Warning for the men who are reading this: This article contains references to color, style and stuff you buy to wear. And yes, you should keep reading.
We humans react strongly to color. Color theory is an important element of any design, and it played a part in the clothes you’re wearing right now. In this recent political season, you can bet that stylists spent many hours helping candidates send the right message through style and color. If you can’t afford your own personal stylist, here are some general tips on color in the interview.
We all have colors that we like, but we also have colors that like us – or not – more than others. If you’re not sure which colors are your best, make a note of how people react when you wear your favorite colors. There will be outfits that not only make you feel more energized and attractive, but will also attract compliments from others on a regular basis. On the other hand, if there’s an outfit that attracts more sympathy than praise (“You look tired today; is everything all right?”) you can probably bet that the color you’re wearing doesn’t flatter you.
Here are the basics on choosing flattering colors. Skin tones (of every ethnic type) come in two basic categories: warm and cool. Warm skin has gold undertones; cool skin has pink undertones. If you’re not sure which you are, hold a piece of bright white paper next to your skin. Next, decide whether your overall coloring is muted or high contrast. If you have very dark or very intensely colored eyes or hair, your coloring is high contrast. Vivid, bold and primary colors with high contrast (think red against black) will flatter you. If your hair and eyes are in the soft or medium range (light brown hair, green or blue eyes, for example) you will look better in softer or muted colors.
Whatever your complexion, most experts agree that you can’t go wrong wearing blue. According to one design website, “Blue represents calm, stability, hope, wisdom and generosity.” It’s no surprise that most politicians choose variations of blue for suits and shirts. It’s also more flattering than white against most skin tones – important if you are under hot white lights for a photograph or television appearance. Blue offers a wide range of tones – from almost black to soft pastels – so you’ll be sure to find a shade that flatters you.
Experts also agree that wearing bold colors are a sign that you are a confident person who doesn’t mind attention – which could be a good thing in some interviews. Wearing red, purple, or bright orange is a strong statement. Chances are, you won’t make that color choice unless you’re comfortable with it, anyway. If you’re interviewing with a more conservative company, stylists advise you to use those bold colors as accents; add a red scarf rather than choosing a red suit.
Some articles recommend brown as a universal color, but I don’t buy it. Brown makes most people look mousy unless it’s the perfect shade for them. Gray has gravitas without being as authoritative and dramatic as black. As with blue, there’s a shade of gray that works for everyone.
Here are some more articles on choosing color.