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Fashion: Fifty Shades of You

Wearing the right colours can change your life – if you dress mindfully, says Emmeline Stevens, stylist and founder of The Image Consulting Company

Clothes are about so much more than what you look like – it’s been scientifically proven that what you wear and the colours you choose can have a huge impact on how you feel inside too. A lot of people think a personal stylist’s job is to make you look good – and it is – but most of the new clients I see come to me because they are lacking in confidence. They don’t feel good in what they wear, and that’s a slightly different issue.

To create a look they’re going to be happy with, we have to start from the inside, find out what makes them light up, and work our way out. I call it ‘mindful dressing’, and essentially what it means is taking a little time to think about how what you wear is making you feel, and how you can use your wardrobe to change that for the better.

You are what you wear

Psychology researcher Adam Galinski was the first to coin to the term ‘enclothed cognition’ to describe the influence that clothes have on our psychological processes. His study found that people wearing lab coats experienced increased mental agility. The act of putting on the white coat effectively primed their brains to take on the sharper mental capacities they associated with being a doctor. In other words, you can become what you wear.

So, the first question you need to answer when you’re dressing yourself in the morning is ‘who do I want to be today?’ You might be a busy mum or a high-flying professional (or both) but how do you want to feel while you’re doing that? It’s so easy just to pull on the same old pair of jeans or that trusty work suit, but if they don’t inspire you to feel and do better, it could be having more of an effect on your day-to-day life than you realise.

Choose your weapons

The right colour not only sets you up in the right frame of mind for the day, but it can also convey powerful subliminal messages to others about how you want to want to be perceived. Here are some colours you may want to consider…

Red is an intense and dominant colour that symbolises passion and sensuality but also aggression. Studies have shown that red contributes to romantic attraction, so it follows that it’s a good colour to wear on a date or if you want to draw someone’s attention, since it creates a chemical reaction in the brain.

Orange is a colour of stimulation and enthusiasm, mixing the passion of red and the joy of yellow. Research has found that orange actually increases oxygen supply to the brain, producing an energising effect and stimulating brain activity – making it a good colour to wear to the gym or anywhere you need to exert yourself.

Blue promotes tranquillity and calm and studies have shown that it can also enhance creativity. It’s a good colour to wear if you want to persuade or influence people at work, as blue is widely perceived as stable and trustworthy.

Green, meanwhile, is symbolic of nature and said to have a soothing effect. It’s the ideal hue to wear if you want to create a sense of calm, or if you want to feel refreshed.

Pink has been connected with hope and comfort in many tests. It’s a colour of nurturing and calm, making it a good colour to wear if you want to build relationships with people. Black and other dark colours, on the other hand, are traditionally perceived as more formal and dominant and, if worn head-to-toe, can carry a connotation of aggression. Contrasting with a light colour like white, however, can create an image of power and competence, which is why a black suit and white shirt is a popular choice for job interviews. Clearly, the effectiveness of this depends on the job you’re applying for. If it’s a role that’s more about dealing with people and having empathy, then a friendlier colour might better convey that.

Evolution not revolution

While shaking up your wardrobe and trying out new colours is generally a positive thing, it’s important that you wear the clothes and not the other way round. By that I mean choosing items that still feel like ‘you’, and not just following trends. If you’ve only ever worn black up until now, suddenly throwing on different colours from head to toe may not feel natural to you and, no matter what the soothing properties of the colour are, you may not feel comfortable. However, adding a colourful scarf, or bag to your usual outfit might be a subtle way of progressing your look and still giving you the boost you need.

We all lead busy lives, but investing a little time in creating a look that makes you feel good from the inside out can pay off in all sorts of ways.

Would you like to add some colour to your life or even your career? You could become a personal stylist with The Image Consulting Company. Get to know Emmeline and her team from 4 – 8 April at Bristol Fashion Week at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway with a free mini consultation, or visit theimageconsultingcompany.co.uk to find out more.