Business attire and the psychology of colour

In business, first appearances count for everything. The general belief is that we are judged within the first three seconds of meeting someone so it’s extremely important when it comes to meetings that you look smart and professional. Not only does your overall presentation affect people’s thoughts, colour also has a part to play in influencing their perceptions.

Which colours should I wear for business? 

Most women tend to stick to what they perceive as a safe, classic and conservative outfit. A black or dark grey coloured blazer and skirt or trousers with a white blouse to contrast. Although this does look smart and professional and is the custom attire for formal meetings, the colour does project messages to others subliminally. These dark colours create an authoritative image and reflect seriousness and power. Dark blue is a better suggestion as it is more business-like and credible without being too overbearing and commanding in situations. Mix it up with a light pastel coloured blouse to soften your appearance.

Red is a power colour

It stimulates action, energy and excitement. This is a great colour for discussions and negotiations where you want to come out first. For women, brighter reds command attention and can formulate an assertive and confident image. However darker reds can make you seem intimidating and aggressive so make sure you choose the right shade for the appropriate meeting. With red being such a dominant, bold colour, it may be best to stick to accessories; a red waist belt with a grey suit dress, a red handbag or shoes.

Blue is a soothing, welcoming colour

If you’re developing relations and partnerships with business associates blue is a great colour. A soothing colour commonly liked by everyone, blue enhances feelings of trust and security. Try wearing a pale blue blouse with a navy pencil skirt to create a calm atmosphere. Neutral colours such as tan, beige and peach will make you appear approachable and sociable. Combine these with blue to create a welcoming, kind environment for your partners.

For a sales style meeting

Purple and orange are great colours to wear.  They stimulate emotion and creativity whilst commanding attention from prospective clients. A plum coloured stylish suit dress will instantly warm people to you.

Informal situations

This is where you are required to dress down from your usual business attire. This could be a meal or after work drinks with clients or colleagues.  Casual dresses are a great way to wind down and relax and coupled with a blazer, you can still retain your professional image. Yellow is a great colour to display in this setting for its association with happiness, positivity and warmth.

In a creative industry

Here, you should feel comfortable, motivated and stimulated so avoid dressing too conservative or corporate. Adding a touch of colour, wearing a distinctive fabric or sporting an accessory can help give you that extra edge and flair. Wear a printed, patterned blouse or use brighter colours to make others curious and more involved in conversations. Add more accessories such as larger earrings or a colourful brooch to show off your artistic personality.

Colours to avoid when doing business

The colour white in business; its connections with innocence and simplicity may cause people to subconsciously doubt your abilities and experience even though you verbally express your expertise in the field. Another colour you should steer clear from is green. Many say that green is a colour of harmony and renewal but it is also the colour of jealousy, money and naivety. With jealousy and money not being the best combination, it’s best to stay away to avoid hindering your chances of positive results.

When working from home

It’s important to still dress the part for your business as it can impact your productivity for the day. Wear pink to stimulate energy for your body and mind or orange to inspire creativity and action. Unlike red, pink and orange are softer on the eye so won’t leave you feeling tired or frustrated. Mix them with grey to enhance your efficiency and intelligence.

Colours should be experimented with

Depending on the situation,try a charcoal suit for a formal occasion with a light blue blouse to soften your appearance. Lighter colours project a warm, friendly image whereas darker colours encourage control and practicality. Don’t rely on colours to create a mood in a meeting but use them to your advantage to impact upon decisions.

I’d love to hear about the colours that have worked for you.  Let me know in the comments below!


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