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Perceptions of the colours you wear


By Macilyne Chenayi Chitepo

CHANCES are that if you look into your closet, your wardrobe follows a colour scheme.

Whether it is intentional or not, most people tend to gravitate toward certain colours when shopping. Some may like the simplicity of a wardrobe filled with basic black, while others prefer shades that complement their skin tone or eyes.

Do we just wear what we want anywhere? Or each industry or each corporate organisation has its own culture and dress code?

But did you ever think how the colours you wear are perceived by other people. Colour plays a major role in our lives by the way it influences our moods and emotions. You would not think that a colour can make you feel secure or make you feel un-easy, but it can.

When you choose to use a colour or avoid it, that action can reveal much about your personality. I will be discussing one of the most controversial and debated subject across the continent.

I will discuss corporate, executive colours and also show you how to make affordable work wear look well. The fact that I write for a business and financial newspaper I am going to tackle it from that angle.

What are the appropriate colours for the corporate world putting into consideration the world is full of conservative group of people who are still holding to their traditional values? On the other hand, we have the liberals who are open minded and will break the rules just to look good.

Fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah say you might not think they suit a certain colour, but there will always be a shade that will suit you.

“Do not be limited and only wear colour with black; open up your imagination and wear colour with colour.”

I have also recently joined a group on Facebook of women whose theme this year is “2020 – The year of Looking Unapologetically good” thus we all agree at the end of the day we all need to look good but keeping in mind what is expected from us by our employer, different organisation and to the ‘Classy Boss Lady’ and all entrepreneurs who are not obliged to stick to certain colours.

Know your Industry

Do we just wear what we want anywhere? Or each industry or each corporate organisation has its own culture and dress code? It is crucial for everyone to know what is expected from thier industry. People who understand colours look more interesting, more in control, more confident, more self-assured and more attractive. Colour(s) has the power to make you look healthy or unhealthy, thin or fat, short or tall.

Two weeks ago there was a collage of newly appointed magistrates and oh my God I just got so mesmerised going through all their photos. Anne Nhira that was a good job up to now I still cannot get over it. I did not see red, yellow or any bright colours thus for sure this group of newly appointed magistrates really know their dress code.

Yes there are some liberal young magistrates who can argue that nothing will stop them from wearing yellow or green to the court. I remember very well when I joined a certain bank the HR practise was not liberal until we rebranded and this is when the rules changed and people struggled to get used to the new HR policy which only allowed black, brown, grey, blue. It took employees ages to adapt to the new HR policy because we were used to all sorts of colours. The new HR policy was so confusing such that most employees went into denial due to the new policy. Below are some of the colours I consider professional and ideal for executives.


One can never go wrong with a white shirt for men and for ladies a white blouse. Victoria Beckham goes on to say, “If in doubt, anything looks good with a white shirt. White symbolises purity and innocence, once you have found your white go out to play around with all the colours that are in line with your corporate HR policy.


Grey is the colour of memories whilst some add that it has the ability that no other colour has, to make the invisible visible. Gray is the colour of intellect knowledge and wisdom. It is perceived as classic, refined, dignified and conservative we actually realised that it was one of the most sophisticated colours to wear.


Blue is the colour of the sky and sea, most people associate blue with stability and depth thus symbolising truth, faith, intelligence, confidence, wisdom, loyalty and trust. Whilst on the other hand the liberal consider it to be a boring colour but you can never go wrong with a dark blue suit or dress in the wardrobe.


As with grey, a lot of women won’t wear brown because it was the colour of their school uniform. If the truth can be told there is beautiful brown for nearly everyone. Trinny and Susanna goes on to say “When you think of brown don’t think detention think cappuccino, chocolate, camel, sand, biscuit and sable.


Most fashionista believe that wearing black is a lifestyle whilst most fashion mongers shopping rule is “if its note black put it back”. Black is a colour of power and strength, black makes everything more elegant or classy. I have also noted that women who wear black lead colourful lives. I laughed when I read in a certain article that black is the most abused and misused colour and some people strongly feel it should be reserved for high occasions and funerals. As a lifestyle writer I strongly feel that for women a little black dress is a must have in every women’s wardrobe (just as well this is our next topic next week.)

What if I work for a liberal organisation?

In fact, it is not every corporate which insist on conservative colours i.e. I work for the Media Industry and we are quite liberal but that does not mean we do not have days that we need to tone down. Imagine launching a new product and you go wearing like a rainbow. Last week I learnt a lesson from Zimra Commissioner General Faith Mazani and her executive assistant. The two came to an event hosted by The Financial Gazette wearing the newspaper’s corporate colours as a way of supporting us and I felt so humbled and at the same time learnt a lesson.

It must be noted that if you have been invited for a function why not wear the host corporate colours as a way of showing your support.

After everything has been said and done it is essential to first study your organisational culture so that you know what corporate colours to wear because organisational cultures differ in colours some are liberal enough to attract attention, some subtle enough that they are barely noticeable.