Evolution in the realm of fashion has brought about countless new color freedoms and opportunities for men. When a man knows how to utilize color, he can create a signature style that reflects his personality and makes him look his absolute best. Increasing numbers of men have started to take charge of their outfit and color selections, and they have discovered the many benefits that come from making their own style choices. But despite having more possibilities than ever before, it’s still important for a man to follow proven standards and guidelines when building his business wardrobe.
Regardless of a person’s gender, image is everything. Your visual presence will impact the way others perceive you – for better or worse. Remember that colors send out powerful messages to other people, and that you’ll say a lot about yourself through the colors you choose to wear. Communicating with color can be a very powerful tool, especially in business, so make sure to use it to your advantage when coordinating your corporate attire.
Because many professions require employees to dress conservatively, men should base their business wardrobes around traditional, interchangeable colors. These versatile hues are called Crossover Colors, and they are appropriate to wear in any environment. In addition to providing the foundation for your wardrobe, these classic colors possess enough of a mix to keep your outfits from looking drab. Crossover Colors include charcoal gray, khaki, black, navy blue, taupe, and dark brown. A man can also incorporate certain variations of eggplant, wine, and forest green.
“You can stay within the framework of the most basic Crossover Colors and have a very workable, acceptable wardrobe,” says Leatrice Eiseman, founder of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, and author of More Alive with Color.
While your business wardrobe should be built around these color staples, you still have the liberty of exploring some additional color choices. Excessive use of flashy, unconventional colors is distracting in business, and it will make you look peculiar and out of place. But working some splashes of vibrant color into your shirt selections and/or tie patterns is perfectly acceptable, and it can really set you apart from the rest.
In order to make sure that you integrate bright colors appropriately, it’s important for you to become familiar with your Colortime. As described in Leatrice Eiseman’s book, More Alive with Color, your Colortime is composed of the flattering shades that are most appealing to you. More Alive with Color will teach you about the three Colortimes (Sunrise, Sunlight, and Sunset), and will show you how to pick the Colortime that suits you the best. You’ll also find out how to wear the bright colors in your Colortime.
“Try ‘sparking up’ your business outfits by adding bright colors from your Colortime,” says Leatrice. “Shades like ‘Sparkling Grape’ from Sunrise, ‘Silver Lake Blue’ from Sunlight, and ‘Cayenne’ from Sunset look great when used as a vivid accent for corporate attire.”
Become familiar with your color palette and Colortime and be aware of the shades that look best on you. There are several ways for you to integrate your favorite bright colors into your work clothes.
“You can always spark it up with a shirt or accent in your own palette like a soft mauve, light lavender, or deep peach,” says Leatrice Eiseman.
When using bright accent colors like classic red, sunny yellow, or teal, make sure to choose low-key, subtle patterns. Thin stripes, tiny paisley prints, and small polka-dots work best. Also, a man shouldn’t be intimidated to wear accent colors with feminine names. There are some shades of rose, pink, and/or violet that will look extremely appealing on you!
When attempting to decide what goes with what, it’s a good rule of thumb to go with classic combinations. Leatrice Eiseman lists several “fool-proof” men’s business wear looks in her book, More Alive with Color:
– Solid suit, patterned shirt, solid tie
– Solid suit, patterned tie, solid shirt
– Solid suit, solid shirt, solid tie (only if one element is colorful or contrasting, for example, navy suit, sky blue shirt, wine-colored tie)
These classic pairings always look great, and if you mix and match the items in your wardrobe, you’re sure to come up with countless ways of putting them together.
There are some common mistakes you should veer away from when bringing together the clothes in your business wardrobe. Pairing slightly different shades of the same color (e.g., taupe shirt, khaki pants, and khaki tie) can make you look washed out and monochromatic. A business outfit needs at least two colors that have different undertones – that is, two colors that aren’t simply lighter or darker versions of the same color. Also, it’s important to consider the overall feel, textures, and patterns of the clothes you decide to pair together. Wearing clothes with bold patterns in alternating directions, mismatched textures (light silks with heavy wool fabrics, for example), and/or contrasting moods will make your look appear unfinished and/or badly coordinated.
Exuding an aura of polished professionalism through a well-developed signature style is especially important for men in the world of business. Creating a traditional business wardrobe with accents in your favorite, most flattering colors will enable you to increase your level of confidence. You’ll also be able to convey your message and establish your signature style while making a powerful first impression.
To find out about which colors look best on you, to discover how to form a great business wardrobe, and to discover your signature Colortime, make sure to check out Leatrice Eiseman’s book, More Alive with Color!