Can Wearing Color Hurt Your Career?

Posted August 20, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Building Your Brand

Even before she left The Today Show, Ann Curry told The Ladies Home Journal she believed her bosses at NBC were not fond of her wardrobe choices. It’s clear to see in the photo above that Ann is a fan of loud fabrics and colors, and daring silhouettes. She’s colorful, she’s fun….but does that make her a bad anchor according to NBC? Maybe. A recent article on The Grindstone explored the question more deeply as it relates specifically to Ann curry in “Is the ‘Ann Curry Problem’ Happening to Women Everywhere?” In the article, a surprising notion came to light:

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that pink and red are the least preferred choice (1% or less) for CEOs. The presumption is that these colors are too girly and are not taken as seriously as the corporate world’s favorite colors, the always exciting navy blue and black (navy blue was the top choice at 36% amongst CEOs, with black falling behind at 26%.)

So the question, then, becomes this: did Ann Curry’s colorful wardrobe make her seem less professional, less trustworthy, less desirable to audiences or her bosses? And if so, what does that say for the rest of us? If we wear pink to a job interview, are we doing to get edged out by someone in the navy blue power suit? Perhaps.

How, then, can we effectively balance fashion-forward or preference to color in our daily wardrobes without losing credibilty? A few tips:

  • For first-time meetings, go conservative. Especially if it’s a job interview situation, or the first time meeting a high level individual, leave the bright colors or loud prints at home.
  • Layering/effective pairing is everything. Go ahead, wear bright orange. But pair it with a simple shoe, simpler accessories, or a jacket that calms the print or bright color overall. Pairing brights with neutrals will help you to make a more complete outfit.
  • Take Coco Chanel’s advice. To avoid over accessorizing or overdoing your outfit, take the famed advice from Coco Chanel – take one thing off before you leave the house.
  • Save it for your personal life. If you love pink, and it’s your signature color, there’s no law that says you can’t wear it to work. You can. But if you love wearing it head to toe, perhaps save it for Saturdays. Deck yourself out in your favorite colors at the gym and at dinner with your friends. But tone it down for the office.

What do you think? Should you tone it down for the office? Or light it up and risk being judged?

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."