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Q. You write about suits and ties and colors/rules for them, and then you mention polos only for weekends. My work (with a construction company) is almost exclusively in polos in my more "senior" position with my son, who just started as an assistant. Can you give some thoughts on what we need to know and perhaps what colors to go with? If it is related, I am tall, dark and ... old (salt and pepper hair), my son has his mother's fair skin and hair.

A. One of the great things about being able to dress in a polo shirt rather than a suit and tie is that you are not restricted to the few appropriate business suit colors: gray, blue and tan. In fact, your color palette is unlimited. Every color from white, through pastels and brights, to darks and black are perfectly acceptable. The only limitations are based on your own preferences and what looks good on you.

But, before you start out for a clothing store, let's think for a few minutes exclusively about you. Do you know what looks great on you -- not on the model in a magazine ad, but on you?

The style, the fabric, even the fit of polo shirts are pretty much universals. What makes your shirts individually you is the effect your coloring has on them. Some colors, such as most shades of blue, look good on everyone. Of course, a man cannot build his entire wardrobe on blue, but he can emphasize it. Other colors work or do not work depending on whether they are flattering; you might as well choose polos in colors that make you look good.

Here are some basic rules about skin coloring, designed to narrow your choices to those that bring out the best in you.

If you still have mostly dark hair, to go with your dark eyes and Mediterranean or olive coloring, it's best to stay away from grays. Shades of gray are not flattering to you. Neither are most browns. Grays and browns are likely to have a "draining" effect, actually detracting from your own good looks. Among the endless color possibilities, some will flatter your skin more than others. A creamy shade of ivory (not the yellowish cast of beige), a crisp light blue, a soft, clear pink, a bright green, an unexpected lavender, and many light colored stripes -- all of these would brighten up the somber effect of your coloring. Note: Contrast your dark coloring with clear, crisp colors or with softening colors.

Those with light hair and complexion or light eyes look best in sandy colors that repeat their hair color and light blues or greens that accent their eyes. But these are just the beginning; your son is lucky because he has so many good choices. He will look his best by repeating light colors, yet the contrast offered by dark colors is also flattering.

If your "salt and pepper" hair mostly appears to be gray hair and/or when it is, it is important to forget about the colors that looked so marvelous on you when your hair was brown. That was then. This is now. And now, gray is a good color to repeat. Regard gray in the same way that the man with sandy, red or blond hair thinks of his light-colored hair -- as an asset. Suddenly you look better in grays. A wide range of grays for the mature, confident guy will show you at your best. Even so, if you find that gray with your gray is too steely a look, you might like something in red or pink to warm it up. Incidentally, pink is an excellent addition to a gray-haired man's wardrobe.

So, starting with these clues, how do you determine your own best colors? Certainly, there is more to it than simply matching or contrasting your hair and eyes. Learn to trust your mirror. On some days, after getting dressed in the morning, you may look in the mirror and say to yourself, "Wow! I look pretty good today." And we all know those other days when you see your reflection and ask yourself, "Could I possibly look this bad?" It's almost always a matter of color and specific shades of colors near your face that do great things for you. Remember which ones made you look your best, and wear them often.

Occasionally other people will tell you. When you receive two or more unsolicited compliments on something you are wearing, you know you're wearing a good color for you. On the other hand, if people ask, "Were you up late last night?" you probably are wearing the wrong color.

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High Profile on 10/23/2016

Print Headline: Consider complexion, hair when choosing shirt colors

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