Losing Recipes: Now, Who Said Black Folks Can’t Wear Bright Colors?

Colorism has had us in a chokehold for so long that it’s honestly disgusting. When you peel back the layers of certain sayings or traditions, it’s then that we realize rooted in colorism. If you’re not of the African American or Black American experience, you may not have heard the topic of not being allowed to wear bright colors while being dark-skinned. Those of us who are African American and dark-skinned may have been told growing up that we don’t look good in colors like yellow, lime green, or even red.

Guys, it was all a lie—and we are continuing to unpack and break down the toxic traditions that don’t serve us as a community.

This outdated notion has unfairly limited many people’s fashion choices, causing some to shy away from vibrant hues and instead opt for more muted tones. However, this myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Wearing bright colors while melanated enhances natural beauty and makes a bold statement of confidence and individuality. After all, beauty and fashion choices will always be up for debate because what may look good to you may look terrible to me, and vice versa. My mother has hated my outfit from top to bottom, but I still went out into the world wearing it proudly.

Color theory suggests that certain shades can complement different skin tones, and this holds true for dark-skinned individuals as well. Bright colors like bold yellows, rich reds, vibrant blues, and dazzling greens can create a stunning contrast against darker complexions, bringing out the skin’s natural warmth and depth. Celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o, Viola Davis and Dwyane Wade have often graced red carpets in eye-catching, colorful attire, proving that melanin-rich skin and bright colors are a match made in fashion heaven.

wearing color while melanated
Viola Davis. Image: Kevin Mazur/MG23 for Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue.
wearing color while melanated
Dwyane Wade. Image: Steve Granitz/FilmMagic for Getty Images.

Dispelling the myth that dark-skinned people cannot wear bright colors starts with understanding and embracing the full spectrum of fashion possibilities. It’s important to recognize that the fear of standing out or being perceived as “too much” is often rooted in societal pressures and biases. By embracing bright colors, dark-skinned individuals can reclaim their narrative and celebrate their beauty on their own terms. Fashion is a form of self-expression, and everyone deserves the freedom to experiment with different styles and colors.

Updated: May 24, 2024 — 9:01 am