Saturday, 27 June 2015

Back to black... Clothes, that is!

I lasted more than a month!

In my last blog ( I talked about the challenge I'd set myself to #wearnoblack. And I did it. Even at a professionals 'black tie' event. For over a month. Both at play and (often more of a challenges) at work.

This week, I went back to wearing black - deliberately and consciously. And it had to be, because I realised that I'd created a new habit*. The habit of NOT wearing back.

It felt odd. I wore black trousers, a white top, royal blue shoes and a black, white, blue patterned jacket. An outfit that I'd often worn on auto-pilot before. It fit the workwear formula: wear a black dress, skirt or trousers and work around that.

Denise Sanderson-Estcourt, FCIPD
The jacket - worn with a white top and black trews!

So I went to work and for the first time in a month not one person mentioned my outfit. Not one! I didn't miss the comments through vanity but honestly... Work genuinely seemed quieter, and the weather was a bit miserable! I'd spent the whole month wearing colour, enjoyed the challenge, and felt bright. The bonus was that it triggered so many conversations starting with comments like:
  • You really know how to put colours together
  • You always look (insert something flattering!) in colour
  • Your colour combinations always cheer me up
  • What colours should I wear to make me look so vibrant?

All the comments/questions reinforced that colour can really create a positive mood, and done in an appropriate way (eg for your personal colouring and environment), colour can be the starter of a great conversation - because we don't always see too much colour in corporate environments.

The following day to complete the experiment, I wore two bright but complimentary colours and no black again. My boss queried what was up that I'd worn black the day before, a colleague said she'd didn't think I'd smiled as much as 'normal' and our College librarian said - you looked like a CEO-in-waiting yesterday (and whilst diplomatic she didn't seem to mean it in a good way, no offence to CEO's!)

Now, I get that for some people that's what they're going for. The blend-in look or the I'm corporate look. And that's fine. But, consider this...

In colour I still looked professional. (There was still a formula eg jacket, heels, appropriate length attire). And, here's the real thing - I also brought a little life to my look and managed to cheer people up at a time when happiness/wellbeing at work is high on the agenda.

Madeleine Albright rose in colour!

Going forward, I will wear black. And colour. But I will be really conscious of when. And mindful of why.

So, I ask you again - how long could you go without wearing black?
And I challenge you - If black is an auto-pilot staple for you, try going without wearing it for a while and let me know how you get on!

Have a bright weekend!
Denise x

PS - *They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

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