The Three Colors You Should Never Wear

Color and the ones we wear are on my mind more than ever these days for many reasons. I know it to be a tonic for our moods and have found my own wardrobe sadly lacking lately, just when I need it to cheer me up. I’ve been digging back into my color theory books and chatting with color consultants who all have varying ways to determine a woman’s best personal colors.

Let me start by saying there is no right or wrong way to type a person’s colors and the variety of ways seems endless. Part of my training to be an image consultant included color and how to determine a person’s most flattering colors. The system I learned was based on the teachings of Suzanne Caygill. Your personality and essence was an important feature in determining what colors and styles harmonized with you.

I am getting several color analyses done (virtually) and will keep you posted. I’m not sure color typing translates that well online because of lighting and variations in monitors but we shall see.

While I put more of my thoughts together about our colors, I thought I would share the 3 colors every woman should avoid. It doesn’t matter what season or color type you’ve been slotted into, these are universal and just a good idea.

Also – Personal Color Analysis: Is It For You?

Here are the three colors you should never wear:

A Color You Really Dislike

I suspect many of us have looked at the fabric or paper fan of colors we’ve been told are flattering for us, and see colors we don’t like. I certainly have. Don’t wear them. Wearing a color that you instinctively dislike is like taking bitter medicine. Research shows that the colors you wear affect your mood so if you dislike a color, wearing it won’t make you feel confident.

My color fan is too old to be of any benefit to me and contains many colors I would never wear. Those colors may have flattered my coloring, back in the day, but I disliked them so I never bought anything in them.

A Color That Drains You

The color that leaches life from your face and makes you look and feel older than you are. For many women, that’s black but it could also be a heavily saturated or bright color that’s too vibrant for your personal coloring. I like to say it enters the room before you do and so you feel overpowered by it. It could also be too pale for your complexion which makes you look and feel washed out.

Any Color With Bad Memories

Life is certainly too short for this. If you had to wear a certain colored uniform to school and it still gives you the heebie-jeebies, don’t wear it. If a certain color reminds you of a sad, traumatic, or tragic experience, I suggest you give it a pass. Our clothes should excite us and bring us joy.


  • I love red but I never wear it because it feels overpowering.
  • I never wear orange because it makes my skin look sallow.

I don’t have a color with bad memories, do you?

What color do you avoid at all costs?

Be well, be kind, and wear what makes you feel confident.




  1. Purple. Hate it. Always have. I know I’m a rarity in that. I can handle lavender, but anything drifting into purple–maroon, cornflower–sets off my “purple nerve.” I don’t like the neons, especially in large swaths of solid color. I like earth colors, warm colors. I wear a lot of red. I sometimes wonder if I had some forgotten childhood trauma involving purple because I do have a visceral negative reaction to it.

    1. marlene alves says:

      Kay~I am a very senior lady (mid-80’s); for a good part of my life the color lavender would make me feel nauseous, just to see it! One day in my 50’s, my mother gave me a box that held some of my baby/childhood clothes. She pulled out a little lavender dress with rosebuds on the bib, “This was your 3rd birthday party dress; you & your 5 guests all had chicken-pox, so we went ahead with the party.” From that subconscious memory until the day it became conscious…the nausea went away; instead I came to love the color and purchased a lovely raincoat in that exact color. Who knew?!

  2. Great advice on the 3 colors to avoid! Where did you find that beautiful swirl of colors in your post today? If it’s an outfit, I would wear it. If it’s food, I would eat it. If it’s a painting, I would buy it for my house. Love it!!

  3. I got stuck in a neutral track on my wardrobe until I forgot the great fun of wearing color. It brightens up my face. I just bought some medium range pinks, some black check gingham, floral mix and a pretty medium blue. Now I look forward to getting dressed.
    I feel better in primary colors and versions of them. Lighter for summer, darker for Winter. For instance, med pink for summer and move toward pure red for winter. Light wash or white pants as in denium for summer and darker wash for winter.

  4. Barbara Lembo says:

    I too had my colors done back in the 80s! And never revisited that list since it was a good list. Now (once I can get to my stylist again!) my hair is a little different color and I believe my complexion/skin tone may be paler that it was in my 30s. I was labeled as a summer or cool tone. My mother was a warm tone. I too saw color suggestions I just never wore – pale yellow being one of them. Just never thought it looked right on me. With a little adjustment in makeup I can go into some of the greens that warm tones can wear but I don’t do it often. I never wear orange or gold (remember these are the faves of the 70s?) It wasn’t until I had my colors done that I figured out why I seemed to have to wear much more blush and lipstick when I tried to wear them. I will watch with interest how Jennifer’s colors work out. She and I are similar in tonality although my hair is a bit darker but eyes and complexion are similar. Thanks for posting on this one Jennifer.

