Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ladies in Red

The other day, I wore black slacks, a black-checkered shirt, and a red sweater to work. Later that evening, I went to a farewell cocktail party for one of the lobbyists who is leaving PharmaCo. and going on to some K Street law firm to work as an even higher paid lobbyist and consultant. A couple of the women in our group commented on my red sweater and complimented its colorfulness in comparison to their muted, earth tones.

Having worked in Washington for a bit now, I accepted the compliment verbally, but then also made a mental note. Were they being sincere in their compliments or was this yet another classic, Washington, passive-aggressive way of telling me my sweater was too bright for their conservative tastes and perhaps it wasn’t appropriate for a federal affairs office? (See, this is what D.C. does to you. It messes with your mind and makes you doubt every little thing you say, do, or wear. It’s silly.) I shoved that thought aside, though, and decided I was just going to take it as a compliment—nothing more, nothing less.

The red sweater reminded me of a study that was done several years ago. I don’t remember where I read this, but one day, a professor of psychology decided to engage in an experiment and enlisted his students to help. Each time a student saw a woman on campus wearing red, he asked them to record the appearance and then go up and compliment the woman, telling them how nice they looked. His theory had something to do with power of suggestion and he ventured that within days of this Operation Red, there would be an increase in the number of women who would wear red. Sure enough, about a week into the experiment, he and his students noticed that the number of women wearing red had doubled.

So, what made me think of that study and what does it have to do with my red sweater?

Well… I wore my red sweater on Tuesday and I was one woman who was paid a compliment. Since Tuesday, three more women have shown up in the office wearing red, including one of the women who complimented me. Coincidence? Or a sign that I have good taste and others are following my lead?

Whatever it is, I’m keeping my red sweater, as well as my red Eisenhower-style jacket I bought many years ago at the Pendleton outlet in Oregon. Oh, and just so you know, red is a good color for me; it makes my blue eyes stand out, which then results in a second compliment. All in all, a good color for compliments!

Photo copyright: Declan McCallaugh Photography, 2005.

11 comments:

Kimberly said...

So that goes to show you that IT WAS a compliment they were giving you! I use to have a red sweater before my mission...Brad, who wasn't my husband at that time, loved that sweater with my black pants, but hated the heels! I haven't worn heels since my mission!
Keep on keeping on with the red sweater and those blue eyes!

JMK said...

Heels?! I'm lucky if I can walk upright in flats!

I love red! I'll bet you look fabulous in red. With all that gorgeous dark, curly hair of yours and your piercing brown eyes, I'd say you undoubtedly look stunning!

hm-UK said...

The power of suggestion is an interesting thing, huh? While I'm sure you look fabulous in your red sweater (I have a red jacket and used to have a pair of somewhat-garish red cowboy boots that I LOVED to pieces), red is an energetic colour and I think humans have a real physiological reaction to seeing it on surfaces. But I digress, your post reminds me of a psychology study (not sure where I read it) that was done which showed results of people performing tasks at a more efficient rate and competent level if they believed they were part of a scientific study, which I find interesting. I keep looking for the two-way mirrors at my job and hoping someone in a white coat and carrying a clipboard can see that I'm putting my 'all' into my work!

Di said...

Oh please - us NYers used to make fun of DC because the women there were prone to wearing navy blue or red suits with gold jewelry/buttons (NYers would only be caught dead in those - black, grey or brown being the acceptable professional colors in NYC at the time). So if they are actually looking askance at red now, they're only about a decade late. And red is one of my favorite colors anyhow - so who gives a shit what the biddies of the district think?? :-D

I wear heels all the time - pharmacos will do that to you. I also have a number of red items, including red cowboy boots. But I still only have black, grey and taupe suits. LOL.

Zanne said...

Face it my friend, you are a trend setter! ;)

JMK said...

Update: Today, the second woman who complimented my red sweater showed up in a red sweater and jacket ensemble! I'm cracking up.

HM-UK: Red is rather energizing, isn't it? As for two way mirrors... please, no! I can't bear the thought of being scrutinized. Now one-way mirrors might be rather fun...

Di: I'm proud to say, I don't own a red suit. Just a red sweater and a jed jacket. But, when I see women in DC wearing red suits, I totally think of you and laugh. I mean, for all the power this town supposes itself to wield, you'd never see Ted Kennedy or Orrin Hatch in a red suit. Why women continue to insist on wearing, I don't understand. It femasculates them, if you ask me. (I just made that up...)

Kimberly said...

I have blue eyes!!! Ha! Like I'd expect you to remember...

JMK said...

Kimberly: Well, that's embarrassing. Sorry about that!

JMK said...

Update II: And yet another woman showed up in red on Friday at work! (That was two women at work on Friday in red!!) Maybe I'll wear my yellow sweater at the next staff meeting and see what happens...

TNDRHRT said...

Red is my favorite color! I'm actually going to paint my second bedroom/office CRIMSON SILK (a Behr color)

JMK said...

Crimson Silk... Sounds lovely and warm. Red rooms are such an East Coast thing, too. I love driving through DC and catching glimpses inside homes. There's always one house on each block, it seems, with one room painted in some deep red color. The closest I've ever come to painting a room red was in my last apartment, when I painted the closet doors red.