to try their way forward until the right design crystallizes.
When you finally find yourself in the perfect dress, it is worth paying attention to the shade of the fabric – even though it might look “just white”. Not only is this about style preference: some colour and beauty science lays behind it all too.
And we will tell you how this works, so carry on reading!
The result of choosing the right colour is that the dress will make the best out of your complexion and overall look, especially when the photos have developed. The perfect dress will fit your body and style, and the perfect colour will make your skin glow and complete the picture. Even just a small difference could make a big improvement.
So when you shop for your dress, you should look for a dress that will not make you look ghostly or sick in photos; I. e too yellow, green or grey in your skins appearance.
When I was hunting for a dress I was told to avoid ivory dresses. I couldn’t work out why until I tried a cream dress (which is a rich type of ivory), then it was obvious – it made my skin look yellow.
Not wanting to look like a chicken on my wedding day, I decided on off white lace with a blush underlay, which balanced my complexion as neutral beige skin colour.
Before I got married I had no idea how complex it could be. Since then I’ve come to realize how much easier it would have been if I had read up on it beforehand, and that is why I want to make sure that you know!
In my research I found most wedding dress colour guides that recommended wedding dress colours according to skin shade categories such as Dark, Olive, Medium, and Fair skin. But the common thread in all guides: it does not matter what shade of skin you have – in every shade, the deciding factor is whether you have a warm or cold undertone. A particular skin shade might be likely to be one or the other, but that doesn’t mean it can be generalized for all.
When you look for a dress colour that suits you, be advised the darkness or lightness of your skin does not determine of how good a fabric looks on your skin. Please ignore those guides. Your ethnicity or tan does not influence the beauty and compatibility of your dress whatsoever – what will look good is only depending on your skin undertone.
I repeat: the actual visible shade of your skin does not matter!
Let’s begin with some basics. I have included darker colours in this guides as Brides more and more frequently choose dresses beyond the standard whiteish colours. A champagne, lavender, mink or nude underlay gives gorgeous dimension and extra personality to the dress, making it a perfect choice for modern Brides.
Wedding Dress Colour Overview
Pure white The brightest, crispest white you can find – it might even give blue/ UV shadows in some photos. This color looks stunning against warm undertones.
Winter white/ Off white A shade below pure white. It is less stark and more wearable for all skin tones and is a great option for Brides with cooler undertones, as it is a neutral wedding dress colour.
Ivory: Ivory is a warm colour – so great for cool undertones. If you are pale skinned, ivory won’t make you seem grey like a pure white color does.
There are so many shades of ivory ranging from eggshell, milk, almond, candlelight, creamy, dark ivory that begins to blend into light beige. Some ivory dresses have yellow in them, making them look more buttery, while others are just a softer shade of white. Cool undertones look fantastic in creamy ivories, whereas they should be avoided if you have warm toned skin.
Champagne Champagne, sometimes called Light Gold or Rum pink, is often used as an underlay for an ivory lace gown to create depth and make the pattern of the fabric stand out. A medium neutral colour, it is a great hue for all skin undertones – it is beautiful both on warmer and cooler skin tones.
Blush A faint warm pink with hints of beige, blush generally works for all skin tones.
Pink or millenial pink Is bluer than blush, and therefore complements skin with warm undertones very well.
Mauve and Lavender are similar as both being shades of purple, Mauve being darker and slightly more grey.
Mink / Oyster may appear visually the same, the difference is that mink being warmer towards pink, and oyster slightly cooler, towards beige
Wedding dresses with light mink or oyster hues gives the wedding dress extra dimension used as an underlay below tulle or lace.
Oyster will complement both warm and cool undertones, and Mink a cool undertone
Nude is similar to Champagne but visually appears warm and more peachy. Cool undertones means a warm colour such as nude will work well.
How do I know if I have a warm or cool skin tone?
