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Monday, 27 August, 2001, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
What do the colours you wear say about you?
Red, green or lavender? The colours you wear to a job interview can make all the difference, according to colour experts.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Research suggests that 55% of the impact you make at work depends on how you look and behave - only 7% on what you actually say.
Red can be intimidating - hot colours are not good for the office, say fashion editors - while green is soothing and is said to show commitment.
Although bright colours give off confidence, experts advise that you should judge the situation carefully before you pull out your most colourful shirt.
What do the colours you wear say about you? Can they make a difference? Or should we just wear what we feel comfortable in?
I lived and worked in Bermuda for three years where everyone wears bright colours and even the houses are painted in pastel colours. On my leave I occasionally returned to England and, especially in the depths of winter where everyone seems to wear dark colours, I found it very depressing. Wearing bright colours definitely has a psychological effect on people. Reds and oranges give the impression of warmth, greens of calmness etc.
However, it is also a fact that people's opinions are biased when it comes to other peoples dress. For example, a skinhead wearing jeans and boots would automatically be classed as racist or a motor cyclist wearing a studded leather jacket would be considered a Hell's Angel-type person. We all know that these opinions are not necessarily true but, unfortunately, most of us suffer from prejudices. It is a fact of life, whether you like it or not, that first impressions are what most of us base our opinions of other people on.
As someone who has interviewed hundreds of people I am often amazed at how scruffily and sometimes physically dirty people turn up for an interview.
People should remember that it is they who want something from me - i.e. a job. Therefore I assume that that they are putting on their best performance for me. If they are dirty at this point what will they be like in six months time? It may well be me who has to sit next to them all day.
As for those who claim that it is only their brain that counts, unfortunately this is not true - you cannot just send your brain into work, you come as a package deal.
It hardly makes any difference which colour you are wearing because anybody is sitting in the interview board is not much impressed by your clothes but the skills you posses and the right guy for a right job.
If you're looking to be hired, try to dress similar to the person who interviews you. Then later you can express yourself (if they let you). You have to play by their rules, to be let in to the game. Remember, you're trying to convince them to let you take their money, a dress code is a small price to pay.
Tao Hu, Canada
To translate an old Bulgarian saying: "the way people meet you depends on your clothes but the way they send you off depends on your brain."
Does anybody care what fashion experts think? How often do you have a fashion expert sitting in on a job interview to advise the interviewer on what the applicant's clothes say about them? I may be wrong, but the fashion industry seems to exist solely to provide employment for people who couldn't possibly find work anywhere else.
I think people should wear what they want and what they feel comfortable in. If you don't feel comfortable in what you wear, you won't feel confident about yourself and other people will be able to see that in you then.
I'm very lucky to have worked for various companies/organisations for which my attire was not significant. I'm free to wear almost anything I like for the office in my present job, as long as it's decent and presentable. This means that I can feel comfortable in clothes that reflect my personality and my mood, which changes every day, ranging from all-black to lime green tops (true), and my boss never loses sight of my skills, which are the reason he employed me for in the first place. In my home country, Italy, people tend to go to work in less formal clothes, but we often conform because we are afraid of rejection; however, I find that he who dares wins (often if not always).
The interviewers may finally choose you because of your proper dress, but if such a dress is not natural for you to wear, sooner or later your style will change to your old one and then you may
face a surprising reaction from your superior. Or worse - you will adapt yourself to that affectation and later realise that you have lost yourself. My advice is simple: be natural and ignore would be clever advisers - it has a short-term effect.
Watch out for Tony Blair's purple ties. You know it's an important speech when a purple tie comes out.
Ignore the "expert" and NEVER wear green. My dad used to tell me green is for gardeners, never wear brown in town and never lend a fiver to a chap wearing suede shoes.
Christine, Suffolk, UK
I don't know about work, but I can get on trains and ferries for free if I dress up in reflective overalls and don't shave for a few days.
For me it is important to see how good a person is or would be in doing his/her job, not what nice clothes he/she wears.
In India they use colours to their full affect. A bride always wears red, which means sex, passions, and happiness. Red is also king of colours and a colour of kings (hence red carpet treatment). A yogi wears orange that keeps insects and moths away from his body; a pundit wears white which is the symbol of purity. Blue is soothing, pale green is hunger killing, red in spotted affect is an appetiser. Neutral colours show serious and responsible nature; bright colours show an inferiority complex and a desire to attract attention. No doubt we need to learn more about colours than we actually know.
I always wear a red suit to interviews so that I stand out - if interviewers have seen 10 different people the same day all spouting carefully rehearsed examples of their "leadership skills" or "team building skills", then having a bright suit that helps you to stand out from the crowd is to your advantage. They may not remember your name but will remember "the girl in the red suit".
