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Friday, 7 September 2012

How The Colours You Wear Affects Your Image

Clothes make the man... and the woman. The colours you drape yourself in decide the way you perceive yourself, and the way others treat you. According to Virginia-based image consultant Sandy Dumont, big aspirations at the workplace depend heavily on one’s image and the colour of everything from the tie (in case of a man) and accessories (in case of a woman) to the shoes, emit energies that are picked up subliminally by others. 

“The way you look and dress affects what people expect from you. It also declares how you feel about yourself. This decides how you’ll be treated by co-workers and your boss,” says the author of 15 books on the subject, who began her career as a runway model and went on to consult with Fortune 500 companies for 30 years. 

Dumont’s lessons began young — as a painfully-shy young teenager, she found empowerment in a red dress. She offers tips on how to use the psychological impact of colours to your advantage. 

A world of difference
“When it comes to colour, everything is relative,” Dumont points out. “Long standing cultural traditions override a colour’s natural impression. For example, dark hunter green is associated with old money in much of the West. But, for the rest of the world, green is associated with forests and is viewed as calming and healing.” 

Translate that into fashion sensibility and green becomes non-threatening — not the colour you’d want to wear for your power suit, if you were a man. However, green doesn’t diminish the power-factor for women as acutely. “Businesswomen have the advantage of being able to wear a range of colours, as they can spell power by adding statementmaking accessories to their ensembles,” explains Dumont. 

Power comes in many shades
Dumont advises men to choose suits in navy blue, black, gray, and, in hot climates, tan works too. “Brown is not a power colour,” she warns. 

Dumont recommends the Cary Grant-look, with a minor adjustment. “Grant wore suits in medium to light colours. This made him appear friendlier and more approachable. Of course, Grant didn’t want to project power, but elegance,” she says. 

People who like to be in the spotlight choose bold colours, while those who prefer to work behind the scenes are drawn to muted shades, says Dumont, advising the latter to beat that impulse and go for red, which “personifies life and snaps us out of our ennui,” Dumont says. Black, on the other hand, can send out all the wrong signals. “Rather than authority, it can suggest coercion or excessive force,” says Dumont. 

“Ideally, managers should wear Oxford blue or French blue shirts, so they appear friendly and trustworthy. White shirts are very formal, so they can seem stiff. Red ties suggest you’re a go-getter and yellow ties are associated with mental prowess,” she says. 

Power saris, salwar kameez

“Jayalalithaa appreciates the use of dramatic colours,” Dumont notes, offering an instance of how the Tamil Nadu chief minister power dresses. “She looks splendid in violet. It gives her skin a youthful glow.” She would ask her to avoid grey saris, though. What about BSP supremo Mayawati’s penchant for pink? “Mayawati appears to have cool skin. She looks gentler and more attractive in pink and pure white,” replies Dumont. 

But women in the corporate world would do well to avoid pink and opt for fuchsia and magenta to look “more dynamic and authoritative,” recommends Dumont. 

Colourful characters

  • Bright orange highlights imperfections on the face
  • Saris in delicate pink tones and bold borders look regal. A business suit of the same colour doesn’t.
  • Navy blue signals authority and trust. World leaders often wear business suits of that colour.
  • The darker the colour, the more authority you project. Pastels have low visibility and suggest timidity.
  • White is not a pastel shade. It has very high visibility and is a powerful colour.
  • Bold colours and prints spell power too, while dull and drab colours are associated with gloom and exhaustion.

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Edited By Cen Fox Post Team

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