The Psychology of Color: How What You Wear Can Affect Your Work Performance

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Article by Allie Lochiatto

If we were to take a look inside your closet, we’d probably find one or two colors to be predominant. Whether intentionally or not, most people tend to gravitate toward certain colors when shopping. Some may like the simplicity of a wardrobe filled with basic black, while others prefer shades that complement their skin tone or eyes.

But have you ever thought about how the colors you wear are perceived by others?

What you wear has an impact on how others view you, especially in the workplace. Moreover, we tend to subconsciously associate certain colors with certain psychological traits, as noted by Angela Wright, owner of the corporate consulting business Colour Affects. By wearing the right colors, you can be seen as more approachable, confident, or authoritative around the officer.

Consider how you’d like your coworkers and clients to perceive you, then choose your wardrobe accordingly:

Authoritative and Serious

Why is it that when meeting with a client or heading into an interview, we tend to reach for a black business suit? Simply put, it’s because black gives off a powerful and sophisticated vibe, especially in a professional setting. It’s slimming and sharp, and nothing purveys the seriousness of a matter more than a tailored black power suit. To avoid looking too blasé, add a pop of color by wearing a bright blouse or a fun pair of statement pumps.

Confident and Attention-Grabbing

If you want to mean business while turning heads, wear red. This fiery color often suggests passion, emotion, and assertiveness. Others will perceive you as direct, self-assured, and powerful. Invest in a red shift dress — it can be wonderful for those days when you need a confidence boost.

Trustworthy and Honest

When you want to play it safe, wear white. White is associated with purity and perfection, so it can work in your favor if you are summoned to your boss’s office. A classic white button-up will go a long way, but an oversized white blazer or a pair of white dress pants will get just as much wear.

Friendly and Approachable

Who doesn’t love the color pink and its playful, lighthearted vibe? Depending on your skin tone, pink can really accentuate your features, making you look approachable and genuine. Bright magenta complements deep skin tones, while pastel pink looks best on paler skin. Find a shade that works for your coloring and don’t be surprised if your coworkers look to you for a smile or a laugh.

Calming and Reassuring

If you have a stressful day ahead, don a shade of blue to calm both your own nerves and the nerves of those around you. The color of the sky and the sea, blue exudes a soothing sense peacefulness. In a business casual office, try a monochromatic look by wearing a blue blouse with a pair of dark jeans. In a more professional setting, pair a navy pencil skirt with a chambray button-up.

When you get dressed each morning, don’t just look at the weather forecast. Review your calendar and take note of any business meetings, stressful to-dos, or client luncheons scheduled for the day. Using these color psychology tips, reach for the pieces that will set you up for success.

A version of this article originally appeared on

By SUCCESS Magazine