What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?

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How does the contrast of your clothes communicate?

Did you know that wearing different contrast levels (both value contrast and colour contrast) communicate in different ways?

In this video Jill Chivers of Shop Your Wardrobe and I talk about the psychology of contrast and how it communicates so you can use this knowledge to your best advantage.

What Contrast Communicates

Value Contrast

Value contrast (the difference between the lightness and darkness of different elements of your outfit) ┬árepresents a continuum of authoritative to approachable (yang to yin – which you can find out more about here).

High Contrast

Uniforms, authority, judges, law enforcement, corporate business all use this to gain the visual impression of power and authority.

If you have dark hair and pale skin, you are seen as more naturally authoritative.

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?
The medium high value contrast of 2 neutrals makes this outfit more conservative in it’s colour scheme (though the choice of a spot pattern is more fun as it’s yin and the pink accessories add a pop of colour that moves it away from being to serious).

Medium Contrast

More approachable but still with some authority.

Low Contrast

Softer and more approachable, particularly when used in lighter and medium colours as they are

This contrast is great for gaining consensus.

Here is the post on the “stair concept of contrast” that I mention in this video.

If you are naturally lower value contrast, how do you increase your contrast and still look harmonious with your colouring, use the steps between low and high contrast to make the contrast feel more blended and more natural on you.

This blog post can be a helpful additional tool to read about how to put together a higher value contrast without it overwhelming your lower value contrast colouring.

Colour Contrast

Low Colour Contrast

Traditional business wear is naturally lower colour contrast, mostly neutral with only a small pop of colour, if any colour at all.

This means that we see a lower colour contrast as more serious and businesslike.

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?
Notice how the lower colour contrast of this outfit makes it feel more serious than the one below, which includes coloured elements.

 

It can also make you disappear a little more, so if you need to be a ‘fly on the wall’ this can be a good way of dressing.

High Colour Contrast

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?
The colourful skirt and multi coloured tops make this outfit of a corporate pencil skirt feel more relaxed and friendly.

This makes an outfit more fun, vibrant and exciting.

The more colours you add to an outfit, the more visible you become, and the more fun and less business-like the outfit becomes.

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?
The addition of a coloured cape and shoes (and bangle) make this outfit feel more fun and vibrant, less serious!

Adding more colours brings more creativity to your outfit and can be good to use in more creative and less corporate environments.

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?
Larger amounts of a warm bright colour (red here) take an outfit into more fun and vibrant territory.

It’s also great for appearing more friendly, so a party or social gathering is a great place to wear high colour contrast rather than wearing neutrals or low colour contrast.

When you’re deciding what you want your clothes to say for you on your behalf, consider your contrast levels, both colour and value, to really aid you in your communication, goals and life objectives.

There are posts below that can help you discover your ultimate contrast, and you can download my 3 step formula here, or if you’d like my professional opinion, you can get that as part of my 7 Steps to Style program (along with your personal colour analysis plus a whole lot more).

More on Contrast

How to Find Your Ultimate Contrast – Your Three Step Process

7 Important Factors for Working with Contrast

The Value of Value Contrast and Using it to Create Stunning Outfits

Where Celebrities Go Right and Wrong with Their Contrast

Getting Your Head Around Value and Contrast – the Celebrity Version

What is the Contrast of Your Outfit Telling The World About You?

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