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BY: Leatrice Eiseman
It’s true: Changing the colours you wear can actually change your mood -- and how others feel about you. When I was first trying to learn about colour, there wasn’t much research out there. So I decided to do the studies myself and fill the obvious gap.
At the colour institute where I work, we’ve been conducting word-association colour studies for years. We show people a swatch of colour and ask them to identify their immediate feelings upon seeing it. In general, warmer tones make people feel happier than cool tones -- but that’s not always the case. And even an accessory in the right hue, like a bracelet or a handbag, can boost your mood. This is valuable information.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about colours and mood the next time you’re standing in front of your wardrobe:
Reds: Brick -- which has yellow undertones -- is more upbeat than cool blue-red. Interestingly, several studies, including one published in the journal Nature, found that athletes win more events when they wear red rather than blue, possibly because of red’s energising effects.
Oranges and yellows: These hues are universally uplifting -- and not just bright dandelion yellows or icy-pole oranges. Even a more muted shade can give you a sunnier outlook. When I’m feeling down, I’ll reach for something peachy: It’s a cheerful, approachable colour.
Blues: This colour family isn’t generally associated with happiness. But shades at the warmer end of the spectrum -- like periwinkle -- can give you an emotional pick-me-up. Wearing azure, in particular, with its connection to the sea and sky, evokes feelings of fantasy and getaway. Plus, it looks good with almost every skin tone.
I never tell people to avoid certain colours entirely, but simply to be aware of their effects on mood. If you have a fabulous grey or black dress, pin on a sunny yellow brooch or add a sparkly gold belt. You’ll look happier -- and there'll be a greater likelihood you’ll be feeling more cheerful too.
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