Similar to body shapes, many image consultants still group their clients into categories like “warm autumns” and “cold winters.” This is not only out-dated, but it’s also really just an oversimplification. First of all, it’s very possible that you’re in one color group depending on the place and climate you were born in. Simply said, people from Africa or South America can often wear yellow, while people of Asian descent often look terrible in yellow. Furthermore, it makes a difference whether you wear those colors close to your face or at your legs. Your color profile changes while you age. Last but not least—and most importantly—those color themes stand in no relation at all to your industry, your position, your career, the given requirements of your job, and again the occasion.
As always, the occasion is key
If someone were to tell me to wear light, bright rose because it’s in my color theme, I would not recommend doing that if you are a young female leader who faces the challenge that everyone thinks you’re always nice, cute, small, unseen, and invisible. If someone were to tell me to wear white because it’s in my color theme—well, it’s one of the worst things to do when you’re on stage or in front of a camera. And if you work in healthcare or as a social worker, that head-to-toe black outfit doesn’t seem to be very approachable for others.
How about uniforms?
Let’s not forget those employees who do not have a choice because they have to wear uniforms. You think that is rare? Think again. Department stores, security companies, hospitals, and airlines do not care if charcoal makes their people look pale or dreary, or if it’s not in your color theme. What they care about is consistency and professionalism in their employees’ appearance, and their staff just has to make it work. And let’s just be honest, there’s also an unspoken uniform in finance and law, where suit colors that depart from navy, charcoal, or black are the exception.
Instead of thinking in color themes, use color for your advantage.
There are indeed colors you might look better with, and you should wear them close to your face. But make sure those colors match the requirements of your industry, your job, or the occasion. Just because it’s neon pink, you should think about the risk of being the only neon-pink dressed lawyer in the room. Furthermore, if those baggy hips are the parts of your body you do not adore, why would you point them out and draw everyone’s attention to them by wearing a pair of red pants? Skip them for the pair of black pants, and wear red on top, so everyone sees your beautiful neck and shoulders. Use color carefully. A great way is to use accessories with colors. Jewelry, ties, or socks work well. Make it your individual signature.
There are practical considerations too
I don’t want you to think colors themes don’t matter at all. In fact, you should always take in consideration if the color flatters you, or not. Even if you want to show up in a spectacular color if it’s the worse color in your color themes you shouldn’t choose it. However, traditional color consultants (or those who call themselves image consultants) often make you believe it’s the only and most important decision to make. And I simply have to disagree, because you also have to bear in mind, if you’ll be in the spotlight, if there are practical considerations, if the chosen colors express your individuality, or if there is a need for a symbolic message through the colors you wear.