Updated 28 May 2013

Black, red or blue: which are you?

Did you know that the colours you choose to wear are a reflection of your personality? If you're looking for that promotion, maybe it's time to take more time on your wardrobe.

Some will say that Donald Trump earned his fortune thanks to his magnificent hairdo. Others may say that he actually worked for it. But now that he’s a public figure, he’s had to suddenly take extra special care of his personal appearance, and especially his dress-code.

You should do the same, whether you’re a tycoon or not.

With Donald, it’s all in the suit – whether he’s seen sporting a striking red tie or a more subtle dark lavender one, Donald is always in charge. You may not think so, but the colour of your wardrobe makes a huge impression on those around you, and is in many ways a reflection of your personality.

When deciding on your wardrobe, how much thought do you put into colour? Do you have a favourite colour that you just stick to, and are always wearing? There’s nothing wrong with it, but it might not be an appropriate colour for a big job interview, or important board meeting.

What you wear and the colours of your clothing are a reflection of your character. With a bit of forward planning and thought, you can use this to alter your dress code to fit any situation. Here are some suggestions on choosing a style and colour for every occasion.

Your personal brand

Have you ever stopped and actually had a good long look at your wardrobe? What are the most predominant colours? Consider the following chart, and see how closely these colour-attributes match your wardrobe:

Surprised? If so, then maybe it’s time you pay closer attention to what you’re wearing. If you’re struggling to get that promotion, or are really clashing with a co-worker or even family member, it could be because you are colour-coding incorrectly.

Take some time to evaluate whether or not the major colours you wear everyday are really reflecting the image you want. If you’re a lively, boisterous character, then express yourself by wearing stronger colours. If you’re as dull as a rainy day, then maybe it’s time to spice things up with some new colourful threads.

Jobs, interviews

It’s a cold hard fact that a person’s first impression of you is going to be made on your appearance. This is especially true for that job interview. Although objectivity should ideally come first, unfortunately it mostly doesn’t.

A clever thing to do if you’re unsure of the dress-code of your potential workplace is to go and hang around outside the building for half and hour, and observe what people are wearing. This way you can prepare your wardrobe appropriately for the coming interview. Try not to look suspicious, don’t wear a raincoat and steer clear of bus stops, though.

It’s a fine balance between arriving at the interview looking like you’re on your lunch break from the circus, or on your way to a funeral. While you want to show your prospective employer that you’ve got spunk with a bit of colour, a luminous red tie will do little more than give him a headache.

Making that first impression

Dress smartly, and stick to clean, soft tones. Choose a striking but subtle colour for your tie, and stay clear of bright shirts. You want the boss’s attention on you, not on your clothes, but after you leave, you want him to say, ‘He dressed well. I liked that tie.’

If you’re really stuck, just go for a plain black or grey suite, closed black shoes, a dark shirt and an attractive pastel blue tie. This will help you make an elegant and stylish impression, and the blue will help break the formality with a tone of confidence, cleanliness and loyalty – a winning combination for any interview.

In the workplace

If you’re gunning for that promotion, a strategic look at your daily wardrobe is a must. You want to portray a sense of reliability, confidence and dependability. Wear darker colours and shades, like black, grey and dark blues or purples, and start building your reputation around the office. If you’re dressing too passively for your boss to even notice your existence, a wardrobe makeover is called for.

But for everyday office wear, just be yourself. Wear your favourite colours, and don’t be ashamed of that yellow scarf. Just don’t go overboard and pitch up every morning looking like you’ve just been to a techni-coloured raincoat convention – attention is one thing, but gossip about how bad your dress sense is, can be career-limiting.

There are however, a few rules. Unless you work alone in a dungeon, slip-slops are a definite no, as are hats, board-shorts and sweatbands. Be sensible when dressing for work, and you’ll soon see a change in the way in which your colleagues treat you.

Meeting the parents

Consider meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time exactly like a job interview. In precisely the same way, first impressions are most important, and that means your appearance has to be top-notch.

Talk to her about her parents’ tastes. Are they formal, conservative or open-minded? Once this is established, you can dress accordingly. Colours exuding confidence and security will go a long way in getting them to like you. Blacks, blues, greens and browns are all good for this. And if you’re going to dress like a well-mannered gentleman, then remember to act like one.

If they like you and you become a regular visitor, then you can start dressing a little less formally, but don’t pitch up in your college shorts, slippers and a ‘Back to the future’ T-shirt. Remember, if you want to show them you’re a good guy, you need to prove it and remain consistent.

A formal affair

So you’ve been invited to an opera for the first time, and you have no idea what to wear. A black and white suit is always suitable for any formal occasion, unless otherwise specified in the invitation. Try adding a dash of colour in the form of a pocket handkerchief or interesting tie, but stick to darker purples, blues and maroons to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.

Formal dinner parties also require a touch of class in the wardrobe. Again, a tuxedo will do, and if you’re feeling adventurous, add a bit of colour somewhere. At weddings, try sticking to greys, blacks and whites. Remember, you’re not the main attraction, and you don’t want to divert attention from the happy couple.

Colours speak

You may not realise it, but the fact that you have a favourite colour says a lot about the person you are. Take some time to reflect on this, and see whether maybe it’s time for a change.

Start paying more attention to colours the people in your life wear, or surround themselves by, and you might be surprised by the insight you can gain on their personalities. Colour isn’t just for girls - learn to use it to your advantage, and enjoy the results.

Whatever you do, take care that you don’t dress to depress.

(Photo of stylish businessman from Shutterstock)



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