Dressing for a corporate environment

Colour has a definite psychological and emotional impact on us. Being aware of the emotional impact that the colours you wear will have on others is an important consideration and can affect the people with whom you are meeting. (This advice is most relevant for Europe and America).

Black/Navy/Grey. Navy and black are true "power" colours. Black is the colour of sophistication and power. However, whereas women can wear all black during the day, on a man, all black is best reserved for a black-tie affair unless it is broken up with a white or coloured shirt and tie. Dark colours tend to make a person appear thinner and taller. Wearing a dark skirt with matching trousers and shoes will make a short woman appear taller.

Grey is the colour of teamwork, agreement, and passivity. In a darker charcoal shade, grey is a true power colour. In a lighter shade, it becomes more relaxed. Grey is a good choice for people in sales, banking, or finance and it is ideal in combination with other colours to personalise according to colouring, scale and proportion. However, grey is not a colour to be worn on its own - it will make you look "robot like" ie lacking any own personality...



This is the most active and energetic colour and a powerful accent colour for men. It is the colour of the initiator; no wonder red foulard ties are considered "power" ties. For women, red is an excellent choice for jackets, blouses, and dresses but it is usually too strong in a suit.


This should always be paired with a business power colour such as navy, grey, or black. Light yellow can be a supporting/accent colour in white shirts or ties for men. Women should avoid solid yellow suits, however, used as an accent colour in shirts, scarves or as part of a pattern it can have an uplifting effect on outward appearance.


This is probably the universal favourite colour, worn well by men and women. Pretty much everyone looks good in blue - though it is important to find the right shade and tint, so that it is not draining on you. If it is too bright or dark, this can be overwhelming. Navy blue is a true power colour. Medium-tone blue becomes friendlier. Light blue is a weak colour in a suit, but again a very powerful colour element when worn as shirt or tie. Both men and women should reserve navy pinstripes for the most powerful look. Men should not use blue for accessories e.g. briefcase. Women should use navy for shoes and purses, but again, not for a briefcase.


Men should not wear light green for business. As a background colour in a patterned tie, green is acceptable. Women should wear bright green in small doses as it will have less serious impact on people. Lighter shades of green can look cheap and only a few women can pull off this colour when combined with a grey or brown outfit. Darker shades are generally acceptable when used to break up an outfit, rather than worn as a solid colour.


Either in a deep shade or softer shades of rose, pink is an excellent choice for women's blouses, dresses, or scarves. Men can wear pink in small doses; say in a solid, pinpoint, oxford cloth shirt or in stripes or checkers with a white shirt. Pink shirts should be reserved for less conservative or creative businesses when worn without ties or combined with elegant casualwear.


This is a colour more reserved for more elegant casual wear rather corporate power dressing. For men, although it gives a sophisticated but softer look , it's less sharp, so you might want to avoid it in business meetings,. However, it could be helpful at conferences or gatherings where you need to look approachable. It's acceptable for women to wear various shades of brown - it looks sophisticated, elegant and feminine.



Men should limit their use of purple to patterned ties and shirts. Women can select suits, dresses, or blouses in shades of mauve, violet, periwinkle, or purple, but ideally keep it to the top half.


White is an all year round colour when chosen for shirts and makes a great background colour when combined with coloured pattern in shirts – in this sense it is the power colour for shirts. Men should wear white shoes only for leisurewear. Generally white shouldn't be used for belts or purses because this can look cheap. Women can wear white suits during the day in the summer, but men should reserve theirs for times out of business hours.


This is especially elegant and powerful when teamed with grey. Men will find that burgundy ties offer the richest look with grey, navy, and tan suits.

Tan or khaki

This is the best colour for rainwear, especially for men. It can be worn by men in summer suits, which are more casual in appearance, but should not be part of a starter wardrobe and needs to be chosen with care, because it does not compliment all skin tones.

Using your best colours to emphasize your hair and eyes, to flatter your skin and figure, and to achieve a desired psychological effect will make the creation of your business and casual wardrobe a positive experience.

Colour articles

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