What Our Wardrobe Colors Communicate for Us
The right color gives you power, no matter what that color is.
When you walk into a room, your appearance—particularly your wardrobe—speaks before you even say a word. Did you know you can intentionally shape that message by selecting different colors? Remember, your appearance impacts your brand identity and how you are perceived, and that perception has a powerful influence on your success. Color is packed with psychological power! That’s why I love helping my clients discover the perfect colors for their specific skin tone, eye color, and hair color. It’s about making you the focus instead of your clothes.
How to Choose a Color When You Get Dressed
Use the power of color to your advantage! Each of us has a unique palette of colors that best complement our individual coloring. The colors you choose from that palette will be different each day, depending on what:
- Physically flatters you. Have you heard that saying, “Wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you?” Clothing that flatters your personal coloring and features makes people focus on you, instead of letting the wrong colors distract from your presence and what you want to communicate. You’ll look brighter, younger, energetic, and alive!
- Mood you’re in. How do you feel today, and what are you up against? Do you need to be stimulated to give a big presentation, or calmed for an overseas flight? If you want to “disappear” to conserve energy and nurture yourself, wear lower contrast colors and lighter or pastel colors. If you want to add energy and feel exciting, wear your favorite bright color in one simple accessory or as your entire wardrobe. These bright, “chatty” colors will bring attention your way! And if you’re going for a serious mood, opt for a monochromatic look. The more colors in your outfit, the more you’re communicating fun and vibrancy.
- Presence you need to convey. Who will you be communicating with today? What goals do you need to accomplish? If you are speaking at a meeting or conference, wear a bold color so you can stand out and grab the room’s attention. If you want the focus on others, such as when you are trying to achieve consensus, wear duller or darker colors. Depending on your day’s roster, you can also use color to give or save your energy: introverts may prefer dull or light colors to blend in and save energy for their interactions, whereas extroverts may prefer those “chatty” colors to spend energy building quick connections and rapport.
Every day, ask yourself these questions to dress from “the color up”—that is, begin developing your wardrobe around your color of the day.
How to Communicate With Color
You can use color as a strategic advantage in your communications:
- High contrast (dark and light colors) combinations are seen as more powerful and authoritative. When people lighten their hair color, they will often be perceived as friendlier.
- Low contrast (similar colors) are perceived as more approachable.
- Brighter colors can make you appear more enthusiastic and energetic.
- Pastel colors can make you appear more calm and nurturing.
The Psychology of Color
Much of color psychology comes from nature and culture. While the message may be different across cultures, every color communicates a message:
- Red says “energizing and stimulating”
- Orange says “fun and friendly”
- Yellow says “youthful and energetic”
- Green says “reassuring and tranquil”
- Blue says “calming and trusting/trustworthy”
- Violet says “creative and spiritual”
- White says “pure and clean”
- Black says “powerful and mysterious”
- Brown says “approachable and grounded”
When communicating with color, it’s important to understand your personality and mood, and to use them to select colors according to your daily and long-term goals. And if you’re not sure which colors will best highlight your features, I can help you with a personalized Color Analysis. Choosing the right colors from your unique color palette will help you shine even brighter on any given day!