Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

The right shade of gray for your skin tone

Gray is a color that never seems to go out of style. But not every shade of this timeless hue works for every skin type. We’re sharing some expert tips for knowing what part of the gray palette you should be choosing from.

We asked celebrity stylist and fashion designer Joey Tierney to share her tips on choosing the most flattering shade of gray for your skin type.


First things first, you need to understand your undertones. “The best way to figure out which shade of gray will look best against your skin tone is to figure out your undertone,” affirms Tierney. There are only two undertones and it’s easy to find out which one you have. She suggests checking the color of the veins on the underside of your wrist. If they look blue or purple, you’re cool toned. If they look green or have a yellow cast, you’re warm toned.

If you have fair skin

Fear not, fair-skinned women — you can wear gray without looking washed out. People with lighter skin tones tend to get lost in lighter colors so you’re going to want to choose from a medium shade of gray such as slate. “If you have fair skin, light gray can wash you out so it’s best to choose darker grays. If you’re fair skinned with warm undertones, gray will also look really good on you,” explains Tierney.

A medium shade of gray will stand out against paler skin, without being overwhelming. Stay away from lighter shades of gray like ash as these will make you look even paler, and dark gray like charcoal will be too dark against lighter skin.

Nicole Kidman wearing a gray dress
Photo credit:
Synoptic layered tunic (Anthropologie, $138)
Synoptic layered tunic (Anthropologie, $138)

If you have medium skin

In general, says Tierney, light gray looks best with skin that’s medium. Look for shades of gray that enhance your complexion rather than hinder your glow. The shade you choose will depend on your undertone. “Cool-toned women tend to look best in gray and silver,” she notes.

Sofia Vergara at Met Gala wearing gray
Photo credit:

If you have olive skin

Lucky you, you can wear any shade of gray you choose. Olive skin tones tend to work well with any shade, making shopping for clothes a lot easier. “Girls with olive skin are lucky, because they can practically pull off any color,” Tierney notes. Feel free to mix and match shades of gray, or throw in some brighter hues to break things up.

Kim Kardashian wearing a gray dress
Photo credit:
MM Couture by Miss Me racerback dress (Revolve Clothing, $68)
MM Couture by Miss Me racerback dress (Revolve Clothing, $68)

If you have dark skin

Like those with medium skin, for girls who are dark toned, light gray is also a good choice. “If a color is too close to your skin tone, it just won’t flatter as much,” explains Tierney. She also notes that cooler colors are harsher on darker skin and can bring out gray undertones, which you want to steer clear of.

Kerry Washington wearing a gray dress
Photo credit: Nikki Nelson/
BR Monogram silk back sweatshirt (Banana Republic, $80)
BR Monogram silk back sweatshirt (Banana Republic, $80)

More style tips

How to style a pencil skirt
15 Leather jackets in bold colors
The most flattering pattern for every body type

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.