Fashion + Psychology

The World Explained In Color

Do you ever find yourself wanting to wear a certain color as soon as you wake up? Are you ever affected by a colleague at work wearing a bright hue like red? Or do you consider yourself totally impartial to color, much like Andy Sachs is to cerulean blue from the movie The Devil Wears Prada?

According to an overwhelming array of psychological studies, we are all affected by the color we choose to wear in addition to how we perceive others. There are even socially accepted colors to wear to a wedding, funeral or a job interview. And how we choose to interpret those social norms is a reflection upon us in return. 

Even uniforms are designed in certain colors. Doctors wear white for cleanliness and purity, while engineers wear blue as a symbol of trust and responsibility. Politicians wear light blue shirts with rolled-up sleeves on campaign trails to assimilate themselves to the “regular average American”, but conversely might add a red tie to make themselves appear more assertive, bold and powerful.

What’s Your Go-To Hue?

To be completely transparent, black is my go-to color. Maybe that’s because I work in New York or perhaps it’s an easy color to wear (especially when you get to the end of the work week)?

When I have no idea what to wear, I fall to black. Possibly because it’s an armor of sorts and I’m not feeling strong enough to wear my own feelings out into the world for that day. In the past, black was primarily seen as the color of mourning. However, today it represents strength, power, sophistication and authority. Hence, why it is a favorite of mine. 

Black was not always my go-to color. When I was at college in Charleston, SC, I wore literal rainbows of color. A checkered pattern with blue, purple, yellow and orange? Yes, please. Mixing a purple sweater with yellow pants? Why not? It felt more socially acceptable to wear bright colors in those beachy college days. Maybe because I was still trying to find myself or I had less to lose in a non-corporate environment.

Even in high school, we choose our friends and/or group of friends based on the colors they wear. If you’re into goth culture, you tend to wear all black whereas if you’re into sports, you might wear the official school color. And of course, we can’t forget one of our favorite cult movie classics, Mean Girls: “on Wednesdays, we wear pink!”

Let Them Guide The Way…

Are we choosing color or is color choosing us? What’s the difference between picking a color that you really want to wear or picking a color because you want to belong? It’s interesting to see how others respond to our color choices in clothing.

Some days I’ll get a lot of smiles from passersby. On other days, it’s primarily a stare. And how does that affect us conversely in return? When I’m at the office, I want to the focus to be on my work and not what I’m wearing. However, when I’m going to a party, I’ll definitely choose something more fun that prompts conversation.

Why is color so scary sometimes? Is it just me or do you feel like if you choose the wrong hue the whole day is shot? I recently stumbled upon the “Color My Closet” challenge on Instagram: a newish clothing challenge started by blogger Chloe Alysse in February 13, 2019, and I thought to myself, ‘wow that’s so cool AND brave’.

Chloe started it up after a particularly uninspiring dreary winter to resurface color into her everyday wardrobe. For those who opt to join in, the challenge is to wear a new color each day (starts with pink, red, yellow, orange…and goes down the line), and you make an outfit from your existing closet to represent the day.

I think this is an interesting way to challenge our socially accepted norms of color connotations and get your feet wet if you’re looking for a palette cleanse. It’s also interesting to see how people incorporate color into their wardrobe. Some go big by wearing a chunky sweater, while others choose a minimalist route and go with a small bright belt instead.

How does colour make you feel?

One of my biggest questions about color: does knowing what color to wear to an event make you feel safer or inhibited? We all know white is the chosen color to wear on your wedding day, but do you feel constrained by this societal norm?

For me, finding the right wedding dress was a terrifying decision. I’m fairly traditional when it comes to fashion, so my instinct was to stick with white on my day of matrimony. But I still felt a need to make my wedding garb different somehow. A creative twist on a classic, you might say.

In the end, I decided to go with the conventional white wedding dress but added a nude underlay for added dimension and paired it with a dramatic Egyptian-inspired beaded necklace (still in white, of course). 

I feel oddly inspired by color connotations. I feel like as long as I know what color to wear to an event, it allows me to be more creative in the style that I’m wearing. For example, when I’m headed to a friend’s wedding, I usually go for something in a dark or muted hue and then dress it up with small colorful accessories.

My reason for going this route? I want the bride or groom-bride to be the center of attention, not me. It’s almost as if color acts as a social guide in these situations…

The Future Looks Bright

I leave you with this: let color guide your life and clothing choices in the most organic way possible. We cannot change the past, but we can affect societal norms and how those affect our outfit color decisions. We can’t change the expectations of others or how they will react to us, but we can all find our own creativity within the existing color wheel. And on a day when you’re feeling bold, choose a random color and see how it affects your mood and the world around you…

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