Color Me Professional

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I’m looking for work and want to be presentable when cold calling & interviewing but it’s hard in this heat to not wear something comfortable. What colors should I lean toward when I am going to an interview or cold calling (in person), etc?  I really appreciate your posts and you always have excellent advice.

Hi, Color Curious,         Woman in Grey Suit

Thanks for the question. Color choices say a lot about who you are right off the bat. It shows all sorts of emotions and personality traits and can even evoke feelings from the person with whom you’re interviewing or meeting. Research has shown that nonverbal communication accounts for 85% of communication exchanges between 2 or more people. Wouldn’t you want to make sure you are communicating the right vibe and professional language when searching for a job or participating in an important meeting? I would definitely hope so!

You want your color palette to be professional, clean, and not overbearing. I suggest sticking with a solid base color and accenting with brighter colors and patterns. Read on to find out which shades make the grade…

  • Navy Blue – This is the most popular color because it presents a sense of strength, dependability, friendliness,  and light-heartedness — all qualities that a hiring manager is looking for in a candidate. I suggest selecting this color for your suit or main outfit components.
  • Gray – The most popular color after navy blue is gray. Gray is the color of intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and expectancy. It provides a neutral canvas for you to wear a bright-colored tie or blouse underneath.
  • Black – Black is a great color to incorporate in your wardrobe for job interviews. It is very commanding of attention and suggests possibility and potential.  Interviewers may react to this color as sophistication and polish. It can be overpowering, sending messages of arrogance, so I would use this as an accent color or for a top or bottom, but not both.
  • Red, yellow, and orange – Steer clear of these three strong shades. These colors can be overwhelming and can overpower the senses. They evoke passion, romance, and emotional response — not the best thing for job interviews.

Man in Blue ShirtI only selected these colors as a guideline. Depending on the type of job that you are looking for or the company’s environment, you may want to branch out from this modest color selection. If you need more information or need advice, do your research! Visit the company’s website or even call the office and ask what is appropriate.

What are some of your winning color stories? Did you wear something out of the box that landed you the job? How about some clothing mishaps that you wish you could take back? We all know we have some…

For some more color tips, view this video!

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit

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Best Wishes,


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trisha Pautz
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 02:15:10

    when doing job interviews, you should always project great self-confidence.^

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  2. Bernard Quach
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 18:42:45

    when doing job interviews, you should always project great self-confidence.;

    Check out the most recent post on our own blog site



  3. dianna gear
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 05:38:32

    This is a story regarding colors to wear and not recommended to interviews. This was many years ago. I worked as a temp at P&G in Cincinnati. A candidate wore a red suit. They didn’t hire her. I guess they told her it was the red suit? She challenged their decision. She said P&G makes paper products in different colors. I guess she was saying not all employees come in the same color. She got her job.



  4. pravinchn
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 19:11:29

    Reblogged this on pravinchn.



  5. Cynthia Barker
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 13:37:47

    Where do I apply?




  6. David Binion
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 09:22:19

    blue/ red/green great colors



  7. James Allen
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 08:41:40

    Black clothing can also become very hot.



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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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