personal branding – what statement are you making wearing red & black?
Following on from the business branding article I wrote about Louboutin seeing red over YSL, I thought I would look at his black shoes with the signature red soles and the feeling that combination of colours evokes in men and women.
Christian Louboutin comments “The shiny red colour has no function other than to identify to the public that they are mine.” But look a little bit deeper and there’s a whole lot more going on…
The colour red always evokes a physical reaction. It’s the male energy colour, representing stamina, lust, power. It’s also an attention grabbing colour (think stop signs and traffic lights). The positive qualities of black are sophistication, glamour, an air of mystery, the unknown. Black adds gravitas, authority.
Combine those two colours together and you get seduction, look at me, the woman feels in control and powerful. Interestingly, in nature red and black is a warning signal to stay away, ‘don’t mess with me’ (think red back spider, red belly black snake).
So who best to test this out on than a woman who owns not one but two pairs of black Louboutin’s. Tanya Rennick, founder of The Oyster Club, sums this up beautifully as to why she loves wearing her black Louboutin’s “On a date, I always feel sexy in my Louboutin heels and just a little bit naughty.”
Yet when in a business meeting “I feel quite powerful, in reassuringly well made shoes. The soles are a status symbol … Sometimes it’s good to be defined in that way when meeting people for the first time.”
This shows how the psychological qualities of those colours play out in different situations.
When asked what reaction she receives from men, Tanya replied “Men think they [the shoes] are sexy. Most sophisticated men know those signature soles.”
When it comes to women, Tanya feels the reaction she gets is different “It depends on the women. Often it makes women tell you about their own favourite shoes. Some purr with admiration, some shoot out sideways looks of envy and some pretend not to notice. But of course, they do.” Each colour has positive and negative psychological qualities. Envy, coveting, jealously which are being displayed here, are all negative qualities of red.
No surprise that Tanya feels “sensible in my black shoes (albeit vertiginous heeled) but I’m a woman. And a sexy one, at that.” That will be the black, adding the feelings of gravitas, seriousness.
What is happening here is the language of colour, communicating directly with our feelings and emotions. This article is about colour on a pair of shoes but it’s no different to wearing clothes in these colours.
Our colour choices are only 20% conscious. Nevertheless, 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.
For Winter linked personalities black represents sophistication, glamour, emotional safety. For the other personality types when wearing black, what they are effectively doing is putting up a protective barrier for others to keep their distance, to stay away. It can also be seen as powerful but in a menacing way.
Thinking about what red and black means to you, why are you drawn to wearing this colour combination? What are you feeling or wanting to feel?
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