Style and Styling

How to Wear Pastels Your Way

Happy spring, dear reader!

For so many, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are their favorites. They feel new and we aren’t yet tired of the heat or cold to come! This spring (like many!) we are seeing pastels and sherbet colors everywhere. These less intense colors can be very flattering to many, and a few women have asked me how to wear them without looking like a little girl. Here are three tips to help…

Value Contrast

A common complaint is “I look washed out in pastels.” You may be right! There may be more than one reason. First, the value contrast may not reflect yours. When I introduce Value Contrast to my clients, there is often confusion, until I ask them to think about Disney princesses. It can be hard to wrap our eyes and our minds around the difference (contrast) between the darkest and lightest parts of our coloring: hair, skin, and eyes. When we talk princesses, though, it all comes clear. Snow White’s high value contrast coloring is on the left. Belle’s medium value contrast is in the middle. And Cinderella’s low value contrast is on the right.


Another reason you may feel washed out is that the pastels you choose may not be the correct undertone for you. Many pastels have a cool undertone, especially the blues, pinks, and lavenders. If you are warm complexioned, the soft yellows, peaches, and the soft warm greens will be more flattering than the cool shades. Conversely, if your coloring is cool, keep your eyes open for the blues, lavenders, pinks and minty greens. If the undertone is right and the color looks too pale, look for your color in more of a sherbet shade, rather than a very tinted (whitened) pastel.

Wear Multiple Shades

If pairing your pastel with a neutral feels boring and your personal coloring is low color contrast, add some punch to your look by color grading. You can layer different shades (with the same undertone!) of the pastel you have chosen to create interest and stay in harmony with your natural coloring. Here I have shown an example of each look with both a scarf or necklace. You can color grade with bracelets, earrings, and other accessories as well…

Give Pastels a Pass

Just because a trend is everywhere does not mean that it’s for you. I am a woman who leans towards all the darker and more vibrant colors in my palette. That’s part of my color personality. And that’s just fine! I did find a lavender tee this spring and that made me think twice about my pastel prejudice, and prompted me to give it a try. So far, I am loving the change of pace, and experimenting with it. I’m not sure I’d buy more pastel pieces to add to my wardrobe, but the tee is a relatively easy and pain-free way to try out something out of my color comfort zone!

How about you? Do you love the softer shades this spring, or are you wishing they would all just disappear? What’s your favorite way to wear pastels? Or would you never be caught dead in them? Start a conversation in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts…

Stay stylish!

Thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!


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