When you’re putting together an outfit, always consider what you want to communicate with it.
Ask yourself what the situation/occassion you are wearing it. Who you are going to be interacting with, and how you want to be perceived.
Then you can use this knowledge to choose the right combination of colours and contrast to assist you in communicating with your image (before you even open your mouth) they way that you want.
Do you want to be more professional or approachable?
If you want to appear more approachable or fun, then go for a higher percentage of light colours in your outfit.
Now here is an example of how changing just the top changes how the whole outfit communicates. By changing the top from a light blue to a navy, the proportion of light to dark changes and suddenly the outfit commmunicates a stronger, overall more authoritative message. But because the white jacket goes over the dark top, there is still a very approachable element to this outfit as we will see more light near the face than dark. So it’s not as overall professional as wearing a light top with a dark jacket.So if you were wearing an outfit like this for a casual Friday at work, then if you need to look more professional, choose a darker top, if you want to look more friendly, then choose a lighter top.
Do you want to be more formal or friendly?
Now if you’re going out for an evening. Consider the colours you choose to wear. Which outfit is friendlier? Which more formal?
You can see by adding in more colour, you reduce the formality of how an outfit communicates.
If you find social situations hard work (more likely you’re more introverted or shy) then why not avoid that LBD (which will just communicate a “stay away from me” vibe), instead opt for a brighter lighter more “fun” dress that will help draw others to you.
You can use this knowledge to also balance your own appearance. If you are more naturally high value contrast, and you want to be perceived as more friendly, then add more colour or lightness to your outfit to assist you in communicating a more approachable appearance.
If you have overall ligher colouring, then you will be perceived as more friendly (it’s one of the bizarre things I’ve learned since going from brunette to blonde, now I’m apparently more approachable and friendly, I’ve been told this on a number of occasions!). But you may find then that you need to wear a higher percentage of darker colours to work to add in that powerful presence you might want in the office.
Further Reading on Yin and Yang and How Outfits Communicate
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