How to Look Serious or Authoritative when You Have Light and Warm Colouring


I’ve recently received a couple of emails asking for help:
Which (flattering) colors would you choose to make light spring look serious?

Thanks for sharing those videos about finding your right colors. Very informative AND inspiring. This explains why I have a hard time finding serious looking, neutral color combinations that suit me. I always feel best wearing lighter, brighter and warmer colors.

My eyes are light turquoise, my skin is ivory coloured, and my hair is a dark golden/reddish blonde or light brown, not quite sure in which category to put it.

I receive compliments when wearing coral pink, watermelon red, light warm green, and almost any shade of bluegreen/turquiose, and even bright yellow! These are all beautiful colors that I love, but they don’t make me look serious and professional, especially not if I combine them.

I try wearing neutrals. Black is too harsh. Grey is awful, it makes me look sick. Dark blue just doesn’t look like a part of me. Light navy looks nice, but I don’t really think that is a neutral color. Most browns are to heavy. Some medium dark caramel or golden browns can work, but I don’t think they look as neutral anymore because they have a lot of yellow and red in them. If I combine golden brown with blue-green, the colors will look nice together and they will suit me, but I will stand out in the office, and the overall impression will not be neutral at all.

I often end up wearing black to work. In the weakend I look like a peacock, just to catch up with all the colors that I missed wearing during the week.

I could really need some advice on how to look serious AND feel like myself at the same time. Do you have any suggestions, Imogen? I feel like I have tried everything, but maybe I missed out something important.

looking authoritative in warm colours


When the traditional ‘business neutrals’ aren’t flattering what should you choose?  Wear black and grey and look like death warmed up, or wear your warm neutrals and look more colourful and less serious?

This is a difficult issue, particularly if your style isn’t traditional and classic (suited).

Some options you can consider:

  1. Go for clothes that are more classic in style, so the slightly more obvious colours don’t stand out as much as the style is more conservative.
  2. Look for taupes and browns, green grey and marine navy (which is a navy with a hint of green) rather than the traditional black, grey neutrals.  These still have enough warmth without being unflattering or too obvious.
  3. Combine the more brown or taupe neutrals together in your clothes, use colours in scarves or accessories to add obvious colour, which will make your clothes look more neutral.
  4. Look for clothes with structure which have a more formal appearance.  From collars to set-in sleeves they will give you the more professional look.


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  • Thank you! As a person with autumn coloring, I have difficulty fitting into the black/navy power-suit look. This was very helpful and I have many new ideas about what to wear.

  • Loved the look of the DP dress in this post so ordered it. Sadly the reality not up to the image. Nicely made and decent fabric, but the way the cap sleeves have been cut focuses all attention on that small bit of fat between your underam and breast ( or maybe it’s just me!) Maybe if you are 20 and poker thin it would work!

    • Pity about that April – I hate that! It’s the problem with online shopping- you can’t know what a garment is really like til you see it in person and try it on!

  • I was intrigued by the opening question in this blog, the young woman with turquoise eyes (!), sun-highlighted light brown hair (I have the same color), fair skin, etc. who hadn’t yet found a good neutral for work. My eyes are olive green. I find olive to be a good neutral. I am not sure it’s in style right now but as colors like burnt orange and golden brown — 70’s colors — come back into fashion, so will olive. Olive might make a good year-round neutral for her. I understood her dilemma about black, I felt chic in it but never got any compliments. I’m also wondering why a corporate dress code is so rigid that only black seems to be sufficiently professional. What about black and white in the form of small houndstooth check or narrow pin stripes? Is there any latitude for a colorful purse, scarf or shoes?

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