Let’s face it – business, today, is more competitive than ever. Succeeding and leaving a good first impression takes more than just achieving the numbers. It has become all the more important for you to create a striking impression with customers, clients and investors before someone else does.
One of the most effective ways of getting attention for the right reasons is by dressing and grooming well. Presenting yourself in the right way through positive body language and well-thought out clothes can go a long way in helping you leave a lasting imprint on your team and your peers.
Sure! Your industry may not require “formal” business attire 24/7, but if you’re in business—and when it is time to suit up—the perfect ensemble from a pitch meeting to a business dinner starts with attention to every detail.
A bespoke suit is a favorite and a safe bet. However, what people often overlook is the color of the suit. That’s right, this simple and unassuming element of your suit can send a subliminal message about your personality.
In fact, “color preferences are deeply rooted emotional responses that seem to lack any rational basis, yet the powerful influence of color rules our choices in everything from the food we eat and the clothes we wear to the cars we buy” (Psychology Today).
It makes sense, then, to use this knowledge to your advantage and wear the right colors in order to convey confidence, professionalism and your ability to operate within your role.
Here are a few tips that can help you pick the right suit color.
Try and put together an outfit that does not overshadow your performance or what you have to say. You do not want to be remembered only for your attire, but you do want your colleagues to focus on your capabilities as well. Wearing solid color suits will help ensure that your clothes do not take away from that.
Solid navy, dark gray and black suits look extremely professional without being distracting. Subtle patterns such as thin pinstripes are acceptable. Do make sure, however, that the stripes are thin enough to look like a solid across a room.
Wearing bright-colored clothing will get you nowhere. In fact, it will only get your attention for all the wrong reasons. Stick to neutral colors such as black, brown, gray and navy. White is a great option as far as a button-down shirt is concerned.
Make use of pale hues to add a hint of color to a neutral outfit. This is an effective way of adding an interesting twist to your look without seeming too domineering. A pale blue tie, for instance, would look elegant when worn with a gray suit. However, do not add too many colored elements to your ensemble at once.
Formal or Casual
It is always best to wear colors that portray you as the perfect fit for your company culture. If you encourage employees to dress formally, you’ll be better off wearing solid, neutral colors.
If, on the other hand, your company’s dress code allows casual wear, you can get away with sporting most colors. Don’t go too bright, however, as that can have an overwhelming. For example, “You do want to be careful about using bright colors like orange and especially yellow. They reflect more light and excessively stimulate a person’s eyes which can lead to irritation” (Art Therapy).
Pick softer tones as they can convey a bit of personality without being overpowering. When in doubt about the company’s culture, always choose to dress conservatively in neutral and solid hues.
Colors Don’t Lie
We’re all aware of the fact that, consciously or unconsciously, different colors arouse specific responses. Here’s a look at a few colors to incorporate into your wardrobe which may help you present yourself as a thorough professional and reflect your personal brand.
Black is probably the most popular suit color. The fact that it is an extremely authoritative color that commands power (and even dramatically) may have something to do with it. Think “power suit”, “black tie” or “little black dress”. It is an excellent color for the office in a conservative work environment, for a high-profile meeting, or even for an evening event.
Too much black, however, can be a tad overwhelming in a laid-back office environment. Be careful in such a situation as it can make you appear cold and unapproachable. Using black as an accent color, in a tie or a scarf, can lend you that air of authority without being too intense.
The color blue, especially navy, makes for another great solid and neutral option for your suit. It communicates feelings of trust and a calm confidence. These are the qualities that leaders ought to possess. Dark blue hues subtly transmit feelings of confidence and authority. Trust the blue-colored suit to always work in your favor and help you make a great impression.
Gray is a fantastic color for a suit as it looks highly sophisticated and evokes neutrality. The best thing about a gray suit is that it allows you to look powerful, without making you come across as controlling and authoritative as a black power suit would.
Brown and Red
An earthy color, brown also evokes feelings of calm and is a rich, neutral color for office wear. Wearing this color can make you come across as less aggressive than you may actually be. Red, on the other hand, is a powerful color, often associated with feelings of energy and passion. Refrain from using red as the dominant color in your outfit. Use it as an accent (i.e. as a tie, a pocket square, or a scarf) to convey the right amount of passion without appearing too emotional.
Carrying off a white suit takes extreme care and consideration. However, if not as a suit, it can certainly be made a part of your attire in the form of dress shirts. White shirts go particularly well with a black or navy suit. A crisp and clean white shirt looks sophisticated and simple. This color reflects honesty and can add a touch of brightness to any ensemble without being overwhelming.
You may say that the above tips are generalized, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. While you may follow them, do keep in mind that a lot depends on the shade of the color you wear, your own complexion and hair color, and the contrasting accents you team up with a particular color.
All said and done, one cannot deny that being aware of a color’s psychological effect can go a long way in allowing you to choose an outfit that reflects your personal brand and leaves a lasting impression.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Brian Zeng is the Chief Marketing Officer for OwnOnly, which is a new-age online apparel store offering customized suits, shirts and blazers for the modern man. Digital marketing is Brian’s passion and he’s keen to explore the dynamics of ecommerce and men’s fashion. Connect with @brianzengdotme on Twitter.