  5. Purple and any shade of red or blue that leans purple are out for me. I LOVED purple for many years both in my wardrobe and my home, but when that era of my life was over (divorce trauma), I have found that part of the color spectrum to be particularly abhorrent and I avoid it all cost, in all items.

  6. Oh my favorite subject! As an artist I love the mysteries, power, and language of color , as a designer my daughter works with it every day…so it’s in our lives in a big way on a constant basis.
    Color is such a magical thing, and studying it is fascinating to me especially in terms of the energy of it and how we are affected by it. How light affects it. How businesses use color to influence customers, hospitals and correction facilities use it to calm and heal people.
    How the wrong combinations are jarring to the senses and how clever Nature is with it.
    I’ve so much appreciated your color consultant referrals in your posts. I was trained by a woman who developed her own theory based on color science. I’ve found it to be very accurate.
    Theories that include a correlation between color and personality interest me.

    One very important thing that I found is that we each see any given color and respond to it differently. A friend used to tell me I shouldn’t wear “orange” lipstick when I saw the color as pinky-coral. My daughter will see a color as blue when I see it as aqua. So whenever we talk about a color, I need to see a visual example.

    There are colors I find depressing.. some sage greens and smoky dulled blues and pinks. Mauve. Remembering the “ country “ colors of the 80’s.
    They don’t resonate with my energy. And seem to deplete the light and life around them. Whereas, spring green always attracts and energized me.
    I love the richness of burgundy but can’t wear it. Black sucks the life from me. Orange makes me feel like a glowing pumpkin. IA warm red is flattering to my skin and hair but I feel like I’m screaming for attention so rarely wear it. I am finding lately that I’m attracted to more blue than in the past. It’s nurturing and calming.

    One concept I struggle with is the idea of neutral colors or skin tone. ( neither warm nor cool ) I’m still digging into that theory. My training is all about warm and cool undertones and other features.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences with color. As we mature, it seems our skin changes and we need to adjust our colors. It would be hard to convince me that we change from warm to cool or cool to warm coloration, but I’m open to all ideas. Color is it’s own alchemist.
    Btw.. for those who love vibrant color, look at the art by Dorothy Fagan and Wolf Kahn. Two of my contemporary favorites. They have mastered the magical interplay of colors.

    1. My Mom was a stitchery artist and I am a weaver…so I learned early on that there are many “reds” for example. She taught me to use the names given to Artist quality oils and watercolours because these have been a standard of sorts that is at least a couple of hundred years old….so much clearer to talk about “Paynes Grey” than some weird name that was thought up to sell a colour but no one has the foggiest idea exactly what it might look like 🙂

  7. Julie Anne says:

    White tops are what I avoid. Beige, tan, ivory – any of these neutrals are better and much harder to find.

  8. I love your take on colors to avoid. I work in women’s retail and I always tell my customers that while its good to break out of your fashion box, if an item or color doesn’t make you feel attractive, don’t buy it.

    For me personally, I have a strong negative reaction to navy and gray combinations. They remind me of the school uniforms that I wore for 13 years.

    1. My high school uniform colors also and I also have a strong negative reaction to this combination. Oddly I am ok with navy and white, my elementary school uniform.

  9. How to get your colors done without spending money: Go into some great clothing stores with someone who really cares about you…best friend, daughter, etc. Go thru the racks and hold up differently colored clothes to your face. Ask for an opinion. Look in the mirror.

    Some colors will illuminate your face. Others will drag it down. Remember which is which and, in the future, buy clothes in those colors. Do the same for your friend/relative. There will be at least one color surprise, I betcha. I never knew about the magic of teal or purple for me until I did this with my daughter.

    1. The reflection bounced up to our face tells the whole story.

  10. Years ago my color diagnosis designated me as an Autumn. I found that those colors worked well for me and stuck with them over the years. I tend to avoid bright orange, yellow and most pastels in general. I will be adventurous and try on colors or color combinations I have never worn. I would wear beige but dress it up with golden toned accessories. Too much black can be harsh so I will mute it with bright accessories to add a pop of color. A new hobby I have revived is shopping on EBay for fabulous vintage lucite jewelry to add lovely pops of color to my outfits. I love wearing an armload of lovely vintage bangles.

