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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.

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.
Philip Tunnell, Oman

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.
Greg, UK in NL

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.
Lokendra, India

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.
Kurt Dreas, USA

I agree we should be careful with wearing red colour to work

Tao Hu, Canada
I agree with fashion experts that we should be careful with wearing red colour to work. I am a lady and a software designer. Most of my shirts are of neutral colour, blue, black, or white. Only one short sleeve wool shirt of mine is red, the very feminine red. When I occasionally put on this shirt and go to work, I become too self-conscious. So, unless I really want to have a relaxed day at work, I prefer to wear my other shirts.
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."
Nedko Nedev, UK - Bulgaria

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.
Pete Hazell, UK, wearing a black, Nehru collared jacket with a dark blue shirt

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.
Lackvinder Singh Chana, England

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).
Olga De Feo, Italian-born, resident UK

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.
Lucie, Czech Republic

It's well known that we designers favour black.

Kate, York
I'm a designer and it's well known that we designers favour black. I have no idea why, other than the fact that we tend to be a little overweight due to sitting behind screens all day, and have enough visual sense to know that black is flattering. If we were all judged on the colour(s) we wear, then most designers would be uncreative, morose and depressive┐then again, they may have a point!
Kate, York

Watch out for Tony Blair's purple ties. You know it's an important speech when a purple tie comes out.
Alex White, UK

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.
Andrew Crane, USA (formerly UK)

What we wear says things like 'I want to look cool'

Christine, Suffolk, UK
Yes, what we wear affects what people think - but that doesn't mean that it is better to wear a suit than jeans. What we wear says things like 'impact matters to me' or 'I want to look cool' or 'my uniform is black', or 'I'm much too practical to be worried about such trivia'. One way or another, some sort of 'statement' is made.
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.
Stuart, UK

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.
Santina, UK

Bright colours show an inferiority complex and a desire to attract attention

Agha Ata, USA
A person judging a candidate for a job can hardly be colour blind. God never made this world in black and white. Colours do have their affect.

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.
Agha Ata, Houston, USA

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".
Alison Harrower, UK

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.
Rebecca, At work in the UK, wearing black and blue

As long as you are comfortable in the clothes you wear then you should perform at your best

Paul Robertson, UK
As long as you are comfortable in the clothes you wear then you should perform at your best, in whatever role that is. A smart black suit and lilac shirt can feel comfortable on one person and feel out of place for another. Wear what you want and if someone else has a problem or tries to analyse it then that's their issue.
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?
Guy Chapman, UK

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.
Lesley Hart, Glasgow

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.
Sonny Azhaki, UK

So long as the candidate is presentable I don't give what they wear a moment's thought

Mike Burns, UK
I spend a lot of time doing IT recruitment, and from my perspective so long as the candidate is presentable I don't give what they wear a moment's thought. I'm more interested in whether they can program.
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.
Pat, UK

People who judge anything by the colour of shirt you wear have too much free time and not enough common sense.
Stuart Dawson, Hong Kong

The only thing my clothes can tell you is what was left over in the sale at Next.
Andrew Moore, UK

People dress a little shabbily and in rather drab colours

Andrew Crane, USA (formerly UK)
During my visits to the UK I notice that people dress a little shabbily and in rather drab colours. At the workplace clothing is more formal than in the USA. Americans are heavily into "business casual" which allows for more adventurous colour choices.
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.
Daniel Rego, USA

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!
Richard, UK

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!
Andrew, UK

Why not emulate Mother Nature and wear every colour of the rainbow?

Mogbeast, UK
In terms of dressing badly, no-one beats the 'social expert'. Guess they don't do very well at interviews so they become self-employed and help the gullible flunk any interviews that may come their way. Green suggests nausea to most people I know. Why not emulate Mother Nature and wear every colour of the rainbow? One of them must hit the mark. This all smacks of encroaching Americanisation i.e. drivel.
Mogbeast, UK

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.
E. Rchette, Canada

Maybe we should all go into the office nude. Would that say anything, do you think?
Kate, UK

Colour experts are the new black, didn't you know?
John McVey, Scotland

Sad but true

Tim, UK
Sad but true. People do judge on looks, dress sense etc before they even know a person. You could take the best mathematician in the world and they would easily get a good job at, say an accountants, but give him a punk hair-do and ripped jeans and they wouldn't be allowed in the door.
Tim, UK

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!
Andrew Carter, UK

Judge people on their records, not on how well they wear a suit

Bill, UK
55 per cent of the impact you make at work is down to how you dress? That could explain why in this country we screw it up so badly whenever we try to build a dome, a bridge or a sports stadium. Judge people on their records, not on how well they wear a suit.
Bill, UK

I am a secretary and find that wearing what some might see as inappropriate dress gets me noticed.
Claire, Essex

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.
Andy, UK

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.
People who say that what they look like is not important have no pride in their appearance which may well be reflected in their work.
Rebecca, London

I would be appalled if my work were judged on my taste in colours, particularly as it changes from day to day

Sarah, UK
I find I have become more aware recently of the effect different colours have on the way I am treated, not necessarily at work, but in the Paris metro. I have realised that if I wear a bright red dress, a colour which exudes confidence and strong personality, dodgy men are less likely to harass me than if I'm wearing a meek little beige or black. I would be appalled if my work were judged on my taste in colours, particularly as it changes from day to day.
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!
Frank Murphy, Scotland

They say I do not listen to superficial airheads who make themselves experts on matters of sheer nonsense.
Gerry, Scotland

Black - sophisticated, classic, timeless, London, Milan, Paris, New York...
Ed Vista, UK

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!
Dan, UK

I'm used to getting paid for what I do, not what I look like

If anyone judges me by the colours I wear and not by my performance then I don't want to work for them. I'm used to getting paid for what I do, not what I look like.

What nonsense. As for myself, I wear black as much as possible...
Antony, UK

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!
Jemima, UK

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!
Shaun Prior, Scotland

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21 Aug 01 | Business
Colour me professional
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