Here’s a fun question for today: which colors do you usually buy for clothes for work? Do you buy different colors for the weekend you? What colors do you think you don’t look good in/do look good in? What color combinations do you find yourself wearing a lot? Do you think there are best colors to wear to work? (For example, here’s a whole Business Insider article about color psychology, suggesting that gray is unacceptable because it’s “too passive,” which kind of makes me laugh when I think about all the fabulous gray suits and trousers we’ve featured over the years!)
I was thinking about the my own color preferences for workwear while shopping at the Carlisle outlet last week — the brand was new to me until I saw that a reader had mentioned the outlet in our NYC shopping post. While perusing the store, I sort of felt like I was in Texas or somewhere, well, not New York — there were lots of light colors, floral patterns, and numerous colorful dresses and pants that I kept thinking, ah, that would be so cute if only it were black or navy. (I was also thinking a lot about our older discussion on whether colorful suits are primarily for older women!)
Hunting for colorful sheath dresses for work? As of 2023, your best bets include some of the brands featured above: 1) green* 2) purple 3) blue* 4) purple 5) red* 6) cornflower (*s come in regular & plus sizes)… also (not pictured) this dress with an asymmetrical neckline*, this 1950s-inspired belted dress*, and this sleeved scuba dress!
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For my own $.02, as I get older I recognize that navy looks better on me than black — but I still primarily buy and wear black clothes! For a while I even tried a capsule wardrobe with jewel tones like red, purple, and royal blue … and the purple and red stuff went almost entirely unworn. As for navy and dark blue — although I’m not opposed to wearing black with navy, I really don’t like navy with dark rinse denim.
Psst: stay tuned for a roundup of our recent favorites for colorful, statement heels and flats!
For some reason colorful bottoms and jackets get a lot more wear than sweaters, blouses, and tops — perhaps because I can throw a black or navy top on and a simple necklace and feel like I’ve got an outfit, whereas with a colorful top it feels like I need to add a second color to the mix. (I know I’ve posted about this before but can’t find it — in general I try to follow the rule to “wear color with color” because color+black looks a bit too stark and always, to me at least, feels like a lazy outfit — but that’s me.
Psst: we’ve discussed what to wear with a black dress in the past, as well as discussed if there are any “color rules” regarding suits.
How about you, ladies — which colors do you wear to work? When you’re buying clothes for the office do you favor certain colors? How do you think clothes colors vary by region, age, and more? Do you think there are best colors to wear to work, or colors that are definitely unacceptable to wear to work?
Hunting for colorful pants for work? They’re very popular everywhere for 2023 — but note that in general brands like Rekucci, Krazy Larry, Banana Republic, BR Factory Express, J.Crew, and Boden have a ton of options; here’s a mini-roundup of what’s out there right now:
Picture via Stencil.
Interesting question! I’m the same, Kat: navy looks way better on me than black (we have very similar coloring!), but I still have several go-to black pieces (dresses mostly). I’ve made a conscious effort to buy more navy and dark blue suits, shoes, staples, and I’ve been happier in them.
I also know that I look awful in pastels, but slay in a jewel tone, so I try to have many options for dresses, blouses, and accessories in those colors. I just reorganized my sweaters/cardigans and realized that I had three major color groups: the pinks (mostly fuchsia, coral, and lipstick pink), the greens/blues, and the obligatory neutrals (b, w, camel, a few navy). It really struck me that those are the ones I’ve hung onto!
I really agree that navy is less harsh. I like it in the spring and summer, where camel shoes work well with it (or burgundy).
And then we have the half of the year when I’m in black tights and I get all “navy; what is the point; black is just so much more practical.”
If I lived where there was no winter, I’d be Team Navy / Team Camel 100%. Now, it’s a tough love, largely dictated by my insanely small closet.
I looove navy and camel. Along the same lines: navy and leopard.
+1 leopard is a neutral in my wardrobe.
Blue. Exclusively. Everyday. Every where.
What a great link! I would love to have a single color wardrobe like that.
+1. In doing our laundry this weekend, I did a white load, a brights load, a mixed dark load, and a blue load. I venture to guess that 60-70% of both my wardrobe and my husband’s is some type of navy or dark blue.
Question for OP – do you wear tights in the winter? If so how do you get the right shade to go with your blues? And do you wear blue shoes?
I wear black tights and shoes usually.
I’m in Philly — navy and gray are my staple neutrals, though I do have a few black sheath dresses that I like to wear with b/w patterned jackets. I look best in white, blue, green, and certain deep pinks, so that’s mostly what I buy! I’ve finally learned not to buy tops in other colors for the sake of mixing things up, because they will. not. get. worn.
all about eevee
My staple neutral is chestnut leather. I rarely if ever wear black or need black shoes.
I have a semi-capsule wardrobe with black as the base. Then I mix in gray, navy, blue, and white. If you see me EVER, I’m in something black and/or blue.
I look great in cool jewel tones and look awful in those warm muted 70s colors like mustard and olive green, so I haven’t bought anything new in quite a while. When “my colors” are in style and in the stores, I do mix in stuff like hunter green and maroon and deep purple.