Try as we might, us humans just can't be objective when it comes to fellow humans. When you're being interviewed, the interviewer - no matter how desperately hard they try not to - will decide whether they want you or not within the first couple of minutes. Needless to say, this is based on appearance and posture/ body language and, if you're lucky, your answer to the first question. The remainder is left to the halo effect - if they like you within those first crucial minutes, then whatever you say after that will sound good to them.
Paul Robertson, UK
So what you are saying is that when I get to work and change from my bright yellow cycling jersey into my black polo shirt and black jeans, I stop being a vibrant and interesting person and become dull and insipid. How does that work, then?
The worse offenders are the tabloids. Remember the Michael Foot incident on Remembrance Day? He won my respect by turning up not by what he was wearing.
It's sad that 55% are judged by what boring sobre clothes they wear to a job interview.
As for me, I prefer to be undressed - i.e. walk into a job interview in the nude, as I feel more comfy this way. But, alas, we live in a repressed society where we have to be encumbered by clothes.
So I am forced to switch between black and white, and the occasional raunchy red just to peeve people off.
My advice to people is wear whatever you are comfortable in and use your brains for getting that great job.
Mike Burns, UK
I used to conform to what is considered to be 'business dress', i.e. a suit and heeled shoes. However, as the office is old and rather shabby, the heating doesn't work and air conditioning is non-existent I now come to work in more casual attire so that I can dress to suit the weather/ temperature/ work I will be doing etc. I'm a lot happier and I feel I work better too. My employer - the NHS.
People who judge anything by the colour of shirt you wear have too much free time and not enough common sense.
The only thing my clothes can tell you is what was left over in the sale at Next.
Andrew Crane, USA (formerly UK)
It is not so much what you wear, it is dressing in such a way as to complement or draw attention to your strengths.
Well for my line of work - hard core computer programming - wearing black jeans, a "Megadeth" T-shirt and a ponytail actually helped me get my job!
If you feel good about your appearance then this will boost you confidence especially if you're about to ask your boss for a pay rise!
I agree that the way we present ourselves does have an effect on how we are treated in the working environment. Going to work in jogging pants and a red t-shirt one may be treated less seriously than someone in a suit and a red collar shirt. I don't believe that it is the colours you wear but the style and formality of the clothes.
Maybe we should all go into the office nude. Would that say anything, do you think?
Colour experts are the new black, didn't you know?
The research is 'old hat' and been known for years. Nevertheless, it is true. Those who listened to the famous Nixon v Kennedy debate on the radio judged Nixon the winner. Those who saw it on TV judged him the loser by a mile. It may not be right or fair but it is true. First what you look like, then how you say your message, then the message itself. Those correspondents who loftily place themselves above this should check on their own reactions every time they meet someone new, in business or personal life. In business, part of what you 'do' is present an image. If you're lucky enough never to have to meet or talk to a colleague, client or member of the public, then lucky for you but otherwise, smarten yourself up and look the part!
I am a secretary and find that wearing what some might see as inappropriate dress gets me noticed.
It seems there an 'expert' for every thing these days. Well I'm an expert on colour and fashion experts. After much experting around in an expert kind of way I found that their favourite colour tends to be brown.
I work in a professional environment and it is important how people dress. This is not only because this is an office and not a holiday camp but also because we meet clients etc who expect standards of dress too.
Sarah, UK, resident in France
Of course it makes a difference. Unless the interview was for a beach bar, turning up in a Hawaiian shirt will usually not get you the job, but dull, dark and sober suits will. It's not so much the actual colour, but the conformity of the ensemble. Brighten up the office!
They say I do not listen to superficial airheads who make themselves experts on matters of sheer nonsense.
Black - sophisticated, classic, timeless, London, Milan, Paris, New York...
Wearing clothes that are comfortable helps you to work at your best (particularly when sitting in front of a computer all day) and I always like to think that some colour brightens up everyone's day - including mine!
What nonsense. As for myself, I wear black as much as possible...
Even if there is truth in this research surely people have enough to worry about without adding which shade of green to wear to an interview. Who commissioned this research anyway?, If they want to give their money away I'm more than willing to come up with a new equally pointless research topic!
What a load of old poppycock! It is being able to justify the countless "porkies" in your CV that will define how well an interview goes. The only scenario where wearing distinctive colours might prove of real benefit would be if one were applying for the job of Scottish referee and then sporting a Rangers Strip would secure the job regardless of ability!
21 Aug 01 | Business
Colour me professional
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