It’s no secret that colors evoke emotional responses.
If you walk into a home or office that is painted all white with gray trim, you may get a cool, somewhat austere feeling. By contrast, if you walk into a room that is painted in a cinnamon color with a cream trim, you may get a warm, cozy feeling. You may not know why you feel the way you do in these spaces, you just do, and that sets an immediate impression about whether you like the place or the people in it.
The same is true with the clothing colors you wear. Research shows that colors can greatly affect our moods and the way other people respond to us. Of course colors aren’t the only thing that affects how people see us—you can still be liked at work even if you’re wearing a bright yellow suit. Still, when given the choice, pick a color that will work for you and not against you.
Colors come in a wide spectrum of shades, cooler to warmer, so knowing which shades of each color flatter your skin, hair and eye coloring is key. That said, here are a list of color categories and what they generally convey:
This color denotes freshness, safety and harmony. It’s also associated with money and the “go” signal for a traffic light—both great characteristics in the workplace. The color green is restful on the eyes and produces the least amount of eyestrain, making this a good choice for people who sit in front of a screen for many hours. Wear green liberally!
This is the color of truth and wisdom. It also has a calming effect and is linked to intellect. It’s considered the most stable color. So if you have a volatile or drama-filled workplace, blue is a great color to wear to counteract the tension.
This power color can convey feelings of mystery and seriousness. It is also considered elegant and has a thinning effect (though not everyone should wear black for their coloring!). If black isn’t a flattering color for you, and you work in a conservative environment, wear it on the bottom – pants and skirts.
The color of stability, brown is also seen as masculine. If you’re a woman in a predominantly male workplace, wearing a brown suit can give you credibility. Also, since many of us do not look good in black, brown can be a replacement for black as a staple color for dresses, pants and suits, particularly dark brown.
This is the happiest of all the colors and usually stimulates joy. However, yellow is one of the most eye-catching colors (hence the color of school buses and warning signs) and can be over-energizing, particularly for an office setting. Consider wearing it as part of an accessory or as part of a print versus a solid top or dress.
Grey implies that you are passive, uninvolved and have a lack of energy. If you like wearing grey (plus it goes with everything!), pair it with a brighter color such as blue or purple to help offset the negative effect.
This is the color of aggression and passion—great for a first date, not so great for the office. It also increases metabolism and raises blood pressure, which is why it’s used for stop signs and fire engines. Red can be seen as a bit hostile in the work environment, so keep wear it as part of a print or in an accessory versus a suit or dress.
This is a color of stimulation and enthusiasm. It’s not as aggressive as red, but can catch attention, so it’s good to wear in moderation.
Purple reminds people of royalty and luxury. It’s also the color of magic and has a soft, calming influence. A purple scarf, tie or purse can be a nice, subtle addition to any outfit. Like Blue, it can provide a softer mood in an otherwise chaotic or drama-filled work environment.
This color is associated with cleanliness and perfection. It is always a safe choice, but too much white denotes sterility and aloofness —not good for workplace relations. Also, most Caucasian women do not look good in white near their face as it washes them out, giving them an unhealthy, drab appearance. Instead, go with a warmer cream or oatmeal color. You’ll still give the appearance of “on top of things” while looking better and feeling more approachable.
Want to Learn About Your Best Colors?
Through our virtual or in-person Color Analysis service, we analyze your skin, hair and eye coloring then provide you with a customized palette of 40 of your best colors to take shopping with you, ensuring you get the right colors every time. You’ll look great and you’ll have more to wear because your clothes mix and match! Contact us today!