It’s often assumed that Introverts are more likely to wear black (and darker neutrals) as they want to hide away from the world, being the owls and doves of the world. Whilst Extraverts wear bright colours, as the the peacocks and parrots who make more noise, as they desire to be the centre of attention and are naturally showier. Yet, I know from my experience as an image consultant that this is not necessarily true (and in fact, there are some great reasons why the reverse may be the case).
Colour and Contrast – How are They Perceived
Bright colours draw attention as does a high contrast colour combination in your ensemble – it makes you more noticeable, more obvious and less likely to be overlooked.
More muted colours and lower contrast are more naturally receding and make you less noticeable and more able to blend-in.
Warm overtone colours (think reds, pinks, yellows, oranges – colours we associate with hot things like fire and the sun) grab attention and advance visually.
Cool overtone colours (blues, greens, violets) are a little more receding and tend to visually move backwards and are not as noticeable (unless they are the bright versions of these colours and then they have an advancing quality).
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Why Extraverts May Want to Wear Neutrals
Extraverts are often seen as the peacocks or parrots, with their beautiful coloured plumage that grabs attention and says “look at me”.
Yet we know from our research in to the 16 Style Types, and I know from experience as a professional image consultant, that some Extraverts have realized that their personality presents as exceedingly confident and that they may sometimes be experienced by others as intimidating (in our research, we had ENTJs, ENTPs and ENFPs tell us they are aware of coming across as overpowering at times, even if that is not their intention). For women in this situation, they have often learned they need to balance their preference for Extraversion with more receding colours (neutrals and the cool overtone colours or a lower contrast) so that they don’t appear to take over.
Whilst some Extraverts, such as ESTJs, they will choose not to wear colour, particularly in a corporate environment, because they don’t perceive it as appropriate for the dress code with traditional corporate wear tending to the more neutral end of the colour scale (think black, grey, navy, beige, tan and white).
“I’m happiest in my clothes when my clothes are appropriate for the situation and ‘balanced’. I can stand out for some things but if I’m inappropriately dressed I want a hole to open up in the ground and fall through it as I always want to be appropriately dressed”. — ESTJ
Why Extraverts May Want to Wear Colour
Yet some extraverts will need to wear colour so their outer appearance is in tune with the essence of who they are.
“I feel worst in my clothes when what I’m wearing isn’t vibrant in colour as I don’t want to go somewhere and blend in”. — ENFP
Getting the balance right is important, and an individual pursuit. You need to balance the colours you wear with your personality as well as your physical appearance (and if you want tips on doing this, head over to Inside Out Style to find out all about wearing colour).
Why Introverts May Want to Wear Colours
Many introverts want to disappear at times. Speaking as one (I have preferences for INTJ), I know there are times when I’m out and about that I don’t want to have to engage with everyone, as I find it very draining, so wearing something more neutral will make me less noticeable. But I’ve also discovered that if I just dress in head to toe black, I’m seen as intimidating, egotistical, unfriendly and a snob. I’ve learned that wearing some colour really helps me to have better interactions with those around me.
If you have a preference for Introversion, you may be aware that your energy is precious, that it is a finite resource, and so you can use the warmer overtone colours (in particular) or the brighter cool overtone colours to do some of that energy work for you. Because warmer and brighter colours grab attention, when you need to be seen, when you need to be heard, then use colour to do this so that you can conserve that precious energy.
I’ve discovered working with many clients over time that in particular, INTJs, INTPs, ISTJs, and ISTPs find this a useful strategy to use, particularly in social situations (where they don’t know many people) or in work environments and meetings where they need to ensure that their opinions are heard.
You can let colour do some of the heavy lifting or energy work for you – so that you can focus on what really matters, not demanding attention as well.
“When everyone around me is wearing black or black and white, why would I want to conform and be the same? I want to be different, a little edgy, I wear colour”. — ISFP
A Word on Black
Even though black is dark and receding, psychologically black is seen as powerful, ominous, threatening and far from friendly. Yes wearing black may make you disappear (particularly if you live in one of those large metropolitan cities – think London, New York, Melbourne) where black is worn by the majority of the population, but it may also have some negative effects depending on what you want to communicate.
So before you put on that black suit or little black dress, think about what you want to communicate. If you prefer Introversion and this Introverted nature causes some people to experience you as unapproachable, adding black into the mix can say “stay away from me”. Now sometimes this might be good, but other time’s it’s the opposite of what you want to achieve. Before you get dressed, think about how you want your interactions to be. Do you want to be seen as friendly and approachable? If so, then stay away from the black (find out more about colours communicating here in another video post with Jill and Imogen).
Get more tips on the psychology of colour and how different colours communicate here.
Discover Your Style Type
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