    1. How fun! I love bangles but my hand is too large for many. Lucite it so perfect for stacking.

  11. I had a Color Me Beautiful consultation in the 80s and am definitely a winter. I’ve stuck with those colors through the years for the most part. When I’ve strayed, I’ve regretted it. I love that my wardrobe mixes and matches beautifully and that I feel good in any of the bright, clear colors as well as black, navy, gray, and white. I love blue-red (definitely my signature color), but am on a mission to add more bright pink and cobalt blue for variety. I’ve decided to experiment with letting my hair go silver since it’s become my quarantined look whether I like it or not. It will be interesting to see how my silver works with my current palette!

    1. Expect your colors to shift. You certainly won’t go warm if you’re a winter but you may need softer contrasts.

  12. There are many colors that just don’t work for me, so I have fired them. Beige and dove grey are two of them. Neon colors are too overpowering. Muddy colors wash me out…earth tones, all of them. Clear, bright jewel tones are my favorites and they are in my color family. That is not a coincidence. The colors that make me feel good are the colors that suit me.

  13. I love the idea of color analysis. We will always look fabulous, everything will coordinate beautifully. Maybe we will even find a signature color. In reality, I didn’t love the colors chosen for me. I bought items because they were the right colors, not because they sparked joy, and ended up with a closet I didn’t love. Also, certain colors will always be more appropriate for the season, event, setting.

  14. Phyllis Hughes says:

    There are definitely colors that I dislike wearing: orange, yellow, lime green, and avocado green. I don’t have those colors in my house either. I don’t wear beige either, but I think that is because my mother always wore beige and it looked terrible on her.

    I love to wear periwinkle blue, a soft raspberry, turquoise, and blue greys. I find all of those colors flattering to my skin tones and hair. Also, cranberry.

    I’ve never had my colors done, but would love to do so. I wonder about the consultations done on line. The variations in colors on screen can be drastic.

  15. My color that I have a strong dislike of is orange. Any shade if it! Good thing I didn’t go to UTA! I also dislike an intense yellow so I never wear it either as a main color. I realize bits and pieces of either color in an outfit won’t ruin it for me so there have been those time when I did wear something that contained a bit of either.

    I mostly wear blue! It’s my favorite color in this world. Blue in any shade!

      1. Brenda Starcher says:

        I’m also a lover of blue. I love all shades except the very pale blues.

  16. What an interesting post! I am excited for you to share what you learn. For me, tan, grey, and yellow are deal breakers. I am a fair skinned brunette, and those colors just do nothing for me. I am not a fan of pastels either. I feel my best in strong pure colors- red, royal blue, and yes, black.

  17. I had my colors done a couple of times in the 1980’s, and could use a refresh. I’m a summer, and I like those colors, I just found it harder to actually find those colors. It is a bit discouraging, when the stores buy so much black. I am very interested in where you are getting your colors done virtually, and to see the results.

  18. Karen Dodd says:

    In the late 80’s I had been trained to do color analysis . The theory was from the book Color me Beautiful. One specific idea was, as we age our skin also tends to gray just as our hair does.
    With that being said, Some of the brightest colors in your palette may become to strong for you .
    So if true, Being a winter then, now some of the clearer summer colors may look better on us.
    My mother had always wore Autumn colors, as she aged , she felt better in the Spring Colors.
    Keep in mind, Your undertones Cool or warm do not change with age. Hope this helps.
    My unhappy colors are brown, beige, and cream.

    1. Then, of course, there is skin tone vs undertone. They aren’t always the same.

  19. It will be interesting to see what you learn and teach us from your new color analysis, Jennifer. I had my colors done 24 years ago, and I was a “Vibrant Indian Summer”. It was a fun experience and I agreed with the results. I avoid pastels as they make me look “weak” and I especially don’t like lavender on me. It would be fun to have another color analysis, but I think that I could predict the results and save myself some money. As you always say, Jennifer, “Wear what makes you feel confident!”

  20. I have Color Me Beautiful books, and really got interested in color analysis in the 80’s. The last consultation determined I was a muted Summer. I have neutral skin tone that doesn’t go too cool or warm. Some of the Autumn colors work for me, as long as they don’t have yellow undertones. For an example, Khaki makes me look really sick. My hair is a white/gray now with pink undertones in my complexion. I think half my closet are white tops. Now that I’ve let my hair go natural, with the exception of an occasional toner, it has become even more important to get the colors right. When I colored my hair it always went a little brassy, and I struggled with the season, and makeup changes. I still purchase a few of Carol Thompson’s cosmetics . I understand she is doing virtual consultations now…along with Red Leopard from London. I’m excited to see how this goes for you Jennifer. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Jennifer I agree with you about purple, but I did find a really pretty blouse in plum. It’s still in the same color family but different enough that I love it. I think you never know until you try in on.

