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  • Matthew Cornell

Fashion Forward: How to Wear Fun Bright Colors in a Grayscale World

Updated: Mar 11

How members of Gen Z are expressing themselves by wearing bright colors

(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

By: Matthew Cornell


Individuality and personality. Both of these things are expressed in the ways individuals present themselves. This is particularly true in the way people dress. Everything from taste in movies and music to their hobbies to their style or character can be seen in the clothes a person wears. This is especially true for members of Gen Z.


While past generations experienced wave after wave of fashion trends, as shown by Insider, Gen Z’s experience has been a little different. There still have been trends that the members of Gen Z have followed, but Urban Matter shares that there’s been a shift in our fashion choices that’s seen the number of trends shrink. This shift has occurred as conformity has been replaced by individuality and a desire for personal expression in fashion. This leads us to look at today’s topic in fashion: bright colors.



Bright colors in history

While bright colors have become a staple in modern fashion, they haven’t always been as popular. According to an article from Time Magazine, bright colors were only worn by those with wealth and power prior to the 20th century and were seen as inappropriate and suggestive for people that were less well-off. Most common people at the time often wore more dark, neutral clothes. They did this for two reasons: first, clothes like these took longer to show dirt due to their dark color; and second, technology at the time didn’t allow colored clothes to be easily created. Even when they became more widespread, they were more fragile and easily became patchy or sun-bleached.


This all changed during the later half of the century, when the production capabilities and consumer spending started to rise following the world wars. This new ability, along with the popularization of the colored TV, brought about the widespread production of colored clothing in all the shades we love today.



How to style bright colors

When using color in personal outfits, there aren’t many rules for what can and can’t be worn or paired. It’s all about personal expression and wearing the colors you like to wear. However, there are some general principles that can help guide which colors you choose to wear, one of which is the science of color psychology.


An article by Science of People shares how color psychology and color theory can play into deciding what to wear. All colors come with emotions associated with them. Certain colors like blue and green can convey feelings of calmness, loyalty, optimism, and healing. Other colors, like red and orange, can convey moods of passion, aggression and energy. Even neutral colors convey meaning, with black signifying mystery or taking on more of a sleek professional feel, white signifying purity and transparency, and gray portraying neutrality. The unique emotions evoked by each color should be taken into account when choosing which colors to wear.


Additionally, while bright colors are a great addition to any workplace, certain steps need to be taken to make sure their use is appropriate and tasteful. While fashion standards in the workplace seem to be relaxing post-pandemic, individuals should still consult their workplace dress code prior to trying anything too adventurous. Assuming bright colors can be worn, costume designer Salvador Perez has some tips based on his designs for the TV show The Mindy Project. He suggests wearing basic items of color that go together in a unique and tasteful combo. Even smaller elements of color can still add some fun to a professional look, allowing for expression even if it’s visually more reserved.



What Gen Z has to say about bright colors

To see what Gen Z professionals thought about bright colors, specifically in the workplace, I asked my peers at AGENZ PR to wear the bright colors they love in a professional way and asked them for their thoughts. While not for everyone, those that came in bright colors appreciated the opportunity to do so.


Estella loves color, and can be seen wearing pastels to express herself.

Estella Ramble wearing a green dress
Estella Ramble - Senior Client Manager

"Color is a great way for me to express my bright personality," said Senior Client Manager Estella Ramble.


Collin enjoys color, and uses it to add a pop to a workplace outfit like a suit.

Collin wearing a green gray suit and bright gold tie
Collin Renfro - Senior Brand Manager

“I like wearing color because it adds an interesting pop to whatever I'm wearing,” said Senior Brand Manager Collin Renfro. “I typically like wearing neutral colors but it’s fun to add something colorful to make an outfit more interesting.”


Some of our ladies follow suit, using bright colors to express themselves and add an element of fun to their professional dress.

Olivia Hertel, Olivia Moore, and Chandler Ray wearing bright colors in their outfits
Client Manager Olivia Hertel (left), Senior Client Manager Olivia Moore (center), Client Manager Chandler Ray (right)

“I feel like it makes you look friendly or outgoing if you wear brighter colors,” said Client Manager Olivia Hertel. “So I do it to represent my personality.”


“I like wearing color in the workplace because it's fun,” said Senior Client Manager Olivia Moore. “A pop of color in the workplace makes it feel like a more fun environment to work in.”


“It's fun for the professional world so you stand out a little bit,” said Client Manager Chandler Ray. “There's a time and place for neutrals and blacks, but color shows confidence!”



The consensus

Bright color is a great way to express yourself and your personality visually, and can be used to convey certain moods and feelings according to color psychology. Gen Zers are using bright colors to represent their own individuality, and you can too! So whether you're new to fashion or have done so many times, take time to think about bright colors in your own wardrobe and find the ones that are right for you!



(Interview photos shot and edited by Matthew Cornell)


About AGENZ PR

AGENZ PR is a student-led public relations agency at University of North Texas at Frisco. It’s comprised of some of the top PR students from the Mayborn School of Journalism. AGENZ’s focus is on diverse, digital, data-driven public relations that allow clients to better reach Gen Zs with innovative communications. For more information, visit the agency’s website at www.agenzpr.com