How to Dress to Look More Friendly? — Inside Out Style



Reader Question: I struggle with the intimidation and unapproachable effect of being a tall, high-contrast, and very classic dramatic personality. I dress in medium to low contrast and softer colors to be approachable and less intimidating, but that makes me feel less. How would you recommend dressing to look more approachable?

How to Dress to Be More Approachable?

Yin and Yang are Key

concept yin and yang Approachability is key, and you can see why others make you feel more intimidating if you’re very tall or have a high-contrast color or like to wear dramatic style clothing (or a combination of these).

Instead of completely changing your style, see how you can tailor what you’re wearing to help you look more approachable (if that’s what you really want).

Search for Yin elements of design

Yes, a lower contrast value is more yin, but this may not be for you. Why not try instead:

  • Softer fabrics rather than very stiff or structured fabrics
  • Curved patterns instead of lines or controls
  • Colors instead of neutrals
  • Softer colors than bold colors
  • Lightweight rather than heavy fabrics
  • Balancing dark clothes with slightly lighter colors (and going step by step using a medium color too)

Approachability Research

We have a natural desire to connect, be welcomed and accepted at social gatherings or in the office. A 2013 study examined the factors that influence approachability in the field of library science—what makes a librarian appear approachable. Check out the study here – First Impressions and Reference Encounter: The Effect of Emotion and Clothing on Librarian Approachability


Regardless of the librarian’s age, race, dress or behavior, his smile had a significant impact on the audience.

Smiling increases approachability for everyone. The researchers found that in the entire study, smiling was the strongest factor in approachability.

Wearing light colors instead of dark colors will make you look more friendly.

Wearing lighter colors instead of dark colors makes you look more approachable, and colors instead of neutrals and an accessory that can start a conversation

I recently had a few professional photos taken and I’m smiling in all of them because I know that smiling is the best accessory you can wear.

dress formality

In the study on librarian accessibility, formal dress developed Accessibility for men, but got worse Accessibility for women.

You increase the yin element in your outfit to increase approachability. Yin elements are softer and less dominant, while Yang elements are stronger and attract attention. For more information on yang and yin elements, read this blog post – How to Tell the Yin and Yang of Clothing?

This may be using soft or lighter fabrics such as wool, cashmere, and chiffon. Less structured clothes with an element of flow and rustling will also look more friendly. You may prefer a round-necked blouse instead of a button-down shirt with a stand-up collar; open placket instead of zipper, or pleated or waterfall hem instead of stepped hem.

Fabrics that are soft to the touch make you look more approachable

The soft wool in this jacket makes it more approachable than a stiffer fabric

You can also add yin elements to your outfits by using flowing, swirling patterns like brocade, flower or shawl instead of straight lines and plain patterns like plaid, stripe or geometric.


Light colors make you appear more friendly and approachable, while dark colors are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative. You don’t want to stray from your color palette, but use the color to your advantage.

In the Librarian survey, blue was the most accessible color and red negatively impacted approachability overall. Brighter colors in your palette express energy and confidence, while matte colors appear more trustworthy and less threatening.

Colors such as blue and green are seen as stable, reliable and reliable, as are some neutral colors brown and tan, so wearing more colors will help you dress friendly.

Reducing the value contrast of your clothes will also add more yin. Using medium value colors is great for passing light to dark value contrast – transitioning between colors from light to dark (read this to understand more), lowers the overall perceived value contrast.


In the experiment, the researchers found that having a name tag increased the approachability of librarians. In certain professions, having a name tag can be a convenient way to increase approachability, because a name tag is an indication that you are someone who works in that environment (and that they are not just approaching anyone). However, this will not apply to all professions. You could try wearing something interesting that reveals who you are – a piece of jewelry; bright shoes or a graphic T-shirt – anything that adds charm to your outfit and creates a conversation starter.

You don’t have to follow all the suggestions above, just add an element or two to soften your outfits and make you look more personable.

It’s important to make sure you don’t add too many yin elements to undermine your confidence. You still want to be yourself, just in a way that is a little more approachable to other people.

Related Reading

How to Use Color to Communicate Your Authority or Approachability

How to Resolve Style Conflicts in Your Clothes?

Change The Way Your Clothes Communicate in 1 Easy Step

Using Yin and Yang in Clothing Design to Balance Your Look

How to Dress to Look More Friendly?



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