There are three different undertones – cool, warm, and neutral. (Do no mix up Neutral with the colour Nude!) Knowing your skin tone can be helpful in many ways– it can help you finding your perfect wedding dress, as well as working out the right foundation, eyeshadow and lipstick colour – even hair colour – for you.
Your skin undertone, is different from your skin shade, A.K.A your complexion, which is the colour of your skin. It is beginning to sound complicated I know, but how to best describe it is: you can have either shade of skin such as dark, medium, olive, fair – but your undertone could be warm or cold, independent of the skin shade.
So this means you can have an olive skin shade with either warm or cool undertones.
Skin tone/ Complexion = the shade of your skin. For example dark or light.
Undertone = If your particular tone is warm, cold or neutral.
Your under tone will remain the same despite how tanned you get, even if you’re pale in the winter and tan in the summer.
How to find out:
Find a natural light source, ideally outdoors or by a window. Look at the color of the veins on the inside of the middle of the underarm. Not the veins directly on your wrists – their colour is most likely to be purple or blue on most Brides as the skin is thinnest there. Hold up your arm in the natural light and determine the predominant color.
- If your veins appear slightly green, you have a warm skin tone.
- If they seem blue or purple, you have a cool skin tone.
- If you can’t tell if your veins are green or blue, you may have a neutral skin tone. If you have an olive or beige complexion, you might fall into this category, but any skin shades could be neutral.
Note that you’re veins aren’t actually blue or green—they look it because you’re seeing them through your skin.
Ok I know my skin tone now – what colour dress would work?
We made the colours more intense on the computer as to show the differences – the actual fabric in the shop will probably be much lighter with less colour contrast.
The basics of the “wedding dress colour science” is to balance out your skin undertone with the opposite “temperature” colour to achieve an optium balance that will complement and not override or amplify your skin colour.
So, lets say you have warm undertones – then cooler colours from the left hand side panel such as a pure white, cool pink, lavender and any blue tones which will work well. You can also wear off white, champagne, blush and oyster as these are neutral.
If you have cool undertones, you should rather go for warm hues such as ivory, cream and nude which will complement you beautifully. Neutral colours from the middle panel will also work.
Some colours are neither warm and cold I. e they are Neutral: these are off white, blush, oyster and champagne. Remember that all Neutral colours can complement a undertone from any category.
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you think about it it makes sense: something cooler will cool you down if you are warm, and something warmer will warm you up when you are cold. It is the same for wedding dress colours, funnily enough!
Having a neutral undertone doesn’t mean you have to wear neutral fabrics only – in fact it means you can pull off all colours.
In fact: If you are lucky to have Neutral undertones, you are blessed with the option of looking good in ANY dress colour.
Likewise if you have settled on a dress such as champagne or off-white, which are regarded Neutral, you can wear it regardless of your skin tone.
(Don’t get Neutral mixed up with Nude – Neutral is means the colour is neither warm or cold, Nude is a colour, which happens to be warm 🙂 )
Warm undertones look great in cooler colours such as pink, and neutral such as blush
Neutral undertones can look wonderful in either white, off white or ivory.
If you have warm under tones, white and off white will complement you.
Neutral undertones look good in any dress colour, such as off white.
It is worth noting that these days, as well as white and ivory – most dresses are available in blush and champagne.
If you think that a more unusual colour is the one for you, allow time to find that dress, or visit a reputable wedding dress maker than will make your dream dress in the fabric of your choice.
Remember this is just a guideline, and it is not ALL about undertone – also your hair, eyes, lips and even your bouquet. This is why a consultant will be vital to help you choose. Personal preference should decide – your groom will probably think any of them look “white” 🙂
Whichever color you choose for your dress, be sure to adore it and love how you look in it. The difference in colour is sometimes extremely subtle and therefore don’t let it be the final deciding factor should you find the perfect dress in the “wrong”colour. Each wedding gown is special and beautiful, especially when a happy bride is wearing it.
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