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The Little Black Dress: It never goes out of style. And I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t own at least three or four. Why has the LBD been able to transcend decades of fashion fluctuation? Because the color black is confidence. It’s the ultimate power color. From sports fields to boardrooms, black is a color associated with authority and confidence. Perhaps most important, when it comes to dressing for the workplace, wearing black is reliable. I think New Yorker Matilda Kahl put it perfectly when she told Harper’s Bazaar, “There’s extensive pressure put on a woman to uphold a flawless appearance … I know my male colleagues are taken seriously no matter what they wear.” Kahl opted to cut creativity out of her wardrobe in favor of a workplace uniform of black trousers and crisp white shirts — and women’s fashion trends have followed suit: a clean-cut, pattern-free, neutral style is acceptable for almost any occasion.

Does this movement toward a neutral-palette wardrobe suggest a change in the way we view black, our time-tested power color? Friends of Frank think so. In a recent survey of men and women working in an office environment, Frank observed a correlation between overall workplace confidence and the amount of color women wear to work. Of women who said they feel very confident in their ability to perform their job well, half wear color to work three times a week or more, and they’re 85% more likely than men to say wearing colorful outfits to work makes them feel more confident. What’s even more telling is that almost one in four say they wear black to work when they want to blend in, while more than a third say that wearing black to work is safer than wearing color. Where do we see this color-clad confidence in action? While almost half say they wouldn’t wear color to a job interview, three in five say they would wear color to a meeting with a boss or client, suggesting a further correlation between age or job seniority and confidence, as expressed through wardrobe.

Does this information mean the LBD is a thing of the past? Absolutely not. After all, almost a third of confident women in the workplace say they wear black to work when they want to be taken seriously. We’re merely asking you to consider the way color theory trends, just like anything else. Knowing that color and confidence go hand in hand for women in the workplace, is there an opportunity for your marketing to harness that power?

To continue the conversation and learn more about Frank About Women, contact Chief Strategy Officer Shaun Stripling.

“Why I Wear the Exact Same Thing to Work Every Day,” Matilda Kahl, Harper’s Bazaar, April 2015

Claire Glisson About the Author
Claire Glisson Former Strategic Planning Intern

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