If you had a blank canvas in front of you, what colours would you use to paint it? It could be one solid colour or a fistful of colours.
 
Welcome to the world of colours!
 
In many of my past blog posts such as Colour Analysis Workshop For Singapore Executives, Colour Analysis Workshops - The School of Makeup and Colour Analysis Workshop For Keppel FELS, I have shared at length about the benefits of colour analysis.

In today’s blog entry, I would like to induct everyone into another aspect of colours – namely the psychology.
 
Just like how English is accepted as the world’s universal language, so too is there a language behind every colour. And mind you, the message that each colour sends across will either rub someone the right way or wrong way. There are always two sides to the same coin, right? It all depends on the culture and circumstance. Simply put, each colour carries both positive and negative connotations. And the message sent across is a subtle one as it is non-verbal.

Let me share in greater detail the ten most common colours in the colour spectrum and the hidden psychology behind each of these colours.
 
 The colour black is the colour of death in most cultures. It is also the colour of mourning. Yet, for the people on the other side of the fence, black symbolizes coolness, character and mystery. Not forgetting for the ladies, black is a slimming colour. That’s why almost every lady has a little black dress (LBD) in her wardrobe. 

How about white? White is virginal and pure….just like the blank piece of canvas I invited everyone to paint on in the opener of this blog. However, this white age of innocence is also clinical, sterile and empty. 

How about blue? Well, blue is the colour of loyalty and integrity. That’s why our police force officers are dressed in blue. Blue is also the colour of the seas that separates continents. It conjures up images of being as boundless as the seven seas. On the other hand, blue can also be the personification of “Monday blues”. Blues or simply melancholy you may wish to term it.

How about red? Red is the colour of passion. As it is also the colour of our blood, many nations use red to denote the concept of brotherhood. During festive seasons like Lunar New Year, red is equivalent to prosperity. Conversely, red also symbolizes danger. And if you “see red”, you take offence at what others have done or said to you.

How about yellow? Remember the phrase “yellow dirty fella”? On the extreme end, I see someone wearing yellow as someone full of sunshine, always with a smiley face.

How about green? Green is THE colour we adopt to portray a sense of calmness and serenity in our lives. But too much green can evoke a sense of jealousy. 

How about pink? I love pink as it’s the colour of romance. Simply saccharine sweet, too much pink sends a signal that you are playful and cannot be taken too seriously. If you compare pink with blue – I’ll trust the guy wearing blue more as he’s more in control. This is especially true in the corporate world.

How about gray? Gray equals monotony and indecisiveness. Oh come on, did you not know that gray is a blend of white or black? So whose side are you on? 

How about brown? Brown, with its earthly hues, tells me you are trustworthy and dependable. More importantly, you are warm and friendly. Why else would you think the furniture and deco at Macdonalds and coffee joints like Starbucks etc are all woody and brown? They want to evoke a homely feeling so you frequent them more often. Yet too much brown will also send a psychological message that you are a boring person leading an uneventful life. The colour’s muted by the way…that’s why.

And lastly, how about purple? Purple is the colour of royalty. Many artistes in the creative and entertainment industries love a splash of purple. But if you overdo purple, you are simply trying to be opulent. 
 
Whether you are starting a business and deciding your website colours; or simply deciding what colour to wear for that day, always remember that colours play a seemingly subtle, while surprisingly huge part in sending non-verbal signals to others. 

So, what colour are you going to wear today?
 
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In today’s digital age, anyone can be a star these days. Through clever and selective presentation, we compete to see how many followers we have on Instagram or how many LIKES our posts have garnered on Facebook. While this is true on the personal front, the same cannot be said in the corporate world.
 
As the name suggests, the corporate world comes with its own set of rules governing what is acceptable behavior.
 
I was invited to give a corporate dressing talk at Schneider Electric today. It was heartening to see the room fill up quickly with eager participants who were a really friendly bunch of people. The smiles, giggles and laughter that permeated through the entire session were testimony to that. Not forgetting the spontaneity of the participants who stood up to ask questions along the way.
 
Here’s sharing my 3 rules to corporate dressing.

 
Rule #1: Who Are You Meeting?
 
We are surrounded by people everywhere we go. People can be classified into three types – our seniors (not only in terms of age but in terms of position as well), our contemporaries (who hold a similar position in another organization) and our juniors (think novices who are as blurry-eyed as the freshmen in university).
 
People like people to be like them. There is unity in strength. That’s why schools and public service sectors have uniforms. Similarly, the people you are meeting will dictate the dress code. If you want to engage in group-think and group-speak, then first, engage in group-dress. If you are wearing a suit and talking to a bunch of junior executives, I think they will feel you are barking at them rather than mingling with them. Ditch that suit and roll up your sleeves and hey, you never know how more chummy you guys will get.

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Rule #2: Where Are Your Going?
 
Think the occasion. The occasion dictates the type of dressing norms you should observe. In the corporate world, occasions can be differentiated into 6 main categories. These are board meetings, presentations, client meet-ups, networking sessions, entertainment night-outs and the typical day in the office.
 
For board meetings and presentations, I would strongly recommend both guys and ladies to wear a suit. Of course, the ladies can choose to wear a skirt or pants at the bottom.
 
Like it or not, the image of a suit sends across a message that you are to be taken seriously and more importantly, you mean business. Very often, you want your idea or proposal to be accepted under such circumstances.

For client meet-ups and networking sessions, you can afford to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants (for guys) and a dress (for ladies). This time round, the image is “softer” and projects a dual impression that you are both approachable and friendly. 
 
For entertainment night-outs, you can choose to go smart casual. After all, your client wants to see the fun side of you. 
 
For the typical day in the office, check what’s in the dressing dos and don’ts guidebook when you first got hired.

 
Rule #3: What Image Do You Want To Project?
 
In business, two adjectives come to mind. Are you professional and trustworthy?  
 
I wouldn’t do business with someone I cannot trust. If you are late for your appointments, turn up with a sweaty look or mismatched clothes, you are just sending me wrong signals. A lady wearing a super short skirt with an even shorter hemline is also not to be taken seriously. 

Business is time. And time is money. In the corporate world, this is even more pertinent. When you represent your company, the way you dress and the way you talk speaks volumes. 

Do not cut corners. Get dressed for success today. Remember, anyone can work hard, stay sharp and yet look good.

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