You Asked: How Do You Match Your Nails And Makeup To Your Outfit?

You may be surprised by the answer.
Publish date:
November 25, 2013
lipsticks, advice, nail polishes, nails

Question for Ask Alle: How do you coordinate makeup (especially lip colour) with your outfit? -- @soph_abulous, via Twitter.

This is a question that I get asked A LOT. It pops up in the comments, across multiple social media platforms and in real life, regardless of season or the current “in” colour.

I love to get nuts with bright colours and contrasting patterns, but I also don’t want to look like a small child playing dress-up. I’m a grown-ass woman, and I want to look it.

That doesn’t mean you have to stick with sensible mauve lipsticks and beige nail polishes, though. You can totally be a chic adult with neon nails or bright-coloured eyeliner--there is no expiration date on trying new things and taking makeup risks. But knowing some basic colour rules is a good way to make sure that your beauty game and fashion game are complimenting one another, rather than fighting hard for attention.

The first thing I’m going to say is going to be controversial: Don’t worry too much about matching your manicure to your outfit. The colour you put on your nails should be viewed as incidental, sort of like your eye colour, when it comes to deciding what you’re wearing.

For example, there’s no earthly reason why you shouldn’t wear a red shirt with a pink manicure, or be stuck in plain tops if you have patterned nail art. Contrast is good! Fight against being overly matchy-matchy!

There are a couple of rules you can follow to make this easier, though. If your wardrobe has mostly cool colours in it--blues, greens, purples--stick with cool colours on your nails. They’ll fit in with your colour scheme more easily without looking too matchy and perfect.

Likewise, if you wear a lot of warm colours--reds, yellows, oranges, some pinks and purples--choose warm colours for your manicures. That is as coordinated as I think you should really get.

There are some colour combos you should stay away from, though. Like a green dress with red nails if it isn’t Christmas. You should also be mindful of your work environment and what’s considered appropriate there, which I’ve written about before. But you guys are smart, and I know you will keep that stuff in mind.

Now we talk about lip colours, and shockingly, the same thing applies: Don’t coordinate your lipstick to your outfit too much. There’s no reason to wear baby pink lipstick with a baby pink dress and pink coat, unless you’re going for a totally '60s vibe and also have shoes to match. Go hard or go home.

There is one exception here: red. If you want red lips with a red outfit, match it PERFECTLY or don’t bother. If your dress is a warm-toned red and you put on cool-toned lipstick, it clashes in a really bad way because it’s such a near-miss.

In my opinion, it’s better to really clash than to ALMOST match but not quite hit the mark. So unless you’ve got the perfect dress-lipstick match, stick to another lip colour altogether. Since we’re talking so much about reds, I’m a huge fan of deep pink lipsticks with red dresses. I think it’s really sexy and adds interest to the entire look, rather than making it monotone.

Again, because it’s easy to get lost in the colour wilderness, stick to the same general matching principal as with the manicure: warm-toned lip colours will compliment warm-toned outfits, and cool-toned lipcolours will compliment cool-toned outfits. For example:

And after all this, if you STILL feel weird about mixing colours in outfits with colours in makeup, you can always wear black or grey and let your lips or nails be the stars. Right now I’m wearing a black sweater with red lips and turquoise nails. Fashion!

I hope that this was helpful! If you have any beauty questions for me, drop me a line in the comments, via email or on Twitter.