One of the most annoying times of day for a busy professional is that moment you’re standing in front of your wardrobe, tapping your fingers against the doors, wondering what you should wear to the office. Not only do you have to choose between different styles of clothing and levels of formality, but you also need to choose a colour that looks good on you, and achieves the overall professional image you want to convey.
Colour has a huge impact on our mood, our perceptions, and also how others see us. Do you want your employees to see you as somebody with authority and strength? Do you want your clients to see you as somebody they can relate to? Do you want your coworkers to see you as somebody who is friendly and easy to talk to? In my opinion, the colour you choose for your professional outfit is one of the chief areas that people will focus on when they’re forming an impression of you.
As an etiquette consultant, one of the prime areas I focus on with my clients is how to align their professional image and their professional wardrobe. To give you some guidance, I’ve provided my recommendations below based on the three most common impressions people want to convey in the office.
You Want to Look Authoritative
If you’re in a managerial position and you want to convey strength and authority as the leader of your team, I recommend you base your outfit on darker colours, such as black, navy, or charcoal. Darker colours help to convey authority and strength, and they’re often worn by powerful characters in films or politicians who want to become future leaders. Think: Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”, or Michael Douglas in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”.
You Want to Look Creative
When you think of people who work in creative industries such as advertising, marketing, or even entrepreneurs, you probably imagine people who add a lot of colour to their outfit. Incorporating colour, such as red, green, blue, or even yellow, not only helps you to make a more dramatic first impression, but it also conveys the image that you’re somebody who isn’t afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and take risks. Think: Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven in “Entourage”, or the best selling author and successful entrepreneur, Seth Godin.
You Want to Look Approachable
Sometimes in the office you may want to convey the image to your coworkers or your clients that you’re approachable and easy to talk to. Perhaps you work in sales or customer service where it’s more important to relate to the client than to convey the image that you’ve got authority. If that’s the case, lighter colours such as cream, light grey, or even brown will help you to reflect this friendly attitude.
[Image left: by Fervent-adept-de-la-mode from Flickr.com under Creative Commons, changes and graphics added by Kara Ronin. Image right: by NYPJA 230707 A on Flickr.com under Creative Commons, changes and graphics added by Kara Ronin.]
[Image left: by thetaxhaven on Flickr.com under Creative Commons, changes and graphics added by Kara Ronin. Image right: by AbulicMonkey on Flickr.com under Creative Commons, changes and graphics added by Kara Ronin.]