colour & design surgery…how can I wear this season’s colour blocking trend & still look professional?

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

Newsletter - 2011 July - colour blocking. This opens a new browser window.

This is part of the colour & design surgery series, answering questions from clients and readers.

Question: “I love this season’s fashion trend of colour blocking but am a little reluctant to wear it for business meetings as I want to be taken seriously and the colours are so bright! Do you have any tips on colour combinations to wear that portray a sense of fun while maintaining professionalism?”
– Alicia Cowan, Absolute PA

Answer: Bright, bold colour blocking is certainly everywhere. It resonates with our connection to lighter, brighter days filled with sunshine.

You’re spot on saying that this trend may not translate so well in the business environment as these bright colours evoke the feelings of fun and playfulness. Not entirely appropriate if you’re trying to close a business deal (except if it was for a business that was about fun!).

fun colours
Colours that portray a sense of fun, joy, happiness are yellow, orange, any colour with a high percentage of yellow.

colour proportions
Look at changing the colour proportions. Classic blocking is usually 50/50.  So look at reducing this to a percentage that you feel is acceptable for work.  Maybe 70 serious and 30 fun colour may work for you.

colour combinations
Some serious business colours are dark blue, dark green, dark red. Look at wearing their complimentary to create balance whilst still creating the colour impact you’re looking for.   For example blue with yellow, green with red.  There’s also grey, brown and black (black for Winter linked personalities).

There are many versions of a colour so make sure you choose a tone that resonates with you and your personality. Using yellow as an example, that might be a warm sunflower or butter yellow, a cold acid lemon or greyed yellow.

These aren’t colour blocking but if you feel it is not suitable in your line of business but you still want to wear fun colours consider wearing underwear in a colour that gives you your sense of fun.

Another way is to bring your fun colours in through accessories, that could be a scarf, bangles, hairclips, anything that you felt comfortable wearing as the proportion of colour would be a personal choice.

Then, when you’re stepping out for the evening colour block to your heart’s content!

I hope that gives you a few ideas of how to bring fun into your business day through colour.

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  1. Tamsin Fox-Davies on June 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I like the idea of wearing colour in a smaller proportion for business. More ‘colour splashing’ than colour blocking!

    • admin on June 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Oh I love the phrase ‘colour splashing’, that’s exactly what it is!

  2. Keren Lerner on June 30, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Great post – one for the fashion bloggers to reblog even. Thanks Karen! I have one colour blocking outfit already, and it’s definitely fun and impactful. Hopefully I will be brave, have “Moxie” and shop for more.

    • admin on June 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Bring out your inner ‘Moxie’ and have fun!!

  3. Felicity Lerouge on June 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Very interesting blog. It is essential to be taken seriously in business and, of course, our dress is taken as an indication of our gravitas. Have you considered collaborating with stylists?

    • admin on June 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm

      Absolutely! Every time you select a colour to wear you are making a statement of how you are feeling and how you want others to interact with you.

      I would love to collaborate with stylists!

  4. Alicia Cowan on July 1, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for answering my question here on your blog, Karen.

    I love the idea of changing the colour proportions and I’ll be trying this at my next event. My business is fun so I can get away with a splash of bright colour but maybe not a whole outfit!

    • admin on July 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

      You’re welcome Alicia.

      Trends are all about adapting to suit your needs,so for you it’s about splashing instead of blocking!

  5. Michelle Weir on July 15, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Karen, I really loved your responses to this great question. I enjoy wearing colour but something not sure where the line is when mixing them (especially coming from a corporate city where black is the norm!). Thanks for sharing!

    • admin on July 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Michelle,
      It can be a bit tricky for us who were once or are still in the corporate life when the colour palette consists of black, grey and white – being one of the crowd and not drawing attention to ourselves. Have fun bringing colour into your daily life!

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