Eye color is more important than skin color for clothing color aesthetics

David I. Perrett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Fashion advice for clothing color is most often based on the wearer’s skin color, though hair and eye color are also considered. More saturated, warm (e.g., orange-red) colors have been found to be judged more aesthetic for White women with a relatively tanned (high melanin) skin complexion than for those with a relatively light complexion. Melanin levels in the skin, hair, and iris are correlated but the relative importance of these features for aesthetic judgments of clothing is unclear. I first replicated the preference for warm garment color for women with a darker complexion (Experiment 1 Task A). I then tested the relative importance of skin, eye, and hair color by transforming skin color between low- and high-melanin levels (Experiment 1 Task A) and by transplanting eyes between facial images (Experiment 2). Results revealed a dominant role of iris color with warmer, more saturated, and darker clothing colors being chosen for faces with darker eyes. Skin color had little influence. Even when participants were instructed to match clothing to skin color, they used eye color as a basis for clothing color choice. The results indicate that the emphasis on skin color for personal clothing color choice may be misplaced.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
VolumeOnline first
Early online date23 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Oct 2023


  • Eye color
  • Skin color
  • Hair color
  • Clothing color
  • Melanin


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