Sunday, July 13, 2008

Black or Brown? Revisiting Base Neutrals

A reader of my e-zine, Michelle, posed this question: “You write about personal branding and having a base neutral so that people expect you to wear that color and thus forget about it basically, but can you make a brand with more than one base for example both black and brown?”

This is a question that is near and dear to me! I have gone back and forth with this one myself, so I know how frustrating it can be trying to make these decisions.

The short answer is that whatever you wear consistently will become your brand. If your wardrobe is 75% black with two or three accent colors, people will associate the color black with you. The same goes for brown. If, however, you have a mix of brown and black as your base neutrals, people will associate you with “dark neutrals“. If you use the same few accent colors with both brown and black, these few accent colors bridge the neutrals and the color scheme is tighter. If you have different accent colors for each neutral, then the effect is somewhat diluted.

Naturally there are benefits to choosing a base neutral or neutrals. But let me just point out that using a base neutral to brand yourself is not the only way! Perhaps your brand is that you are always wearing bright, neon colors…which change all the time, but are always bright, bright, bright. Or maybe it’s animal prints…every outfit has a piece with an animal print. Or maybe it’s lace. See how this works? Choosing an element that you incorporate consistently is what brands you. Color just happens to be one of the easiest ways to do it because it’s most noticeable. But you should by no means feel constrained or anxious about your choices. This is why I think my method of wardrobe planning is so much better than the capsule wardrobe method. It allows you to develop your style and your brand with much more freedom while still keeping your wardrobe very small.

So, Michelle…go ahead and use both black and brown in your wardrobe. Have fun using your style persona and your accent color to further develop your personal brand.

See you soon...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information or to sign up for my e-zine, please visit my Wardrobe Planning Webpage.)


Scott Bel said...

Interesting, but beyond my scope.

Scott A Bell

Brent Skinner said...

Jenn's my wife. I have firsthand knowledge that she works really hard on this blog. It's great to see all these folks commenting at it, following her e-zine ("Wardrobe-Wise"), and visiting her website (Jennifer Skinner Online).

A typical guy, I had my reservations about trying to read a blog on wardrobes. I didn't think the subject matter would interest me. But there you have it: I was obviously mistaken about that -- 10 times over, in fact!

I just asked her what she thought my personal brand was. She said, "Probably casual, but I don't think you've really developed much of a personal brand beyond that."

I tend to agree. Having read this entry of hers, I find myself wanting a personal brand with my clothes -- nothing at all flamboyant, as I'm a guy, but just something that says, "This is Brent Skinner," and for that to be associated with good things.

I do encourage anyone who wants this kind of advice -- especially guys who just want suggestions on how to make subtle, masculine changes to their wardrobes -- to seek her counsel.

Lisa M. McLellan said...

I love to wear black. I think maybe I wear too much of it sometimes. I think I had 3 different black turtle necks at boot camp last year. I have a really long neck so I like turtle necks. I don't think mock turtle necks look good on me at all. Anyway, back to color, yes I love black as far as neutral colors go. But my all time favorite color is PINK!!!!! Pink, pink, pink! Especially very light "baby pink." miss you on the blogosphere Jen!