Are there some colours that suit everyone?

posted in: Colour Analysis | 2
My daughter-in-law Bianca
My daughter-in-law Bianca

My dear Daughter in Law Bianca is struggling with a strange request. She has been invited to a wedding where the guests are required to wear Lilac dresses. This is apparently quite the thing in a number of cultures and I was interested to see how she gets on. Lilac is not a fashionable shade this season and she couldn’t find anything in the shops. She ended up buying an inexpensive 100 % polyester Chinese dress on the internet in just the right shade of lilac. It is a glamorous, weddingy design, with a built in bra, boning, back lacing (to accommodate different shapes), draped bodice and full length lined skirt. Bianca has Muted-Deep colouring so light lilac is not her best colour and she doesn’t feel entirely comfortable in it. In the meantime, encouraged by Manuela from Hong Kong, we are considering dying the one she wore for her own wedding.

Bianca and George at Islington Town Hall
Bianca and George at Islington Town Hall

This got me thinking about co-ordinated weddings which, to my mind, are a bit of an odd concept. But if you wanted to launch a fleet of airlines, or choose bridesmaids’ dresses to match your flowers, what would be a sensible choice?


This Camberwell church group has gone for a print in turquoise and green, teamed with natty apricot and brick head wraps.

So, are there some colours which would suit absolutely everyone, whatever their natural colouring? Well, apparently, there are.

These are known as universal colours – shades which while they may not be the best colour for everyone will be fine on your wedding guests, choir, cabin crew, or congregation – whatever their colour direction. Most of them work because they combine warm and cool colours in roughly equal measure, or because they have a balanced/middling quality to them. They are also medium in value (medium-light, medium, medium-dark) – they are not very dark, light, bright or muted.

  • turquoise (blue with some yellow in it)
  • teal (blue plus green)
  • violet (blue plus red – a balanced colour)
  • beige (the ultimate middling colour)

Some other colours have been suggested which seem to work too

  • watermelon red (light mid red)
  • maize (muted light yellow)
  • soft rose (a pink  that is neither yellowy nor bluey)
  • chocolate brown
  • aubergine
  • mid-gray
  • stone
  • oyster white
Universal shades - colours that suit everyone
Universal shades – colours that suit everyone

Does this make sense? Anyone out there look ghastly in aubergine?

2 Responses

  1. Stephanie

    This is timely for me. My younger brother is planning to get married next year and my mother informed me that he and his partner have decided on a colour for the guests to wear: turquoise. I am very surprised that this is their plan. His partner is a sophisticated architect (anglo-saxon, from Saskatchewan originally, so I can’t imagine a cultural association) and they are both very creative and independent. It seems strange that they would want everyone to dress in the same colour, but at least they chose a colour that is wearable by all! Perhaps this is also a trendy thing among young people?

  2. Brenda Marks

    This is interesting because I’ve done some (spotty?) research on the question of universally flattering colors. I think the underlying principle is that the turquoise blue color is the close to color of most people’s blood as it’s in the veins and the burgundy/aubergine color is complimentary to many people’s lip color. Maybe these colors are not universally flattering as much as they are not objectionable on most people.

    My flattering colors have been difficult to discern since my skin tone is relatively neutral. When I had a face powder blended for me (what a treat!), she put in peach, pink and olive tones. I was amazed.

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