Reader Karen sent this request via e-mail:
I would love to see a blog post about dressing in the summer without a tan. I think you do a great job for yourself! It would be nice to see some ‘rules’ for looking great with pale skin when everyone else is wearing styles and colors that complement tanned skin so well. Top of the list in my experience is to avoid khaki bottoms or any color that blends with pale skin rather than contrasts. I’m sure you have more ideas!
Many of you have naturally dark skin tones or do the self-tanner thing, so much of this post may seem irrelevant to you. But my first suggestion that pertains to dressing pale skin during the summer? Applies to everyone. And I mean everyone:
- Don’t worry about it: Anyone who is policing your body for any reason at all should consider getting a new hobby. Your skin is your business, no matter how tan, not-tan, pale, dark, spotty, or covered in Twilight-reminiscent glittery bits it may be. The end.
- Study pale celeb choices: Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, and Dita Von Teese all rock fair skin. You may have a hard time tracking down photos of Cate and Tilda frolicking about in shorts and flip-flops, but any outfit shots will show you how they select colors, accessorize, and style their hair to look stylish and chic year-round.
- Embrace contrast: As a pale gal myself, I find that I can pull off blushes and nudes in late winter and early spring. But now – when there’s little chance of layering some more flattering tones in the mix – I avoid them. I’m more likely to go for vibrant shades that play off my natural undertones and offer sophisticated contrast to my light-colored skin. I’d never say to avoid light colors or nude-ish tones altogether, especially if you can work them into a mix of colors. But in a time when many people are showing off browned skin, colors like peach, stone, khaki, tan, and some ivories will likely look stranger against naturally light skin than they will during the cold months.
- Do nude-to-you shoes: Exception to the no-nudes guideline? Shoes. No matter what you’re wearing up top, a shoe that matches your unique skin tone is always a good bet. Neutral and classic, flattering and elongating; By all means, do nude shoes. (This advice goes for everyone, too! Pale or dark, tan or ivory, there are shoes out there that will blend with your shade and give you legs for miles.)
- Consider your makeup: I’m no makeup expert, but I do know that summer is generally considered a casual season and that casualness extends into the realm of cosmetics. I don’t generally do much makeup myself anyway, but I’m even more sparing with it during summer. Natural, light, glowy tones look fab on fair-skinned gals during the summer months. A flattering blush, light lip color, and a little mascara is probably all you’ll need.
- Play with pattern: Where big swaths of color can wash you out or alter how your skin tone is perceived, patterns are more forgiving. Obviously some patterns will work better than others with your hair, facial features, and figure, so choose carefully. But be aware that doing patterns against pale skin may appear less harsh than solids.