I always joke that I only wear 4 colors (not counting neutrals). This is true for work and non-work wardrobes.
– red (true red to burgundy)
– blue (cobalt)
– purple (plum to deep violet)
– green (teal to forest)
– black black black all the time
– grey (cool greys only, from palest to charcoal)
Never too many shoes...
I am pretty close to you, although I hate white and replace it with camel.
This is exactly me except I only wear white as part of a pattern or colorblocking, and grey doesn’t really do anything for me so I don’t wear it much.
Sadly, black, black, and more black.
I do wear some lighter colors in summer (lightish blue, lightish mauve/lavender) so I have a couple of neutral skirts and pants in lighter colors to coordinate – gray and taupe –
but in the winter time, wearing charcoal gray is a big foray into color for me.
I’m with you.
Charcoal is my pop of color.
Love that bit about charcoal being your pop of color–I am exactly the same here!
I’ve recently been thinking about limiting my future work blouse purchases to things that are teal or purple, since I look good in both of those colors. And they both go with navy or grey bottoms, so I kind of want to streamline my shirt/pant wardrobe, though I probably wouldn’t color-limit on dresses. Grey or silver shoes are my most-worn item by far. I used to think I liked brown, but it’s so hard to get the right shade that I want to give up.
I’m all about cool neutrals. But having worked in higher ed for several years, I’ve collected a number of pieces in school colors, since we’re expected to represent the institution from time to time. My current institution is burgundy/maroon, which is fine. The previous school, on the other hand, was orange. Not only is orange work wear difficult to find, it’s the absolute worst with my coloring.
I too work in higher ed. Fortunately for me, our color is navy :)
Need a cool name
I hear you! I do not look good in orange and black. I am trying to wear less black in general, which doesn’t help. Last time this was required I wore a black and white dress with a kind of coral/salmon sweater that was close enough to orange. But in the winter I am stuck.
Yeah, women at that university wear a lot of black with orange jewelry and call it good.
Navy and Greys are my primary neutrals. Teal to muted aqua,ivory, blush and burgundy are my accent colors. Leather goods are Predominantly cordovan although I also have tan or black patent. Jewelry is silver/rubies/pearls.
I pretty much wear the same colors on the weekend, too. Just add denim.
Black, navy, grey, cream, olive green. I look really young for my age and I find wearing lots of bright colours or patterns 1) looks dated and 2) makes me look younger, so I try to avoid them.
Although I just realized after hitting send that I am wearing a pink and navy floral dress today, ha. It’s summer and I give myself a little more leeway.
oil in houston
I don’t wear a lot of black, but rather a lot of:
purple – only if dark
blue – every single shade
I also have a few colorful work clothes that I rotate, mainly a red skirt and a floral one. I then wear neutral tops and jackets with them.
I wear mostly black, white (never on the bottom though), lots of coral-y red, blush and a few hits of mid-blue. In the winter I bring in darker shades of red like burgundy. I have navy and cool gray suits too but I’m much more drawn to black as my base neutral. All of my favourite work shoes are some versions of black, blush, or black-and-white.
I was literally just talking about this. I once knew a lady who ran her own CPA firm (just her in the office), and to separate her work life from her personal life, she took the capsule wardrobe to the extreme. Everything she wore to the office was black, white, and red; everything she wore at home was purple. I’m talking EVERYTHING – her earrings were black, white, and red, her office decor was black, white, and red – even her hair accessories. If I recall correctly, I think each piece had to have all three colors as well. Never had the chance to see her in purple, but I continue to be intensely curious about this 10 years later. What did she wear while driving? When did she change? It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries to me.
Over the past few years I have converted my wardrobe to all jewel tones: dark greens and blues, burgundy, purple, etc. I am very pale with auburn hair and green eyes. Emerald green is my best color. I have a lot of emerald or dark green clothes and always get compliments on them. Black and grey are my neutrals. I look horrible in white or anything light like khaki. I reserve brown only for pants, but I have pretty much phased them out because black looks better. I feel like green is definitely a power color for me because it really brings out my features and I’m usually the only person in the room wearing green. My weekend clothes are also jewel-toned, but there’s more room for fun color mixing with t-shirts and things I wouldn’t ever wear to the office.
dragon ball super
Good post. Office clothing can be tricky for men and women alike, but women can have more time with it, because there isn’t a set standard, like the man’s suit.
All black everything, lol. Except maybe an occasional colored or printed shoe here and there!
+1 on all black everything. My boss actually didn’t notice for over a year until a coworker joked about it. When I shop online for work I just filter by color and buy everything in my size that suits me.
Primarily navy and black, occasionally another jewel tone. Always with a burgundy handbag.
I wear mostly black or grey, or really any other dark color!
When it comes to color I like shades that re hard to identify. A blue-gray, or a brown-red. Some colors that just scream “older woman” to me — coral, turquoise, purple. I wouldn’t wear a red suit, but I would wear a red sweater set. I don’t wear white except white jeans for playtime.
Core colors: navy, mahogany, burgundy, grey
Accents: dusty rose, cool greens, ivory, periwinkle, stone