Wearing red will not make you more powerful. Orange will not make you cheerful. And purple certainly won’t make your co-workers see you as royal. So what can you learn from the psychology of color?

The Psychology of Color

Why even talk about color in the workplace? Color is a means of instant communication, and wearing the right hues for your skin tone makes a difference. In the right hues you look healthy and bright, and wearing certain colors can make you feel great. And when you feel great, you generate more energy and appear more confident.

Marketers, advertisers, and designers are very aware of how to use color to elicit responses in people. There’s a reason the color red was chosen for Coca-Cola: It’s stimulating and exciting. Why is UPS brown? Because they want to convey safety and trustworthiness. Business professionals can use color to elicit response just as easily.

Red is an attention grabber and can communicate power. Wear red when you want to appear confident, vibrant, dynamic, or in charge. But it can also be distracting and exhausting to the eye. Use red judiciously. Red “power suits” are few and far between. Consider a tan skirt with a red blouse, or add red shoes or a red purse to an otherwise neutral outfit.

Pink can convey warmth, delicacy, and femininity. Too much pink might be perceived as “girly” or less than serious.

Orange is cheerful, invigorating, and warm. Orange has been trending for some time now but just because it’s out there doesn’t mean you should wear it. It is best either as one statement piece or as a component of a pattern. Don’t wear a truly “orange” lipstick. Orange lips aren’t natural—but peachy ones are. If you have a cool skin tone, consider raspberry or blue-red instead of orange. Or, choose to wear orange away from your face.

Blue is cool and is perceived as sincere and trustworthy. It’s also considered a “conservative” color because it conveys reliability and dependability. If you are not a conservative kind of person, opt for more vibrant hues of blue, such as aqua or sapphire.

Purple is associated with royalty: It’s a luxurious color. Purple occurs least frequently in nature, so people do take notice when you wear grape, violet, plum, or lilac.

Go ahead and experiment with color. Learn your skin tone (warm or cool) and then try out a new color: orange-red or blue-red; grape or plum; peach or orange.

If you would like to learn more you about the psychology of color:

Color – Message and Meanings: A Pantone Color Resource by Leatrice Eiseman

Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life by Faber Birren

For information on Emily Post Business Etiquette Programs contact Steven Puettner, Director of Sales, at Steven@emilypost.com or 802-860-1814.