The Secret of Colour for a Powerful Professional Image

Do you ever wonder why at networking events some people immediately stand out from the crowd while you seem to move through unnoticed like a ghost? In my experience, it is often because those people have discovered the secret of colour and they’re using colour to create a professional and powerful image

Colour Affects Our Mood and Perception

Colour influences how we feel. When we see the red logo for Pizza Hut, it invokes a feeling of hunger and excitement. When we see a cool blue label for water, we immediately feel relaxed and calm.

Costume designers have long understood this subliminal link between colour and emotion. They carefully select the colour of each garment to influence the feeling and reaction of their audience.

The Secret to Influencing YOUR Audience

To create a powerful professional image and influence your audience, you need to choose the right combination of colours for your outfit. Let’s first look at the basics: high-contrast, medium-contrast, and low-contrast.

High-contrast outfits

A high contrast outfit is where you have the greatest difference between two colours. Think of a black suit with a bright white shirt. High contrast combinations are often worn by powerful characters in films as the colours help to communicate strength and authority.

Medium contrast outfits

A medium contrast outfit will make you appear more approachable. Think of a grey suit with a white shirt. This combination is often used for film characters that the director wants the audience to relate to or sympathise with.

Low contrast outfits

A low-contrast outfit is where you have the least difference between two colours. Think of a cream suit with a white shirt. It is known to be the least influential and can sometimes project a tired or weak image.

How to Create a Powerful Professional Image

When you want to get noticed in business, you need to choose a high-contrast colour combination for your professional outfit.

Powerful, Professional Image for Men

For men in traditional industries such as banking and law, I recommend a dark navy suit with a crisp white shirt, and a red and navy tie (see below for examples). This is a classic combination often worn by politicians and power brokers. If you are working in a more creative industry, such as advertising, you can replace the common tie with an Ascot tie, perhaps in a green or an orange.

Powerful, Professional Image for Women

For women, your choice of colour and style is much vaster. Personally, I like to base my outfits on solid darks and add a splash of colour with shoes, belts or jackets. I recommend to women who want to stand out: a dark navy dress with cream shoes, a solid black dress with a red belt, or black pants and top with an orange or green jacket (see below for examples).

Additional Tips for a Powerful, Professional Image

To complete your look, I often advise the following:

  • Use two, or three colours maximum. The more colours you add, the more it detracts from your image.
  • If wearing patterns, make sure they’re subtle. YOU want to stand out, not your shirt.
  • Clothing should always be ironed. A crisp white shirt impacts more than a crinkled one.
  • For women, open-toed shoes are not always professional. Consider what is acceptable in your industry.
  • For men, leg hair should not be visible when you sit down. Make sure your socks are long enough.

This season, high-contrast clothing seems to be everywhere in the stores. Be bold, be brave, and buy!

Of course, it’s also important to have powerful body language to go along with your power outfit. Let’s leave that to next time, so stay tuned.

Learn how to create an executive wardrobe in my online course.

Learn how to create an executive wardrobe in my Bestselling online video course, Business Etiquette 101: Social Skills for Success. Click the image below.

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About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox

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