Could the colours and styles you wear help you achieve more in the workplace? Image consultant Brian Coyle certainly thinks so.
Brian, who works for House of Colour, says a colour and style class meant his subsequent wardrobe changes led to more compliments, conversations, confidence and inclusivity in his work life.
He claims much greater visibility to senior management followed, which lead to two promotions in three years at BT. He says he was so bowled over by the impact of colour and style in his working life that he became a consultant himself.
This is perhaps nothing new. We have long-known that colour is influential. In fact, the energy relating to each of the seven spectrum colours of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet is believed to resonate with the energy of each of the seven main chakras or energy centres of the body, according to ancient culture in India, Egypt and China.
But, according to House of Colour, this strategic use of colour is a new approach for employers who are bucking the traditional, stuffy suit and tie trend and increasingly packing their staff off on colour and style awareness days.
Managing director Helen Venables says: “Employers are increasingly offering their employees style and colour away days to build loyalty and employee confidence but also to ensure their employees are also fitting in well with the company brand. Your brand exists through the people who deliver it. Employers are increasingly valuing that employee confidence, and enabling individual personalities to shine through as long as it is congruent with the company product, brand or service, are key.”
Research participants who wore red in one study reported feeling more physically attractive, while – in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology – those who wore white coats that they thought belonged to doctors did better on tests than those who wore casual clothes, or those who thought the coats belonged to artists.
And, according to House of Colour, primary red is the ONLY colour that suits absolutely everyone.
“In the past, we were always told to stay away from bright colours, patterns and prints at work for the risk of it looking too unprofessional and showy,” says Helen. “Now, we are blessed with a more accepting workplace where we are venturing away from a sensible black, blue, white and grey ‘uniform’ and opting for smart designs and splashes of colour paired with gorgeous neutrals.
“The right colours make us feel positive about ourselves, appear healthy and vibrant and means we are more likely to buy into your confidence and leadership qualities which gives you a competitive edge.
“The wrong colours can make us look drained and typecast and can alter our moods negatively which affects the way we behave and the impression we give to everyone around us. If you look like you take care of yourself and have thought about your appearance, you are more likely to win new business, do well in presentations and build successful work relationships.
“The truth is it is harder these days to get a job and progress in your career. We are needing to work harder and smarter, and part of that is by standing out in positive way and being noticed for all the right reasons. When we liaise, present, network and manage we need to look and feel good.”
Helen Venables’ top tips for making the right impression at work
Wear clothes that fit you. Very baggy shirts and oversized jackets may look slouchy and un-kempt. In the same way, tight fitting dresses, skirts and shirts could give your colleagues and clients the wrong impression.
Get to know your red. Red in the workplace is so powerful and can be worked with any seasonal palate. For example, if you are a Winter, opt for deep burgundy and blue based reds. If you are a Summer, try Cherry red variations. Autumns are best in fiery brick reds and Springs in bright and warm Geranium reds. Alternatively keep it subtle with just one item of red, like a bold red lip, or a scarf or tie for a man.
Pair bold shirts or blouses with neutral jackets or vice versa. Work clothes don’t have to be boring, but you don’t want to dazzle and distract with a rainbow of colours. One impact colour and two neutrals are a good rule of thumb. Add an extra colour with your blouse, belt, scarf, bag or shoes to make your outfit ‘pop’, it will make you more memorable to everyone you meet.
Quality speaks loudly, so pay attention to getting good quality shirts, blouses, jackets, accessories etc. for work, that extra investment will send the message that you are worth it!
Accessorise! A silk scarf will soften an otherwise harsh tailored suit, or layering necklaces could give an edge to your outfit dependent on your ideal style.