9 Universally Flattering Makeup & Clothing Combinations To Try Now

Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images.
Every good makeup artist knows there are certain color combinations that always work, no matter which client is sitting in the chair. Just like peanut butter and jelly or French fries and ketchup, there's no wrong time for the most tried-and-true cosmetic combinations. Some are to be expected (aquamarine and white), while others are more unusual (maroon with yellow).
Until there’s a matchmaking app for makeup and clothing colors (and relax, there probably will be one in about five seconds), we've turned to the pros for a little guidance on the subject. Why? Because creating a standout, fresh look sometimes means going against your instincts and with a contrasting color or super-dark, goth lip.
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Need proof? You've come to the right place. Ahead, you'll find nine surprising couplings and the pro tips to pull them off at home. We think you’re going to love all of these foolproof duos.
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Photo: Steve Granitz/Getty Images.
Maroon & Yellow
If this color pairing is new to you, hot-dog toppings may come to mind. But seeing is believing, and time and time again it proves to be both chic and universally flattering, most recently on Jennifer Lopez at the Golden Globes.

“A brighter red would’ve dulled out the color of the dress, and made it look drab,” says makeup artist Mary Phillips. Pulling from deeper brick reds made for “a really luxurious, unexpected combo” with the yellow gown, says Phillips. “It heated up the dress and [her] skin.” This is because Jennifer Lopez has warm, yellow undertones to her skin, so the deeper shade didn’t wash her out or make her look too gothic for the occasion. (But hey, that can be cute too.)

Want to find out if you have warm undertones? “You can always do the white-T-shirt test,” says Phillips. Hold a T-shirt or piece of paper next to your face and see how your skin compares. “If you see more blue and pink colors, this means you are cool-toned,” says Phillips. “If you see more green and gold colors, that means you are warm-toned.”

Warm tones will benefit from a shade like J.Lo is wearing here, while cooler tones can wear a classic, apple-red lip hue.
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Photo: JB Lacroix/Getty Images.
Fuchsia & Nautical Stripes
It would have been easy for Kerry Washington to go full French girl and pair this striped ensemble with bold red lips. But because the Scandal star’s top and skirt were so playful, “a kind of sailor look,” makeup artist Carola Gonzalez wanted a lip color that popped, but wasn’t as fussy or stuffy as red.

“Pinks are less serious, less sophisticated — that also makes them better for daytime events,” says Gonzalez. Then, she used a subtle blue shadow on Washington’s eyes, “so that they were accentuated but not too dramatic.” After all, you don’t want to compete with a graphic print and fuchsia lips. Gonzalez’s other tip for wearing this bold combo: Apply your bright lipstick directly from the bullet. “It’s better straight from the tube because you get more of a true color,” she says.
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Photo: Desiree Navarro/Getty Images.
Cool Blues & White-&-Gold
The dreamy white dress Kendall Jenner wore in the DVF spring/summer 2016 show was inspired by the Roman goddess Fortuna, but the disco-ready eyeshadow channeled designer Diane von Furstenberg herself back in the '70s.

Makeup artist Pat McGrath lined the model’s eyes with wet, aquamarine eyeshadow for a deeply pigmented color, then layered on a dramatic blue. The rest of the makeup was wisely understated and fresh — as was Jenner’s soft, semi-sheer dress.
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Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images.
Brown & White
But you don’t have to strictly pair cool, bright colors with white. Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco wore a bridal-bright white to the New York premiere of Joy, which makeup artist Jay Suarez paired with a dusty, matte-brown lipstick that gave it kind of a hippie, earthy feel. (Is it giving you Kylie Jenner Lip Kit vibes, too?) The look was sexy and soft — and so different from another brown-lip-and-white-dress pairing that Polanco and Suarez did just days later, using the vinyl-looking Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Black Metal Dahlia.
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Photo: Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images.
Nudes & Jewel Tones
At an acoustic benefit concert in Los Angeles, Zendaya’s creamy, beige lips and emerald-green outfit were pitch-perfect. Even better? She did her own makeup. “Zendaya often does her own makeup for red carpets if she's been working all day and needs to rush out — and she’s amazing at it,” says her makeup artist Allan Avendaño. He thought Zendaya’s choice to keep her makeup soft and simple with her boldly colored top and pants showed true beauty wisdom. “What I really love is that she takes a simple nude lip to another level by giving it an ombré effect — using a deeper nude liner all over the lips, and then applying a flesh-toned color in the center of her lips,” says Avendaño.
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Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images.
Burgundy & Black
One of the season’s most popular trends is this tough, sexy combo, which has been red carpet-tested by Lily Collins, Gabrielle Union, and just about every Kardashian. At the Britannia Awards, Collins’ makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua used a glossy near-match for the actress’ black-lapeled burgundy suit jacket. The look is striking, and seems especially goth thanks to dark lashes, heavy brows, and pale, un-blushed cheeks.
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Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images.
Burgundy & Gold
Unlike its cousin maroon and yellow, this color combo sounds luxe. And that’s why it was the perfect choice for Star Wars actress Lupita Nyong'o to wear first to last year’s Oscars, and then again for her second Vogue cover in October.

Makeup artist Nick Barose was the mastermind behind both looks. “A gold outfit is such a strong statement that if your makeup is too plain — say, you did nude lips — your face would get lost," he says. "[But] if you chose something too bright — say, a red — then it gets too flashy." The solution? "A darker, richer, more muted shade will draw attention to your face without being too loud.”
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Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
Bronze & Navy
Speaking of colors that just sound fancy...

At the Golden Globes, class act Julianne Moore wore this shimmery, nude eyeshadow with a sparkling, navy gown. “With bronze shadow, I can achieve a glamorous, smoky look that’s a bit fresher, instead of being too dark or heavy,” says her makeup artist Elaine Offers. “I also sharpened Julianne’s eye shape with a bronze liner in the waterline.”

With a smoky eye and dark dress, a nude lip could fade into oblivion — so to prevent that, Offers chose a lipliner “that is very close in color to the inside of the lower lip. If you match this natural color closely, and fill in the lip slightly with liner, any pale color applied on top shouldn’t wash out.”
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Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images.
Red & Red
The final lesson: When in doubt, go with a classic. After all, combining colors can get tricky, but there’s really no way to mess up a perfect match. Makeup artist Patrick Ta has been doing red-on-red with actress Olivia Munn for months now. Here, he kept Munn’s skin dewy and bronzed and her brows strong and defined to balance out Anastasia Beverly Hills' Electric Coral lip color.
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