How To Add Colour And Brighten Your Wardrobe For Work

Apr 08, 2016 1 Min Read


The Cambridge Dictionary defines charisma as, “a special power that some people have naturally that makes them able to influence other people and attract their attention and admiration.

In comics, superheroes were often guided by a superior person or being who enabled them to master their superpowers. Professor X would attest to this, having had numerous students under his tutelage. There are a bunch of ways you can make charisma your superpower. From experience, I’ve found fashion to be a great catalyst.

In my last article, we touched on understanding office dress codes, and how the right styling as well as a decent sense of fashion can elevate your image at work. Now that you’ve got the basics covered, let’s learn how bright colours at work can shine some light on all that charisma in you.

After all, a little bit more attention won’t hurt your confidence. The ladies might be more gung-ho for this, but guys, don’t be afraid to spice things up at work with a little bit of colour too. Remember, superheroes (except maybe Batman) weren’t afraid of a little colour.


Shopping basics: the minimalist

OK, so the biggest mistake you can make when it comes to wearing colour at work is trying to wear every possible colour you have in one outfit. That just makes you look like a clown. You don’t want that unless you intend to go from superhero to comic relief. So how do you add colour without sticking out like a sore thumb?

Rule number one, keep the basics in play—the blacks, the whites, the blues, the neutrals and the greys. On some occasions, multiple colours do work, but not all the time. So let’s say you’ve got this bright red flared skirt and you’re thinking of pairing it with a dark green top.

Stop! All that’s left is a yellow belt and you can start controlling traffic. (Granted, some colours work well together, like blue and yellow, so brush up on your colour combos—the shade and tone of the colour is a factor too.)

Instead pair a bright skirt with a white top, neutral-hued heels and clutch, and let the skirt stand out. Too many colours will confuse people and the clothes end up wearing you instead of you wearing them.


Patterns, colours, and prints

If you’re going for colours with patterns, I’d advise some caution. Pick the right combination of colours and patterns. Start safe with shapes or Aztec prints. They are in trend and work with a variety of colours.

Remember, weird patterns plus bright colours are best kept for raves. Guys take note: Weird patterns and bright colours on suits, not cool too.

There are a variety of dresses out there to choose from. Bright-coloured dresses with neutral accompaniments will make your dress pop while patterned dresses add a little more depth and edge.

Remember, when dealing with patterns, pay attention to the design. They can get pretty messy and tasteless. Keep it simple and not too complicated. Leave the avant-garde style for the runways and galleries.

Once again, Pinterest is your best friend. You can always count on it to point you in the right direction.

Also, here’s a tip: If you’re thinking of going all trendy with bright-coloured hair (that’s if your company is cool enough to allow funky hair colours), tone down on the coloured outfits.

It can work in a creative environment but it’s just too much in a corporate setting. Stay with the minimalist, monochrome looks. If you have to, have one more item complimenting the hair colour and let the hair stand out further.

I hear some of you say, “What if I liked my outfits in neutral colours but still want some added colour?” Normally, I’d say you don’t always get what you want, but that’s the thing about fashion; where there’s a will, there’s a way. Change up the shoes. Go for bright, pastel-coloured heels or flats, colourful sneakers for casual Fridays and if all else fails, coloured accessories!

Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, the possibilities are endless. A neutral outfit with a touch of colour is enough to add charisma to your look.


For men only: tops, bottoms, and shoesP08_0904_IM5

Guys, let’s talk about you for a moment. If you’re in a suit all day, play around with bright-coloured ties, pocket squares or different coloured shirts.

If you want to try bright-coloured blazers, maintain a neutral-coloured pair of pants and vice versa.

Imagine a bright green suit. . . ugh! If you’re just a shirt and slacks kind of guy, again, colourful ties or coloured suspenders work just as well to add a bit of character to your usual look.

For casual Fridays, pair a bright-coloured, fitted polo tee with a pair of jeans and sneakers. Pair a white shirt with light blue khakis and a pair of Chucks.

Play around with the colours but always remember to have a neutral colour present to maintain balance.

Still with me? Let’s talk about sneakers. This applies to both guys and girls.

I previously mentioned colourful sneakers, and they are great, but you must know how to differentiate between the tasteful and the tacky.

Don’t be stingy and drop some dough on a well-designed pair from brands like Adidas, Nike, Converse and more. Pick colours that complement your overall wardrobe.

Parting thoughts

Finally, take this simply as a guide. Sometimes, a little confidence is all that’s needed to bring out your full potential.

Fashion has a way of doing just that. If you want others to notice you, make yourself noticed!

If a bright blue shirt or striped leggings is what it takes, do it! There’s nothing wrong in building your self-esteem with a little bit of fashion, especially, if it puts the odds in your favour.

I mean, like Karl Lagerfeld said, “Vanity is the healthiest thing in life.” There’s got to be some truth in that. Till next time!

Joshua Desmond is a recording artist and an award-winning adman. Between music and work, he moonlights as a freelance image consultant and stylist. He works closely with Paperplane Pursuit and has appeared in publications such as Juice, Masses, August Man and Esquire. He was one of the Top 5 in Esquire Malaysia’s Best Dressed Real Man in 2014. He believes style does not require a huge bank account, just the right amount of inspiration and resourcefulness. To engage with us for more style tips, e-mail For more Image Matters articles, click here.

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Tamara was previously an assistant editor and writer with Leaderonomics. She loves thought-provoking conversations over cups of tea. If she is not writing, you might find her hiking up a mountain in search of a new waterfall to explore.

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