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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 20-Nov-09


Friday 20-November-09

Black to work

What should you wear if want to appear more powerful? Recent studies have shown that the most impactful colour is black. Black makes you seem serious and perhaps a bit mysterious. When you wear black, others will treat you with more respect and take greater notice of what you say.

Shirt and tie should coordinate well, with the tie either largely matching the shirt or be largely a contrast with pick-out colors that match the shirt. A white shirt is always safe, but beware of becoming monochrome -- a suitable tie will help. Don't go for an over-decorative tie. Simple lines is often best. A benefit of a black suit here is that it goes with most shirt and tie colours.

Shoes, needless to say, should shine. It is surprising how many people will judge you based on the state of your footwear. Keep to black socks too.

An argument here is whether brighter hues, including the tie, shows confidence or whether it just shows off (look at me!!). Generally, over-doing anything is not a good idea unless you're a rock star or otherwise hold a position where excess is 'good'.

Beware of following fashion: this says you are a follower, not a leader. Better is to keep to classic lines. The shirt collar, for example changes with the times -- a relatively wide aperture is better here, filled with a classic wide knot from a heavier-quality tie.

Women as well as men should also wear black, though strong solid colors are also effective. Margaret Thatcher, the dominating UK Prime Minister in the 1980s, wore bold blue suits. Strong colours can work, but you need the personality to carry them off.

A moderator on all the above is culture. The basis of the advice is Western business (and certain social) contexts. Other local and international cultures may dictate different clothes as most influential. In some contexts black may appear funereal rather than powerful. In others, a pristine white is what to wear. The bottom-line rule is that when you are visiting outside of your 'home' territory, get advice and observe the powerful people to whom other pay due regard.

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