It's all in the hues that you choose

When it comes to job interviews, first impressions count. But dressing right doesn't just mean looking smart. The colour of your clothes will speak volumes about your aptitude for the job
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Worrying about what to wear to that all-important interview? Should you wear a suit or go smart-casual - and what about accessories? Well, forget the actual clothing and think more about colours; the hues you choose could subconsciously say more than you think to a future employer.

Worrying about what to wear to that all-important interview? Should you wear a suit or go smart-casual - and what about accessories? Well, forget the actual clothing and think more about colours; the hues you choose could subconsciously say more than you think to a future employer.

Light has been used for some time now as therapy, playing with our deep-seated responses to and against certain tints, so the reactions certain colours evoke shouldn't be underestimated, says Angela Wright, a colour psychologist and author of The Beginner's Guide to Colour Psychology. After all, popular culture offers us constant readings of what colour means. Red is associated with passion and sex (scarlet woman, red-light district, the woman in red); in films, baddies in black battle with goodies in white; and girls in pink are perceived as sweet and innocent.

Admittedly, not every single colour will suit every person, but these days you can usually find a shade to suit your personal skin tone. So maybe you should think again about dressing to impress in that puce shirt of yours.

Red suggests passion and extroversion. To an American boss, a red tie suggests shrewdness and ambition - but to a British one, it may have political undertones. A good colour to wear if you're applying for a go-getting position.

Green stands for balance, being slap bang in the middle of the colour spectrum. Green people are fair, calm under pressure and able to keep a sense of perspective under stress. Suitable for prospective police officers.

Pink conveys "fluffy bunny" on both male and female candidates, though men can sometimes get away with a touch of FT pink on the shirt. Never wear this colour to an interview as it suggests a submissive personality and lack of drive.

Grey Think John Major and don't wear it: grey suggests a lack of personality and self-confidence. Being neither black nor white, it shows a lack of conviction. So absolutely no good for a stockbroker... or, indeed, a Prime Minister.

Yellow hints at a fun-loving personality and a good sense of humour. Thiscan work wellfor someonewho wants to work as a team player or an entertainer, but could signal to your prospective boss that you're a bit of a clown.

Orange is for creativity, passion and sensuality. Long associated with paganism, orange says you'd be a great entertainer, artist or writer, but it could send out the wrong "fiery" messages if you're looking to be a librarian.

Blue is for intellect. Associated with efficiency and dependability, truth and integrity (after all, what did Jesus's mum wear?) Good for lawyers and accountants, but not so good for designers and art teachers.

Black Apart from draining the face, black indicates a personality hidden within the safety of uniform. Great if you want to be a nun or a priest, but for anything creative, it could suggest a lack of individuality or that you have something to hide.

Purple has distinctly spiritual connotations. It tells an interviewer that you are a person who likes to be left on your own to meditate. Yoga teacher - yes. Customer service representative - perhaps not.

White signifies cleanliness and purity, so it's for nuns and priests again. Like its opposite, black, white hides the true self and washes away individuality. Doctors and nurses can't go wrong in white, everyone else might want to appear less "blank".

A version of this article appears in the book 'The Total Guide To Improving Your Career', available at WH Smith, priced £2.99

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