Think for a moment about the outfit you are going to wear for your next celebratory or festive event. I wonder how many of us instantly think of wearing our trusted LBD (little black dress) with some nice accessories? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, in this article, I would like to discuss and highlight the less conservative option of ‘non-black’ clothes. As a professional image consultant and Style Coach™, I think of it as an invitation to make the leap from dressing with ‘predictability and safety’ at your next event, to dressing with ‘style and sparkle’!
First of all, and strictly speaking, *black* is not a ‘colour’. Instead, it absorbs all other colours! So, why is *black* such a popular choice? Why do we like it so much? I love considering these questions when I am doing professional colour analysis with my clients, and if you’ve ever considered becoming a colour consultant yourself, then you will share my enthusiasm!
The most obvious answer is because it’s a comfortable and safe choice. It transmits a feeling of protection and strength. Many would also argue that it is mysterious. Colour psychology is just fascinating. We all use *black* at various times of our lives: when experiencing mourning, when we want to ‘blend in’ due to low self-esteem or body-image issues, when we want to appear slimmer due to discontent about our body shape or weight, or when we want to feel secure in our wardrobe choices so we don’t ‘get it wrong’. Fashion tells us that black is slimming, seductive, formal, elegant and sophisticated. There are a lot of studies about the psychology of ‘black’, but the main question here is to ask ourselves, “Instead of black, why not bring our outfits to life with vibrant use of colour?” In Style Coaching™, we combine life coaching skills, which helps me to explore how my client ‘feels’ when wearing different colours, and trying different styles - not just how my client ‘looks.
Fashion historians and fashion courses trace the iconic origins of the little black dress to the 1920s designs of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. They were intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral colour. The little black dress is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers. But do we believe we’re radiant wearing black? Is it really flattering us and enhancing our image as much as we would like it to?
Wearing black is certainly functional and turns complex choices into easy ones when you don’t know what to wear to a festive event. When wearing black, you always have the assurance and self-confidence that you will be dressed appropriately. But is black properly translating the state or mood we are in when we attend parties? And, if you are a self-confessed lover of ‘black’, would your opinion change if a colour consultant gave you alternative colour suggestions? This is where, in my opinion, the journey of discovering your style really starts.
During the Style Coach™ training we learned about colour psychology in addition to the colour analysis. Understanding our ‘true’ or ‘wow’ colours can be powerful, as they affect us positively and in profound ways. The colours we wear can be used to create harmony with our own natural colouring, and they essentially become another part of us. One of my friends (and fellow Style Coaches™) recently shared with me that she had clients idealizing black, but it was actually not suiting their skin tone and was stealing their shine. Perhaps this is more common than we realise.
When we choose black during personal shopping trips, are we in fact denying ourselves the opportunity to look for an outfit which will make us look and feel outstanding? Are we missing out on a chance to try something that is outside our comfort zones and a touch different to what we’re used to? Style Coaching™ combines elements of personal branding, so we’re constantly looking for ways to showcase our unique personality and every other factor that becomes a person’s ‘personal brand’.
Imagine yourself walking into the department stores at the start of the festive season, with your personal shopper, when the mannequins are wearing party outfits… What outfits on the mannequins really inspire you? When something catches your eye, what shine is it transmitting to have grabbed your attention?
The aim is to search for something to wear which will not only enhance our silhouette, but which also communicates our own energy, personality and vibrancy. So many of our attributes can be communicated, enhanced and highlighted with our colour choices. Personal styling is about having fun with fashion and creatively expressing yourself, but don’t worry about looking overdressed; instead focus on choosing the right fabric, the right shape, the right length and the right colour. For many of my personal styling clients, wearing a vibrant colour choice can feel like a big transition, in which case, a black outfit can be transformed with even a touch of colour that suits you.
I hope you enjoy choosing your next outfit and that you’re feeling inspired to find a Xmas party dress that will help you feel great during your celebratory occasions!
– Written by Jeannine Courvoisier for the Style Coaching Institute
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