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Using colour to your advantage at work

Ways to add colour in your work wardrobe if you have cool or warm colouring

Having worked in HR (Human Resources) for the past several years, I have noticed that most people avoid wearing colour at work like the plague and stick to the safe neutrals of black, navy, grey and white. While these colours are safe and professional, they often don’t suit people’s colouring, don’t showcase a persons dynamic side and aren’t that fun to wear. Before you rush out to buy a bright pink suit though, here are a few ways to make colour work for you for work and get noticed in a positive way!

1. The first thing I’m going to do is contradict what I just said and advise you to build your work wardrobe around your best neutrals. These best neutrals should work with your natural colouring e.g. For someone with cool, muted colouring your best neutrals are grey, navy and a rose beige or rose brown. A warm person would do well with navy, olive green or chocolate brown. Start by working out what your best neutrals are.

Professional but not terribly dynamic.

2. Wear a medium to high level of contrast in your clothes so that you look dynamic and so that you don’t fade into the background. This contrast level can be achieved by wearing a darker colour and a lighter colour together. This is traditionally why combinations such as black and white or navy and white have worked so well. Again an example; I look more dynamic when I wear a navy suit and an offwhite top (white makes me looked washed out and tired) rather than lower contrast combinations such as beige and grey. For warm toned people, try dark olives and cream or chocolate brown and cream.

3. You can also introduce contrast by combining a dark colour with a bright colour. You can do this safely by adding a dash of colour inside your jacket or cardigan or by wearing a bright complimentary scarf. Keep jewellery to a minimum and opt for quality pieces in silver or gold. Unless you work in a creative job, dangly earrings and the like will not create the professional presentation you are aiming for.

Red and black suit

4. If you are more confident, then try wearing a bright jacket with a contrasting dark tailored pants. You can express more of your personality this way and still remain professional.

5. Colour psychology is a huge topic and it is well-known that colour affects our moods. Keep a few simple ideas in mind when choosing colour. Go easy with red; while it is a great colour, it can be seen as a bit hostile in the work environment as it is associated with power and aggression – Not hugely desirable for team building activities unless you are the CEO. Grey worn from head to toe can also be a bit of a faux pas as it is seen as quite passive, not an ideal trait in most work environments. Blue is one of the best colours to wear to the office and is seen as friendly and trust worthy. Green is also perfect as it evokes freshness and harmony and hands up who doesn’t want more of this at work??


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