Your Dress Colour is Branding You!

Published on 4th September 2007

The success of any personal encounter begins immediately someone lays eyes on you. A professional image helps start the experience in the right vein. People draw conclusions about you within 10 seconds of seeing you.

The way you dress speaks volumes about who you are as a person.  Clothes and colour talk. Regardless of who you really are, your clothes and body language always speak first. Learning to plan how you look is sure to impact your career or business.

The debate on gender superiority to analyze perceptions elicited by colours has never reached a conclusion as both men and women are unique and superior in many ways. The way colours appear on the rainbow demonstrates the superiority of one colour to the other. Red is placed on the outer curve, far from the center.

When Sir Isaac Newton invented the first colour wheel using a prism, he split white sunlight into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet beams, then joined the two ends to show the natural progression of colours. He associated colours with musical notes which progressed with wavelengths, from the highest note to the lowest. A century later, Goethe in his study of the psychological effect of colours noticed that blue gives a feeling of coolness while yellow has a warming effect. He divided all the colours into two groups – the plus side (from red through orange to yellow) and the minus side (from green through violet to blue). Colours of the plus side produced excitement and cheerfulness while those on the minus side evoked a sense of weakness and restlessness.

A test carried out on a group of boys and girls on their preference of pink or blue revealed that most boys preferred blue to pink while most girls preferred pink to blue. With reference to the colour spectrum and the psychological theory of colour effects, girls in pink outfits appear to be more bold and confident than boys in blue ones. It is for this reason that men, who would rarely be seen in pink, purple and orange shirts, are now adorning the ‘plus colours.’ 

Varied shades and tints convey different messages. It is however erroneous to hold that a particular colour stands for a single message. Black, for example, may indicate being well-groomed and executive but in another situation it indicates moaning. Colour carries weight in communicating fashion ideas and creativity. Although fashion thrives on new style, no style can be considered fashion unless it gains acceptance and is bought in substantial quantity by the public. For a style to excel, its colour must appeal to the target group and communicate the intended message.  

Colors affect our perception of a brand, person, food, charts or text. That is why hospitals are adopting colour therapies to cure certain illnesses such as mental disorders. A room painted ‘sea green’ is  an effective place to treat a mentally disorderly patient due to the colour’s soothing effect to the mind, because it appears to be cool and soft. A similar room painted red will make the patient more aggressive, drastically slowing down the healing process. Similar effects are elicited when we wear clothes of any colour, they carry a variety of meaning.

Red indicates an instant reaction to an otherwise sequential process. It gives a feeling of excitement, energy, passion, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, love and aggression. If you need to spur your colleagues into action, red will not only raise everyone's heartbeat and make you feel more energetic, you'll project a sense of urgency to those around you too. Its closest partner; Orange reveals the inner feeling of energy, balance, warmth, enthusiasm, vibrancy, flamboyance and seeking attention. Yellow implies joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, imagination and hope. On the other hand, it signifies dishonesty, cowardice and betrayal. Blue is a relatively peaceful colour that promotes peace, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, and loyalty. If everyone's panicking, wear blue, a cool colour that lowers both the breathing and the heart rates. Its immediate neighbour, green depicts environment friendliness, health, renewal, youth, vigor and fertility. Purple is well known for its royalty, nobility, mystery, wisdom, and enlightenment. Although sometime referred to as presence of all colours, white exudes purity, cleanliness, peace and innocence.

Dark colors - black, navy and darker shades of gray - psychologically connote power, authority, knowledge, responsibility, and success. Brown shows that you are dependable and stable - however you lack power and authority. White is a good choice for a blouse or shirt since it connotes clean, formal and sophisticated. Pastels denote softness and femininity.

Impressions can make or break. You can create a more positive impression of yourself in the workplace, by adding the appropriate colour. Investing in a good business wardrobe is an investment in your professional future. It is not only who you are that creates success, but what you wear too. Business skills and experience count, but so does personal appearance and that all-important first impression.


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