I see your true colours shining through…

I see your true colours
Shining through
I see your true colours
And that’s why I’ll employ you

After years with a traditional but boring black front door, I made a sudden (possibly rash) decision to mix it up and have it painted orange. Bright orange. Penguin book cover orange. Although I am very happy with it I was troubled by a comment I received “Does anyone buy houses with orange doors?” I couldn’t see why not and it prompted me to consider the psychology of colours and how this may inform interview attire.

Ok, so you may decide to play it safe with a nice classic suit but want to show some of your personality with brighter tie, blouse or accessories. A colleague was told that as well as performing well at interview, the red blouse she wore made her really stand out from the crowd of safe black and white. So what colour should you choose?

Bright Red is arguably one of the most dangerous colours to wear. Red can indicate energy, excitement and a dynamic, assertive personality but its negatives are aggression, temperamental and antagonistic.

Vibrant Orange is a hard colour to pull off but it shows a happy, energizing, communicative, persuasive, optimistic person. You may also be seen as loud, raucous or frivolous.

Bright Yellow naturally makes us think of sunshine and the positive feelings of a sunny day; energetic, joyful, stimulating and innovative. The traditional negatives are cowardice, betrayal, and hazard.

Green is generally a positive colour and for obvious reasons linked to nature, with connotations of health, harmony, vigour and new beginnings; a fresh outlook. Green can indicate a calm, trustworthy, traditional personality.

The many shades of Blue range from light; calm, cool, faithful, dependable, to bright; energy, high spirits, electric, to the conservative dark blue. It is no coincidence that deep blue and navy are used for uniforms as it indicates strength, reliability and confidence.

For Purple see the poem “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, which begins

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple 
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. 
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves 
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

Grey is quiet, neutral, logical, responsible, conservative, professional but also dull, conformist and detached.

Black is empowering, classic, sober and elegant but also used to indicate depression or mourning. It will not make you look three dress sizes smaller (believe me!)

However, don’t make the mistake of being too distracting; the idea is to stand out, not to make your interviewers shield their eyes. Think traditional with a twist but don’t be tempted by eye watering geometric patterns or illustrations into the mix (no comedy ties!).

One last word of warning; colours can have different meanings to different cultures so if you are applying for an international role do some research to avoid offence or confusion. An interviewer in China will view your red tie as celebration and good luck, whereas in South Africa they will think that you are in mourning.

And who best to turn to on a question of style?

“The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”
– Coco Chanel


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