  21. I had my colors done by Color Me Beautiful in the 80’s with my Mom. I was Autumn. The colors still look good on me, even though I have gone gray. I have noticed now that I love denim blues, blush , & grays much more now that I no longer dye my hair. I love black, makes me feel slimmer & elegant.
    This was nice remembering how much fun my Mom & I had getting our colors done.

  22. I tend to stick to black or navy and olive green which brings out the color in my hazel eyes. I have been trying to branch out into some more colors. I have a hot pink cardigan that I always get compliments when I wear. I tend to wear less white near my face as I just don’t like it on me,it may look fine but I don’t feel confident in it. I love the look of a white top on others though.
    I am try to figure out what colors really do look best on me and i look forward to you sharing your exploration into your colors with us.

  23. I love color and think color analysis is so interesting. Color Me Beautiful did my colors in the 80’s and I am a winter which seems to still hold true although I don’t wear all the colors…I don’t have that many clothes. The only colors I don’t wear are the medium pinks or tans. They seem to be the same color I am and just wash me out. Blush is such a popular fashion color right now but most of the time it is much better on someone else. Great post Jennifer!

  24. When I was young, a girlfriend told me I should never wear yellow, so I avoided it for years. It’s not my best color, but the brighter, stronger shades are sometimes OK. It’s amazing how something like that can stick in your head for years. (It turned out we were choosing a piece of clothing and she wanted the yellow one…haha.)

    The only colors I really dislike are bright kelly green (looks terrible on me) and burgundy. Not sure why, but I’ve never liked burgundy. My favorite color is turquoise in all shades from bright to seaglass. So I’m in my element in the past few years…it’s everywhere.

  25. I had my colors done years ago and I stick pretty close to it even today. I hate any shade of brown, tan, beige, etc. I would never wear anything brown, even pants. Orange really washes me out. My face turns sort of green. I really don’t have any bad memories of colors. I usually stick to primary colors, a blue red, (no orangy red), pinks but not mauve, and lots of navy, black and white. I even stay away from ivory and off white because they also wash me out. I am definitely a winter! I also look washed out in muted colors.

    1. Oh, Linda…I think you could shop for me! Our colors are certainly the same! I dislike purple (I have absolutely no idea why) and have nothing in that color in my wardrobe.

  26. I had my color analysis done years ago and it was determined to be a “winter”. So yes, I did wear a lot of black, bright white and red. I find it more of a challenge to carry off any strong colors now whether we are talking about clothing, hair or makeup. But I also don’t care for how pastels look on me either. It might be a great idea to revisit my color choices again.
    Once again, it’s all about confidence for me. There is just a comfort zone I need to reach where I can leave the house and not be fussing or unsure of my appearance. I do still care about my personal style.
    Great subject Jennifer!

    1. If your hair has lightened your contrast will change and with it, what flattered you. Try some colors with less intensity but skip the pastels which I’m guessing would not look good on you.

      1. You are correct, my hair color has lightened considerably. What looked good in contrast to very dark brown hair just doesn’t cut it now! Thanks for the advice Jennifer
        It will be fun to hear your results.

  27. Joyce Reardon says:

    Love this suggestion! I have to get my colors done. I gravitate towards blues and greens. They make me happy!

    1. I’ll let you know how mine goes. It’s wonderful to know what you love.

  28. I am very interested in following your colour journey to see what changes you may make. I was trained in “Colours” (Bauhaus theory) and “Your Style” back in the early 80’s and worked at the Head Office in Canada where we trained the consultants for 120 franchises, so I saw many hundreds of consultations done and the difference it made.
    I have to say that I have never been bored with my colours even though I don’t wear all of them. Red is the colour I have the hardest time with now, as I feel I have to wear a red lipstick if I wear a red top and I don’t like myself in red lipstick as I’ve aged. I’m a Winter and my personality type is Dramatic Classic.
    Oh and I agree, proper lighting and background in so important and I too wonder if it can be done virtually.

    1. How fun!! I don’t remember that company. Are they still in business?

      1. Unfortunately when the 90’s hit, the interest in it seemed to die off. Over the years a few of us had thought of reviving it, but by then we were all into different careers.

  29. Susan Kelley says:

    I do not like purple,mauve,etc in that colorway. Love pretty greens. Right now, at this age, I seem to gravatitate to prints with lots of mixes. I can wear colors i normally would not because of a good print mix.

  30. sheryl beil says:

    not too many i avoid altogether, but…..i know for some reason, i like tans, but arent happy in browns.
    i love maroon, but it sure doesnt flatter me….so i pass on it. But, pale pinks and hot pinks are friendly to me. and i love red, makes my confidence rise.
    i had a color chart done many years ago, would have been in the 80s…but didnt stick to it, i felt it too limiting. i choose to go with what i see, and we all are our own worse critics.

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