Wearing Black is Not an Automatic Ticket to Powerful Presence

Why do our clothing choices automatically default to the ‘colour’ black?

It’s not just that I personally dislike it as a clothing choice, what annoys me enough to write this little rant is,  the myths that surround it. Myths that disempower and de-individualise people. Research suggests people believe that by wearing black, they look powerful and generally ‘better’! As in ‘more’. This factor influences judgement, which is why many will ‘err on the side of caution’ and throw on the black just in case.…. Do you want to be seen as powerful, credible, sexy, slim, sophisticated, business-like, intelligent? Gotta wear more black. Its automatic, like wearing a uniform.

Black as a clothing choice is unimaginative, boring and – for many people – it clashes with your natural tone and deadens your natural glow. I’m referring to your own natural light, that comes from your eyes, skin, hair and the tone of your voice. These are very subtle yet strong inputs that others receive, mostly at an unconscious level. In human interaction, when these inputs are not congruent, something feels amiss. The light that others actually want and need to see and feel, in order to feel safe with you and develop trust is YOUR natural radiance, as a whole, in harmony with itself. And the other person also needs to feel fully seen by you.

Doing business, making friends, giving and receiving….

all human exchanges of positive intent require the currency of authenticity and trust.

How can real connection happen when we are all wearing masks?

Do you really want to be more universally appropriate or would you prefer to engage in real connection,m unmasked, with easier rapport? Think about it. We know that the first 30 seconds create that all-important first impression. Would you rather be credible or approachable? If your approachability and what you are saying emerges from you powerfully, who needs the “safe” version of credible?

Black goes with everything – but does it go with you?

Yes is does go with many things. It is a great background colour for sparkling jewels. It can be useful as edging to provide a contrast and make things stand out. And on some people – those with strong features and high contrast in their natural colouring, it can look stunning. Try on two identical garments that sit well on you, one black and the other in a colour that matches or is complementary to your eye and skin colour. Without makeup, truly, which makes you look warmer, brighter, more radiant?

When you are not confident in your own styling, and you don’t have much time – or money available, it is comforting to slip another black item into your collection – believing what the retailers assure you, that black ‘goes with everything’. Don’t give your power away to them. (Have you also noticed it ‘goes with lots of other things you don’t want? Particles such as lint, dandruff, biscuit crumbs, hair, dropped food – yes it can tell the story of your day!)

Black clothes stand out more than you do – it is why they use it so much in fashion. They are selling the clothes, not the model. Because black absorbs light, you lose you natural complimentary glow and so it forces you to madly accessorise with colour by adding colour to your hair, using heavier makeup, more jewelry to balance out the heaviness of it. Again this works in the fashion industry’s favour. You buy more items to complete your ‘look’.

You have the power to choose

Many of our choices about black (and its implications) are either misguided or made at the unconscious level and connect into our self-esteem and our notions of identity. We are brainwashed about black, and it’s these ‘little hinges that swing big doors’ at great expense.

I have no problem with women and men adorning themselves in whatever way they please – provided it is a free and conscious choice, and not because you are programmed to think it will make you ‘more’. If we constantly seek more, to be more acceptable, desirable or worthy – the use of a costume that is difficult and costly to carry off ultimately lowers your self-esteem even further, in a myriad of ways.

Find your true colours:

Look though your wardrobe, clothes scarves, accessories and your home, furnishings, etc. Find some coloured pieces that you love, which uplift your spirits, which people generally compliment you on. Take them, along with a black item, to a place where you can put a mirror and have some natural light. Now hold each colour to your face and notice which ones make you look healthier, brighter more alive. Chances are, for many people there will be a range of colours that do this and black won’t be in there, unless you are one of the high-contrast types I mentioned earlier, in which case it will look great on you.

When you are wearing your true complimentary colours, you will feel happier, more confident, and there will be a harmony and radiance coming from you.

Wearing your own true colours will amplify your presence, your individuality. You will feel and be more congruent, more confident. You can be creative without having to try hard to ‘get the look’. And you will stop wasting money on outfits that you will hardly wear.

Find an image consultant or personal shopper who is aware of natural colour and not wanting to make you a fashionista. If you have discovered that black is not your colour, be assertive and refuse to accept any black garments even to ‘try on’. Ask for different fabrics. It’s time to step into our power and make retailers aware of what we want.

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High impact conversations that transform people and companies. Sue loves working with leaders on a mission, to untap their full potential. Her specialties include entrepreneurship, leadership, integration, transformation, and growth.


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