There is no doubt that colour paints our everyday. Don’t get us wrong ― we love our classic film noir. But the palette of our wardrobe has the power to dictate our attitudes and our days altogether.
You may have heard of Colour Theory: a designer using a colour wheel to pick what appealing visual will compliment your latest vintage decor fad, or perhaps your mom attended a Colour Me Beauty party in the ‘80s to discover what seasonal tones fit her natural colouring. More recently, people are studying the psychology behind colour. Specifically, the way colours can alter our emotions. Artists, designers, and stylists have been using the power of colour over our emotions for centuries! It was Picasso who famously stated: “Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”
So without further ado, here’s our take on how colours make us feel and how to dress for the mindset you want:
Me, a socialite? After a year or more in isolation we’re due for a tune up in the social butterfly department. Orange is the colour of bravery, outward connections, confident beauty, and a successful attitude. Yes, we know Orange Is the New Black was a pun and Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde that “whoever said orange is the new black was seriously disturbed,” but that just means it’s undoubtedly a statement colour. You can work this eternally warm hue in tropical summer patterns, deep sunset-reminiscent sundresses, or bold and bright statement accessories. Dapple it into your day regardless of season when you need a confidence boost or are facing a significant challenge.
Greta Constantine Dress
Green has long been associated with healing and renewal. In many Eastern and Asian cultures, green symbolizes new beginnings and prosperity. That’s why it’s a perfect choice if you’re focusing on self care or facing change. You may want to choose some sage green activewear or a vintage plaid forest-green knit cardigan, depending on the vibe or season. Whether you’re exploring the concrete jungle or hiking solo in Yosemite, doning green can bring you closer to your natural self and prepare you for growth. If green just isn’t your thing, surrounding yourself with earthy tones can strike the same effect. Model, businesswoman, and influencer Ashley Graham symbolizes new beginnings via her look in her 2020 Vogue cover. Clad in a gold Oscar de la Renta caftan, the shadowy green vines frame this ethereal image of Graham.
A study out of Cyprus International University focused on the psychological influence of colour on college students using the colourful surroundings of a campus building. The research into the colour green specifically says that green “gives a sense of refreshment, harmony, and equilibrium,” and claims that people “find cool shades of green and neutral earth tones to be relaxing”, and it has the power to help people adjust to new environments, which is why designers use plants and forms of green in hotel lobbies and offices (Sevinc, Osueke, 2014).
Zara Kaftan (no longer available)
You may have guessed it: yellow brings happiness. The warm glow of a fireside, the creative bursts of energy from a sunrise, or a radiant beam of sunlight; wearing the pastel or strong gold of this colour will literally brighten your every step. In their book Color: Messages and Meaning, American Colour Specialist Leatrice Eiseman dives into the emotional response of colour and colour combinations, writing that “yellow is thought of as joyful, outgoing, open, and friendly.” Psychologically, yellow is the strongest color. (Eiseman, 2006). They also write that since the nineteenth century, yellow ribbons have been used as a sign of hope and optimism. When putting together an outfit, consider canary yellow as delicate and feather soft, while ambered yellows as mellow and warm (Sevinc, Osueke, 2014). Pairing it with a darker piece will work to accentuate that pop of colour and all around cheeriness.
Blue encourages intellectual activity, reason, and logical thought. It is a soothing, calming color, encouraging reflection (Sevinc, Osueke, 2014). Angela Wright, a professor at the University of Sheffield writes in their book The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology, that “nature uses it in the sky and the sea.” Blue surrounds us, whether in the calming waves at the beach or in a clear afternoon sky; so it’s not a leap to say that you should choose to wear blue when you need to alleviate anxiety, calm the nerves, or encourage deep thought. Putting together an outfit? Strong blues stipulate clear thought while lighter, softer blues calm the mind and aid concentration (Sevinc, Osueke, 2014).
Verie Taylor Sunglasses
The best for last, some would say. Red encompasses everything we gravitate to: love, strength, energy, and excitement. We have to hand inspo credit to Taylor Swift, who has been wearing this colour consistently for years, pictured here stunning in a sparkly Stella McCartney top. She went so far as to name one of her critically acclaimed albums after it. Loving him was red she sings on the title track, and there is no better way to describe how emotionally charged this colour is. On the colour spectrum, red boasts the longest wavelength. It has the “property of appearing to be nearer than it is and therefore grabs people’s attention first,” (Sevinc, Osueke, 2014).
When we wear red we are here to conquer. Whether in a lipstick, dress, shoe, or really any other piece, red is the strong splash of colour that separates this day from all others. If you want to make a statement, catch their attention, or add pure adrenaline to your evening, incorporate red into your look.
Regardless of season, consider dressing in colours that you love and that reflect which mindset you need to succeed in whatever you’re up to day to day!