Tips on ensuring a good match even for the colorblind.
by Rita Gworek
It’s one thing to know enough to wear a conservative navy or black suit with white shirt and simple tie to the interview, but what if you get hired? Hopefully, endless days of color coordinated clothing follow. If you are a little bit or a lot color blind, or even color ignorant, that presents a problem that can cause problems with co-workers and even the boss. Just like the term “business casual,” different colors can mean different things to different people. It can also affect the people around you.
Following are some suggestions to resolve the issue. They may seem a bit involved at times, but remember, you always have the option of going back to shades of gray. Or marrying somebody who isn’t color disadvantaged.
Color influences our lives in many ways. Color has a high psychological impact. Color can make us feel warm or cool; it can make us agitated or calm. It can make us appear creative or classic. It can give us strength or softness. Not only does color make us feel or look a certain way, it also influences those around us. It is important to understand this because you can use it to your advantage or it can go against you if you don’t understand
I have been certified in four different systems of color analysis. Each organization has its own theory on color. So which one is right? I have come to understand that each person sees color differently from someone else. Someone may see more blue in a color or more brown or more white, and yet not be color blind. The colors are hard to define. There are millions of shades and tones of the basic primary colors.
And, many people are color blind. That means they do not see red and green as most people see them. Both colors come out looking more like browns or grays. This makes selecting and matching clothing difficult. Since color has such a big influence on others, it is advisable for color blind people to enlist help when selecting clothing or putting together an outfit.
On the receiving end, if you have color blindness, you are not influenced as much as by reds and greens as someone who sees the full spectrum of color correctly. An example would be a social event where you walked into a room wearing a bright red top. You would definitely be noticed by most of the people there, but you may not get the attention of someone who is color blind.
A problem that may arise for the color blind problem is more likely if they are wearing the bright red top. You might then draw undue attention and not understand why this is happening. If you are shy, such attention may make you uncomfortable.
How can a color blind person get around the problem? I would suggest a few things. One would be to have your colors done by a color analyst. Such an analysis usually gives you a palette of colors that work best on you. The analysis should also give you a range of colors broken down into your suits, sport coats, dress shirts, casual shirts, trousers, and tie colors. Once you have this tool you can take it shopping with you to show to the sales person and ask them to show you clothing in these colors for those items you intend to purchase.
Once you bring the clothing home, you will need to enlist someone’s help to put the clothing items in a color sequence. By this I mean put your suits in the closet in order of blues and grays. Then put the shirts and ties next to the suits they go with. It is best in this instance to put the clothing together in the closet the way you will wear them. Most often a closet is put together by hanging all the shirts together, all the trousers together and all the suits together etc.
For the color blind person, I believe it is best to put their clothing together in the way it will be worn with the suit, shirt, and tie hanging together and not separated. Your socks should be put in a drawer separated into colors. Use note cards to indicate the colors and what they go with.
Quite often I categorize clothing by the use of “Garanimals”. If you have children you probably know what that means. It is the name of a clothing manufacturer who puts in the label, this “tiger shirt” goes with this “tiger pant.”
The adult version of this is numbering your clothing with a permanent marker. First, have all your clothing numbered. Then have a chart made up that says shirt #1 goes with suits #20 and #14. Sport coat #4 goes with shirt # 6 and #8 and trouser #17 and #19. Tie #10, #12, and #16 goes with suit #2, etc.
The next problem I see is when the clothing comes back from the dry cleaner or laundry. If you have not numbered the clothing you will run into trouble of trying to match them up again. So it is important to use a permanent laundry marking pen to number the clothing from the chart you have had done for you.
I even dream in color so it is hard for me to imagine not seeing all the shades and tones of color. But then again, I am deficient about anything mechanical. So I am happy when someone helps me out in that area.