Clothing Color Myths

Here myths about clothing colors are debunked.

Educational note: shoes, accessories, ties, etc. are not "clothing." Socks technically can be called undergarments, which in turn are clothing (though most undergarments are not discussed here for they should never be seen in public).

Myths about Black

a black suit is acceptable for interviewing
- despite what some salespeople and others say, it is not okay in most countries and occasionally can prompt a negative reaction from an interviewer

black impresses the general or target audience
- nobody likes fading and showing of dandruff, for example
- depressive or threatening pushes others away
- black suits and black dress shirts have associations with death and criminals
- black pants are associated with service workers
- black turtleneck sweaters are negatively associated with intellectuals
- a black leather jacket has a positive reputation with most people, but it does little for the wearer if, for example, he looks nerdy above the neck and the jacket is unimpressive quality or does not fit well

black goes with everything
- black can clash with other strong colors (orange, for instance) and (as clothing) usually leads to distraction when mixed with not-quite-matching black (though leather and fabric often safely mix)
- what people remember as black-on-black often is black with dark gray

black is the go-to color for dress socks
- regularly wearing black dress socks can suggest a military background (occasionally okay if accurate) or a rigid mindset
- dark blue and dark gray are acceptable color substitutes for black in most dress socks situations

black should be worn to funerals
- maybe in the 1800's, but today most funerals do not call for black clothing

black and blue do not belong together (or look like a bruise)
- while dark blue usually looks too similar to black, medium or bright blue looks good with black on many people, more likely when the materials differ significantly, as in black sweater and medium blue jeans

black and brown do not belong together
- that probably is true for traditional circumstances (such as a job interview), but a man is free to mix brown clothing with black clothing for casual purposes as long as the brown is not very dark (though it tends not to make a particularly attractive pairing)

Other Color Myths

men are taken more seriously when they have a somber color palette (white, gray, black, dark brown, dark blue)
- wearing somber colors most of them time when not required is likely to make a man seem rigid, unapproachable, or boring to most
- there is a fine line between serious and many negatives - a man can regularly wear color in his wardrobe and convey seriousness if fit, quality, hairstyle, etc. are right

pink isn't for real men
- beside pink ties (technically not clothing), pale pink collared shirts are safe for occasional use in most situations, as can be some pinkish sweaters over dress shirts
- fear of pink is best overcome by starting with patterns or pink under sweaters

No white after Labor Day
- that is a peculiar Americanism that has never been strongly followed and with the trend of warm weather lasting longer, in many places it is not strange to wear white pants, etc. into early fall
- white dress shirts and white sweaters make too much practical sense to not wear during cold weather

colorful socks are fun and make someone look more interesting
- no, they usually make someone look silly and distract the viewer (who should be looking mostly at the face)
-enough colors are okay in socks that someone should be able to feel creative without choosing, for example, bright red
- socks technically are undergarments and therefore should never be an attention-grabbing part of someone's appearance, despite the extra sales that would bring retailers (solid light blue is about the maximum)
- for men who crave color variety, one loud color in a small amount (e.g., narrow stripes) is safe for most casual situations

sock color should match shoe color
- similarity usually is good, but only in a few formal or highly structured situations is matching required (black with black)

pants color should match shoe color
- similarity usually is good, and see the point about black pants

navy jacket plus gray pants = security guard
- no, not unless the fit, quality, and the wearer's physical features and demeanor are similar to those of a security guard (e.g., muscular with a conservative haircut and an unfriendly expression)

a plain white tee shirt is a men's must have (roughly since looking good on James Dean)
-when worn without a jacket, that (its believers fail to mention) suggests it needs a flattering fit on the right body type (toned or moderately muscular and no obvious fat areas) to look good

women can greatly help men with color
- while the average woman sees color better than the average man, because women typically do not know the unwritten rules about the right colors or color combinations for men, there is no reason to trust color advice more if it comes from a woman

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