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Top ten colour tips for professionals in the workplace

Brands have long been aware of the power of colour, using it in their marketing campaigns and retail stores to influence our thoughts and behaviours. It's also a hugely valuable tool to help differentiate themselves and build clear and iconic identities. Just think of the following brands - Tiffanys, Starbucks, Mercedes and Cadbury - and I'm sure a colour immediately comes to mind for each one.


Yet colour isn't just for the world of branding.

Wearing and using colour consciously in your outfits can naturally elevate your self confidence and your influence, not to mention making you appear more attractive, powerful and youthful.

So next time you are wondering what to wear to the office, why not start with colour?

Even though it may be unconscious, social psychologists recognise that colour is the first thing that we notice on other people and it has an immediate and powerful impact. 


Here are my top ten tips to choosing the colours that will benefit you, and your career, the most


  1. If you want to create a dominant and authoritative look, wear an outfit with a strong contrast, such as your best darkest neutral mixed with your best lightest neutral (i.e. black and cream; navy and white). This will immediately tell others that you are professional and serious.

  2. If you want to be seen as more approachable, cooperative and a team player, choose colours that blend, rather than contrast, such as navy with light blue.

  3. Wear your best colours next to your face. Why? Because the colours that are worn close to the face reflect light upwards and can either drain you by casting dark shadows, or highlight and enhance your appearance. When the right colours are worn, people will see you first, not your clothing. 

  4. An all black outfit can create an insurmountable barrier so think carefully before choosing to wear this when meeting someone for the first time. While it can convey professionalism, pair it with anther colour to help you communicate and connect with others more easily.

  5. Wear warmer colours in moderation (reds, oranges, yellows) to feel more active and uplifted. In excess these colours can cause anxiety and overstimulation, so pair with one of your best neutrals or another colour.

  6. Cooler colours (blues, purples and greens) are calming and more passive. Wear these when you want to induce peace and tranquility. They will also attract less attention than warmer colours.

  7. Blue is the most universally liked colour so it a safe colour to wear. It is ideal to wear in serious, formal settings. A navy suit will always look elegant and indicates confidence and reliability.

  8. In business, orange is seen as the least professional colour and can convey superficiality and insincerity, and is better suited to creative and non-traditional work environments. That being said, it is also physically and mentally stimulating and gets people talking and thinking.

  9. Red is the colour most often associated with power. A strong colour, it projects authority and can be worn to show you are in control. It also motivates us to take action, as well as helps to elevate personal energy so wear it if you feel your energy levels are low.