The Psychology of Color: How What You Wear Can Affect Your Work Performance
Chances are that if you look into your closet, your wardrobe follows a color scheme. Whether it’s intentional or not, most people tend to gravitate toward certain colors when shopping. Some may like the simplicity of a wardrobe filled with basic black, while others prefer shades that complement their skin tone or eyes. But did you ever think how the colors you wear are perceived by others?
What you wear has an impact on how others view you—and this is especially true in the workplace. The colors you wear are subconsciously associated with psychological traits, as noted by Angela Wright, owner of Color Affects, a corporate consulting business, and the author of The Beginner’s Guide to Color Psychology. With the right colors, you can be seen as more approachable, confident or authoritative throughout your workday. Consider how you’d like your co-workers and clients to perceive you, then choose your wardrobe accordingly with these tips.
Authoritative and Serious
For decades, the color black has been iconic in office wear. Why is it that when you are meeting with a client or are heading into an interview, you reach for your black business suit? Black gives off a powerful and sophisticated vibe, especially in a professional setting. It’s slimming and sharp looking—and nothing states the seriousness of a matter more than a tailored black power suit. To avoid looking too blasé, diffuse the black with a pop of color by wearing a bright blouse or a fun pair of statement pumps.
Confident and Attention-Grabbing
Red is a fiery color and can represent passion, emotion and assertiveness. If you want to walk into a meeting and mean business while turning heads, wear the color red. You will be perceived by others as direct, self-assured and powerful, even if you may not feel that way. Step out of your comfort zone and invest in a red shift dress—it can be wonderful for those days when you need a confidence boost. Best of all, you can dress it up for a date night or a night out on the town with the right accessories.
Trustworthy and Honest
When you want to play it safe, wear the color white. White is associated with pureness and perfection and can work in your favor if you are summoned to your boss’s office. A classic white button-up will go a long way, but an oversized white blazer or a pair of white dress pants will get just as much wear.
Friendly and Approachable
Who doesn’t love the color pink? Pink gives off a playful, lighthearted vibe. Depending on your skin tone, pink can actually accentuate your features, making you look approachable and genuine. Bright magenta complements deep skin tones, while pastel pink looks best on paler skin. Find a shade that works for your coloring, and don’t be surprised if your co-workers look to you for a smile or a laugh.
Calming and Reassuring
If you have a stressful day ahead of you, don a shade of blue to calm both your nerves and those around you. Blue, the color of the sky and the sea, exudes soothing sense peacefulness. Blue is also a slimming color. To look trimmer through your lower half, opt for wearing a darker shade of blue on the bottom. In a business casual office, try a monochromatic look by wearing a blue blouse with a pair of dark jeans. In a more professional setting, pair a navy pencil skirt with a chambray button-up.
For most people, dressing for the workday is a mundane morning task. Try changing your outlook, keeping in mind how you are perceived by others, and get dressed for each day with intention.
If your current wardrobe feels too bland, take a shopping trip and look specifically for colors you wouldn’t normally wear that can boost your mood in positive ways. If you’re weary about spending money on clothes outside your comfort zone, try a secondhand shop or online thrift store to find colorful items on a budget.
When you get dressed each morning, don’t just look at the weather forecast—review your calendar and take note of any business meetings, stressful to-do’s or client luncheons scheduled for the day. Using these color psychology tips, reach for pieces that will compliment your workday and set you up for success.
Related: How Colors Can Affect Your Mood
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Consider how you’d like your co-workers and clients to perceive you, then choose your wardrobe accordingly with these tips.