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Why colour and style matters in the workplace

Helen Venables, MD of House of Colour

Could the colours and styles you wear help you achieve more in the workplace? We speak to House of Colour to find out why dressing to impress can help you in the workplace.

Clothing on a rack, very colourful

Brian Coyle used the House of Colour for a colour and style class with House of Colour meant his subsequent wardrobe changes led to more compliments, conversations, confidence and inclusivity in his work life. Much greater visibility to senior management followed, which lead to two promotions in three years. He was so bowled over by the impact of colour and style in his working life that he became a colour and style consultant himself.

House of Colour is now over 30 years old but has recently fine-tuned its focus to include the burgeoning corporate market.

House of Colour 2

Helen Venables, MD of House of Colour says: “At a time when the workplace is increasingly competitive, many of our clients are business men and women who are fed up of looking stuffy, ordinary and anonymous. They need to make their mark in the workplace and they want to be confident about what suits them, and know how to put a capsule corporate wardrobe together in their wow colours and best style to showcase their very own, authentic personal brand”.

We know that colour is influential. Research participants who wore red in one study reported feeling more physically attractive, which is interesting because primary red is the only colour that suits absolutely everyone according to House of Colour. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, subjects who donned 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.

However, Venables is quick to point out that workplace attire has changed: “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. 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.

Venables said: “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”.

How to look a million dollars - House of Colour

Helen Venables’ top tips for making the right impression at work

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.