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Clashing Clothes, Matching Makeup

By Amalah

Photo by PrincessAshley
Hi Amy,
I’m in a friend’s wedding this summer, and will be wearing a bright, canary yellow dress. I don’t own a stitch of yellow clothing, because it’s pretty unflattering to my pale, pinkish Irish complexion and dark blond hair. Any tips on makeup that can help me pull this off? I’ve tried on the dress and the color really does nothing for me — I’m at a total loss. My regular makeup routine is pretty minimal but I am willing to try anything for the wedding!
Many thanks!

First, I totally feel your pain. Yellow is not my color either. Depending on the shade, I look either cold cadaver white or downright seasickly green.
Second, though, it doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a flattering dress color or not: Match your makeup to your skintone, NOT your outfit. You can’t change your complexion, and if you try too hard to camouflage the clashing, you’re just going to make things worse. So much worse. Junior High Girl At Her First Dance Who Thinks Blue Dress = Blue Eyeshadow Worse.
With your lovely complexion (thanks for the picture, by the way, that is always SUCH A HELP, cough cough other question-askers cough), I’d continue to keep things minimal. Add a few extra touches to keep your face from fading into nothingness above that bright-bright dress, but not so much slop on your face that it looks like you’re trying to compete with it. (You will lose, for sure.)
Go with a tinted moisturizer mixed with a luminizer to create a very subtle, all-over glow. That should help your complexion fight the overpowering dress without your makeup overpowering your complexion. If you don’t own a luminizer, head to Sephora and sample the offerings by Benefit (High Beam, Moon Beam, Dandelion) and Stila (All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer, Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer SPF).
After that, play up your cheeks for sure, with something that really works with your skin. I’m guessing bronzers in general are too much for you, so try to find a really nice (pink? peachy-pink?) blush with some golden undertones. NARS Blush in Orgasm is always a good first shade to try if you aren’t sure what works for you.
Eyes? Totally neutral, I’d say. Not *naked*, but I’m trying to picture you with greens or purples or even grays and think it would just look heavy and overpower the delicate color of your eyes. If we were doing your makeup in MY bathroom using my hodgepodge of everything, I’d totally go with Hourglass Shade in Petal — it’s a pinkish shimmery color, but on very pale skin it’s a FANTASTIC neutral and great alternative to browns or ivories. I would bet good money, though, that you could find something similar at Ulta, in their own store brand line of shadows.
This sounds like a lot of pink, but these are all shades of pink meant to enhance, not slap on a ton of fake pigment. Wear a good dark mascara but skip the liner — if you really want your eyes to pop and feel like being a little extra girly for the wedding, glue on a couple fake eyelashes. Go with your favorite lipstick or tinted gloss — maybe something more on the peach/coral end of things, rather than more pink — and you’re done. (Sorry I don’t have a recommendation offhand for that — there are simply TOO MANY COLORS out there that even I can’t buy a new lipgloss for myself without trying on at least two dozen and completely losing my grip on what looks good and what looks horrible and in the end I give up and buy another tub of Rosebud balm or NARS Eros gloss in a panic and then get home and complain about how I STILL don’t have any decent actual lipsticks.)
The good news is that bridesmaids always get a pass — even if your makeup looks absolutely killer but you still *feel* washed out and clashy, everybody’s going to know that you had nothing to do with your dress. Wear something really flattering to the rehearsal dinner, and (if the bride is okay with it) bring a wrap or shawl to the reception, either in good old black — or a color that compliments both the dress AND you (royal blue, deep purple, etc.).


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Skip the liner? Is that general makeup advice for everyone or just in this situation? My default every day look is tinted moisturizer and mascara, but my dress-up eyes always have liner. Bad idea?


Pearls may soften the effect of the yellow on your complexion. They create a kind of reflective buffer around your face. A chunkier choker-style necklace (either larger pearls or a multi-strand necklace) could work wonders.
Yellow isn’t my friend either, so much sympathy here. Good luck and enjoy the wedding.


I agree with all of the advice except the no liner part. Liner is essential.


Thanks for answering my question! I will have to check out the luminizer and give it a test run before the wedding. Always good to have another reminder to keep things simple! Thankfully the fit of the dress is very flattering, so I don’t really have too much to worry about.