Do you ever wonder why some people look fab in black, while others look sinister? Want to add a dash of colour to your professional wardrobe without looking like a clown (or 7th month Getai singer)?
I found out the answers to this and more at a recent Colour Dynamics seminar organised by Jill Lowe International, thanks to my buddy James Soh (Living in Singapore Today) and the folks from Jill Lowe. Held at their cosy premises at level 2 of the Raffles Hotel Arcade, the session provided much food for thought.
– Light colours are better for first impressions, be it job interviews, dates, client meetings and so on.
– If you match your skirt or pants with your shoe colour, you will look taller. Conversely, if you match your blouse or shirt with your shoe colour, you will look shorter.
– Guys shouldn’t cross their legs the same way as ladies do (some “ventilation” is needed)!
– Accessories can help to make a black or white outfit come alive for ladies. However, you need to match them carefully according to projected authority levels.
– Clothes should make the woman (or man) rather than the other way round. In other words, you should dress for a person to remember you rather than your wardrobe!
Peppered with examples from Hollywood and fashion, image consultant Gwen Goh spoke with much aplomb about the characteristics of colours and how they influence perception and behaviour. Consider the qualities of the following colours:
WHITE: Representing cleanliness, purity and innocence, white is supposedly the best colour in the wardrobe as it combines all 3 primary colours. It is a good colour for people in the sales professions (insurance, real estate), and can be worn with any colours. Those with warm skin tones should go for warm white while those with cool skin tones should opt for cool white. On the flip side, white may make people look fat and get dirty easily!
BLACK: Considered by many to be slimming, classy, mysterious, black is usually the most widely used colour in the corporate world. Care must be taken when wearing black as it projects seriousness, dominance, and danger (hence doctors should never wear black). Like white, there are several shades of black from midnight black to jet black. To wear this, you should try to use accessories to break from the monotony.
BLUE: Calm, cool, stable, trustworthy, and masculine, blue is probably the safest colour – conversely it can be boring, cold and old. To spice up your wardrobe, consider matching it with yellow (blue shirt and yellow tie?), wearing a blue scarf or other ways of mixing. People in technical, security (think Police officers and “jagas”) and academic professions should go for this colour. Blue comes in different tints like cyan, turquoise, indigo, and midnight blue.
PINK: This is probably the most feminine colour, suggesting playfulness, sweetness, vibrance and romance which could also be too loud or girlish for guys. Men who can carry this off well portray an air of confidence. Apparently, pink is good for dates, fund raising efforts, pastoral work or family bonding. Pink should not be used for a top to toe dressing unless you want to look like Hello Kitty!
James looking resplendent in peach pink. Time to ditch those stale colours dude!
Participants next learnt about the palettes of the four seasons and how we each have a different “season” depending (I suspect) on our skin tone, hair, eye colour and to some degree, personality. Different shades and tints on a palatte will determine the difference between the seasons.
Here’s what I noted from the session:
SPRING: Generally considered the attractive type, Spring celebrities include Clay Aitken and Nicole Kidman. The shades of colour used here are bright and cheery but not overpowering.
SUMMER: Folks belonging to this category should don soft pastel colours, aiming for a porcelain doll look. Examples include Kate Winslett and Vicki Zhao Wei – both fine examples of damsels in distress!
AUTUMN: There are the drivers and movers (Gwen says I’m very autumn.. err hmmph), and the colours are normally more muted like rust red, most browns, olive green, chrome yellow. Three good Hollywood examples are Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman – all smart women in the controlling seat!
Cheryl is quite an autumn person apparently
WINTER: These are the ice queens and kings, and their numbers include Gong Li, Tom Cruise, Maggie Cheung and Pierce Brosnan. A more dramatic and striking use of colours is preferred here with brighter and sharper shades.
Upcoming singer and host Mint trying on a wintry shade of blue
Up next, Harvard trained coach and trainer Marion Neubronner shared with us a startling fact: only 5% of trainees usually made the change after attending such an image makeover session. Considered the peak performers, these are the folks who are constantly learning new things and willing to work to make the difference. They also surround themselves with positive people.
Marion urged us to make the leap forward by discarding our unmatchable clothes (based on skin tone and palette), understand than being outstanding may require us to be uncomfortable (at least initially), and to keep ourselves centred on what our values are. The act of changing our outer image/clothes actual jumpstarts a deeper renewal process within each and everyone of us.
Bottom line? We are all beautiful/handsome in our own special ways and we should not be afraid of letting that inner beauty shine through.
Before we left for the night, Jill Lowe herself shared how she started the business way back in 1984 as a 19 year old doing facials, incorporated the company as a brand in 1991, and worked towards what the company is today. Its laudable to consider her ambition of making her company a premium Asian brand in image and personal asset management.
Having experienced the Colour Dynamics seminar myself, I must say that it is useful not only for ladies but guys who wish to change how they project themselves. Will I be like the 5% of “peak performers” willing to discard my old wardrobe? Well, let me leave you guessing for now.
For more information on Jill Lowe’s “presence communication” and image enhancing programmes, check out their website, in particular the section on their corporate programmes for companies.