Universal Colors

Universal Colors are those colors that tend to be flattering to most people. Maybe it would be correct to say colors that will most likely notbe unflattering.

They may or not be one of your Power Colors, but they usually won't be one of your worst, either, especially when they are paired with the rest of your seasonal palette colors.

Universal colors are not overly bright or dark and not overly warm or cool. This is why you might find a lot of uniforms in many of these colors.

Below are colors that have been traditionally considered universal. Different people differ about specific colors but these are the colors I've found most often cited.

However, I am becoming more stringent with my views of what is considered truly universal. Read to the bottom about my new 'test' to see if something is truly universal. This test filters out many of them. Some of the colors may truly be flattering on some people. My definition of universal, however, means it should be truly flattering on everyone (maybe not a power color, but definitely deserving to be in ones official palette).

Still these are the colors below are most often listed as universal.


I used to included almost all of these eight colors in my previous versions of my swatches. However, I don't do that anymore.

While a universal color is considered a color that will look good on most, I think this definition should say something like "a shade that won't be too bright, too warm, too cool, too dark". A "safe" color choice when you can't wear your best colors.

The Turtleneck Test

At Pretty Your World, where our motto is "The difference between looking good and look great", I want to raise the bar and say for me to qualify a color as being truly universally flattering, it should pass the "Turtleneck Test".

Turtlenecks must be in a flattering, or at least not a horrible, color as it will have such a direct influence on your face. With regards to universal colors, I didn't include colors in my swatch palette unless it will be harmonizing with a season's coloring. It may or may not be a Power color, but it will not be draining, clashing or completely disconnected with the person's coloring.

blog stone universal

Stone, a medium-to-light grey, is often listed as a universal color.

I did, indeed, include it in all of my previous swatch versions. But I had to accept that shade does nothing for me nor any truly warm seasons. I took it out. Now I either include a warm grey or putty color in those muted warm seasons that flow into a cool season, a muted cool season that flows into a warm season, or I skip it entirely.

As you can see in the photo above, the cooler stone color is not dreadful. It's better than, say, a cobalt blue or similar color on this person. But warming up the grey is better. However, choosing from their best neutrals, in this case, a warm sand, is best for this Autumn woman.

Last word about universal colors: they are good choices when you can't wear one of your best colors.

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