Last week we looked at authority colours. This week we’re looking at power.
What’s the difference? Well, authority colours walk together with law and order (think of the black cassock of the priest and the navy blue of the police). They are sober, they have good taste. Even the tropical white is worn only in summer – so it’s never inappropriate.
Power colours are different. They don’t give two hoots about whether they are appropriate or sober. They’re not bothered about law and order. These colours are all about impact.
And yes, they can unashamedly be about sex. Just take a look at this advert for Virgin Airways.
Red is always a power colour. Some women refer to their red lipstick as their “Power Lipstick”; the one they wear for that important meeting when they need a bit of a boost. Chaps reach for the red tie. Sometimes red is about sex. We always think about that cliche of the little black dress, but most of the time, a little red dress is going to do the job a lot quicker and more effectively. Being the longest wavelength, red is a powerful colour. Although not technically the most visible, it has the property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. Hence its effectiveness in traffic lights the world over. Its effect is physical; it stimulates us and raises the pulse rate. It relates to the masculine principle and can activate the “fight or flight” instinct. Red is strong, and very basic. Pure red is the simplest colour, with no subtlety. It is stimulating and lively, very friendly. Oh yes, and sexy.
Everyone has their red. From the scarlet of Winter, the cherry red of Summer, the Brick of Autumn and Poppy of Spring, we all have a red we look fantastic in. I suspect that one of your reds rated a double star for you, didn’t it?
But what about your other power colours?
These will nearly always be strong and bright. For you Summers, remember that while your colours are softer than those in the other Seasons, they always look bright on you.
So revisit your colour swatches and look at the brightest end. Even if those colours did not get a great rating by themselves (I’m thinking of vibrant orange and grass green for Autumns), don’t underestimate the impact that just a splash of them has when mixed with your more highly rated colours. A peek of flame at the neck of a dark olive jacket can give your look a whole new aspect, while a flash of lagoon blue or magenta can give a different twist to almost all the Winter Neutrals. You Summers, just consider dipping into your bright raspberry and coral red and as for Springs – well, we can stumble into two pitfalls. The first is wearing too many bright colours together and looking like an explosion in a paint factory. The second, and more subtly dangerous, is drifting into the habit of wearing only neutrals and looking far too bland.Two and a splash is always good colour advice for Springs. Make sure that splash really counts.
And I guess I really do have to address the question of black. Is black ever a power colour? Well, sometimes.
Tonight (31st October) my completely beautiful daughter donned black lace from head to toe, complete with rakish little hat and eye-veil. I painted her face stark white, with dramatic 1940s eye-makeup and dramatically scarlet mouth. She looked utterly superb – if one ignored the honey coloured hair, which was all wrong with her look. She’s a Summer, and without the dramatic face-paint, that same black would have rendered her vulnerable; her skin would have looked like skimmed milk, her soft colouring would have paled into insignificance and the black would have been far too severe. As it was, for Halloween, she looked fabulous.
I’ve stopped wearing black, even for Halloween, as it accentuates every line and shadow on my face and cruelly draws high-lights the fact that my jawline is not quite as firm as once it was. Fortunately, that other Halloween colour, orange, looks great!
For everyone but a Winter, black is definitely NOT a power colour. On a Winter, it can look stunning.
I remember reading a book written for aspiring romantic novelists (yes, I confess, I was once an aspiring romantic novelist – maybe I still am) where the writer, an immensely successful romantic novelist herself, advised that the hero should have at least one scene where he dressed all in black and preferably should make his first appearance dressed in that colour. Well, it’s not really de rigueur for a man to wear red from head to toe, is it?
Do heroes dress in black? We only have to remember the Man in Black: “All because the lady loves Milk Tray”. But then, if you think about it – haven’t your tastes moved on? For me, I now prefer my man to be dressed in his Summer soft grey with cornflower blue shirt, delivering to me a box of Hotel Chocolat. Far more classy darling, if less flashy. But on the other hand, the husband of one of my friends is a Dramatic Winter. Dressed all in black – yes, he can quite take a girl’s breath away (in a totally aesthetic manner of course). I have no idea if he delivers boxes of chocolates on the side – we don’t have that kind of relationship!
So, in summary, these power colours are best used in moderation unless you are totally confident in them. Vibrant Autumns, Paint-box Springs, Jewel and Sprinter Winters, you can all do a lot more. For the rest of us, just one note ( a tie, a scarf, a camisole) can transform an otherwise ordinary or plebeian outfit. And go on – indulge yourself with that little double star dress instead of the black. Chaps – it’s the party shirt or waistcoat for you, but for goodness sake – be brave and bold about it; there should be no holding back when it comes to sex and power!