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What's your favorite color?

What's your favorite color?

This is a question the rock-band Living Colour (not the Keenan Ivory Wayans comedic show from the early 1990's) asks on their debut album. Part of their lyrics pose the question is it red all the way to black, along with a contemporary spin on the mindset behind each one.

In this same mindset, someone may ask that question today. However, it's more than just what is your preference. When it comes to business, there's a need for understanding the "psychology" behind colors and attire, and it's more wide-ranging than what people realize.

An interview, meeting, or seminar is usually going to call for a certain kind of attire. Let's work with the understanding that business attire is what is required. Many may understand that for men, a business suit (2 or 3 piece), a shirt, a tie, and lace-up shoes are essential, and for women, the equivalent (i.e. a blazer, blouse, skirt, business-sized 3 inch heels, and other related items) is what is standard.

However, in our attempts to add some flair or "flavor", we have to remember the concepts that may be attached to certain color schemes, not only from a Western mindset, but that of other cultures.

Blue may be the "safest" color to wear for an interview. A number of the associations (Western) range from being conservative, corporate, and masculine, these may be a few of the subconscious attachments one may want to have when they walk into the room. However, depending on other cultures (Korea), it is the color of mourning.

Get it? If the answer is somewhat, then don't feel bad as we sometimes don't get it either.

In our society, in general, wearing blue or grey for an interview can be a good thing (as your primary color for your suit or something related), as the associations with them in general display professionalism. Mixing in some alternative color can be a good thing, but it's a matter of finding balance and not overdoing it. Likewise, while a powerful color, wearing black may be a little too powerful. When a color is associated with funerals, death, or intimidation (where for other cultures, it actually means prosperity), that may not be the message you want to communicate to others.

As with anything, you need to make sure to understand your audience and setting. A balance of playing it safe with a subtle flair for the corporate setting usually should put you in a position when you walk into the room, you are displaying a message of confidence, creativity, yet not going over the top. At times, people go for too much style and not enough substance, and the last thing we want anyone to experience is having any diminishing of your credibility before you walk into the room.

What's your favorite color? It depends on where you are, who you are speaking with, and the message you want to send. Hopefully it's about putting your best foot forward and having a presence that is professional, powerful, and positive.

NOTE: An accessible resource for a breakdown on the color schemes and their cultural meanings is from

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