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How to Wear Yellow – Add a Touch of Sunshine to Your Look

How to Wear Yellow

Even though yellow is a primary color this is another one that some people think they can’t wear. But as I explained in my post about the color orange all you have to do is wear the right version for your color type. 

The meanings behind this warm cheerful hue are pretty interesting. On one hand, yellow stands for –

  • Happiness/Joy
  • Positivity
  • Freshness
  • Clarity
  • Energy
  • Optimism
  • Enlightenment,
  • Remembrance
  • Intellect
  • Honor
  • Loyalty

On the other hand, it can represent cowardice and deceit. Ever hear someone referred to as “yellow-bellied”? It’s pretty much the equivalent of “scaredy cat”. However, I prefer to stick with positive attributes.

Yellow is just after yellow-orange in the rainbow and it is considered a primary color. However, as I cover in my article on color theory there are no true absolutes when it comes to color.

Yellow in the Rainbow

Softer yellows contain white or gray, deeper yellows can contain hints of red or even blue, but not enough to make them a true yellow-orange or yellow-green. As I’ve said before and will continue to say – it’s a gradient scale.

We all have yellow in our hair, skin, and eyes. You can be a Summer or Winter with yellow or golden highlights in your hair and/or eyes for example. Every color in the rainbow is present in the colors in your body.

So what exact shade of yellow can you wear? It depends on your season and here they are…

Winter Yellows

Winter Yellow

The yellows reflected in the winter landscape are bright in tone. The deepest yellow is pretty much pure primary yellow like that of the rind of a ripe lemon, gradually fading into the lighter clear golden yellows of the winter sun.

  • Lemon and Light Lemon
  • Bright Yellow
  • Clear Yellow-Gold

Winter yellows (like the yellows in each season) vary in their undertone – they start out just over the border from yellow-orange gradually transitioning towards yellow-green.

You can find these tones in your skin even if it is very subtle, they are there. It is more obvious in olive skin especially if it is a light olive. Brown haired (especially the lighter shades) and blonde haired Winters can and often do have yellow highlights in their hair.

Spring Yellows

Spring Yellow

The yellows of spring have the highest chroma as one would expect from the brightest time of year. They are in the medium to light range value-wise and are the main undertone found in the skin, eyes, and hair of people that fall into this seasonal palette.

  • Clear Bright Yellow
  • Clear Gold
  • Light Clear Gold

A classic example of the spring primary yellow is in the petals of daffodils. Springs often have a lot of yellow in their natural coloring. It’s not uncommon to find truly yellow-blonde or very golden brown or golden-red hair, golden brown or golden hazel eyes and blue eyes with yellow flecks. The skin has a lovely golden cast to it as well.

Summer Yellows

Summer Yellows

The light fades ever so slightly as we transition into the summer months. The days are longer giving us more hours of daylight but they are not as bright as in springtime thus giving us softer yellows.

  • Sunflower Yellow
  • Banana Yellow
  • Corn Yellow

The summer primary yellow while still very bright is just not quite as bright as the Spring yellow. Remember it is a gradient scale and the colors are all relative so on a Summer these colors look vibrant and well, perfect.

Autumn Yellows

Autumn Yellows

The yellows of autumn are golden and rich. They have just a smidge of red in them – not enough to make them a yellow-orange though. You could say they are just over the line from yellow-orange.

  • Yellow Gold
  • Medium to light Yellow Gold
  • Bright Gold

This shade of yellow is present in the bright leaves of aspen trees, in the petals of chrysanthemums, gourds, and squashes, and in the gorgeous autumn sunsets and sunrises.

Yellow in Fashion

Yellow in Fashion

There are many ways to use this warm bold color in fashion and even in cosmetics. It works for both men and women as you can see above. Wear a lot or just a little – it all depends on your personal preference.

  • Sweaters, Polos, T-Shirts
  • Coats, Jackets, Blazers
  • Rain Gear
  • Shoes
  • Belts, Scarves, Ties, and other Accessories
  • Eyeshadow or Nail Polish

Use it in solid pieces or prints. Mix and match lighter and darker shades or different textures of material or mimic glints of sunlight by wearing gold metallics. The skies the limit!

Yellow combines beautifully with its complementary color of violet also known as purple. You can wear it with any of your neutrals of course and it also looks lovely with the other primary colors.

Here are some recommendations for each seasonal type –

Winter – Yellow Color Combos 

Royal Purple + Light Lemon

Royal Purple + Light Lemon

Navy + Lemon

Navy + Lemon

Spring – Yellow Color Combos

Putty + Daffodil

Light Warm Gray + Daffodil

Lilac + Light Clear Gold

Violet + Light Clear Gold

Summer – Yellow Color Combos

Violet + Banana

Violet + Banana

Misty Blue + Sunflower Yellow

Misty Blue + Sunflower Yellow

Autumn – Yellow Color Combos 

Concord Purple + Light Yellow Gold

Concord Grape + Light Golden Yellow

Pewter + Yellow Gold

Pewter + Yellow Gold

These are just suggestions though so feel free to come up with your own combinations. 🙂

If you don’t already know your seasonal color type you can take our Free Quiz or schedule an Online Professional Color Analysis.

Image Sources:

Striped yellow pants –

Converse Allstars –

Yellow Ties –

Yellow Eyeshadow –

Yellow Men’s Suit –

Wool Coat –

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