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Show Your True Colors: How The Shades You Wear Affect How You Feel

April 26, 2019 | Filed in: Your Closet

Research shows that the colors you wear can impact how you feel and are perceived—so in honor of our colorful new collection, “Take the Stage,” we asked writer Deanna Pai to let us in on the power of dressing in certain shades.

Elementary school was rough for me: I spent recess reading in a corner, received zero heart-stamped notes in return from my crush, and, worst of all, had to suffer eight years wearing a green plaid jumper. Not only was it a dark, forest-green shade that made me look jaundiced, but the plaid did few favors for any of us. (We were already going through puberty here, so we needed all the help we could get.) In high school, I all but sprinted into the arms of gray sweaters and neutral t-shirts, and haven’t really left them since—which explains why my idea of a bold color these days is navy.

But it may be time for me to get over my color trauma. Research shows that the colors you wear can have a big impact on how you feel and, importantly, how others feel about you. Colors can project different emotions and you can use these color-mind connections to make you feel more powerful, appear more confident, or help you calm down in a stressful situation. Whatever you need for a particular situation—a burst of creativity, a sense of sophistication, or an approachable demeanor—color can help you achieve it. All you need to do is say goodbye to grayscale.

For Your Next Negotiation, Wear: Red

The Marilyn dress in adobe.

Red is the color with the most drama, which shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s associated with love, anger, stop signs, and hearts. There’s no hiding from red, whether you’re wearing a ruby, brick, or cherry shade. Research shows that psychologically, it implies power and boldness. And because it’s not exactly known for its subtlety, it can be read as aggressive (or let’s say assertive instead.) Which explains why Nancy Pelosi’s red coat, originally designed, discontinued, and since resurrected by Max Mara, made for a now-iconic photo op after her meeting at the White House.

Try wearing red when you’re negotiating a deal. Even if you’re working out the details of, say, a promotion or new job, wearing red can make you feel more in control and confident. Nervous about an upcoming networking event? Go with red. In the same way that wearing red lipstick can make you feel instantly confident and ready to field whatever emergencies come your way, a red dress can help you feel in charge. To keep it from being a distraction, opt for a darker, more subdued shade, like the Marilyn dress in adobe. Or layer a brighter version, like the Farah shirt in dahlia, under a neutral blazer.

To Be More Approachable, Wear: Yellow

The Candice dress in turmeric.

Psychologically speaking, yellow is considered the friendliest color. Experts say yellow is associated with being cheerful, outgoing, and friendly (as anyone who’s enjoyed the mood-lifting magic of sunshine can attest). Yellow also suggests good self-esteem.

If you want to seem warm and approachable to colleagues and other employees, wear a pop of yellow, like the Candice dress in turmeric. Yellow is also a smart pick if you’re starting a new gig and aiming to make a good impression on your coworkers.  

For a Meeting With Your Boss, Wear: Purple

The Masha dress in deep plum.

Purple has long been associated with royalty and status—not that you need us to tell you that, Meghan Markle fans. It’s also one of the most universally-flattering colors out there, as it’s the perfect balance of blue (a cool shade) and red (a warm color). And when you wear it, purple implies sophistication and luxury. Think of it as another way of not dressing for the job you have, but the job (and title, and salary) you want.

Purple is your best bet if you want to dress to impress, whether it’s your manager or a new client you’re dreaming of working with on the receiving end. (It basically sets a foundation to red’s assertiveness. For example, try wearing purple to a job interview, followed by red once you’ve got the offer and are ironing out your vacation time.) The Masha dress in deep plum keeps your outfit-planning simple so you can focus on other things, like your elevator pitch. Plus, the silhouette is as flattering as the color.

For a Creativity Boost, Wear: Green

The Beverly top in brushstroke.

It’s not easy being green, but wearing it is an entirely different story (despite my elementary school experience). Wearing green is like a therapeutic time-out from your usual hustle. One study discovered that seeing the color green actually can boost your creativity. Plus, the color is known for instilling a sense of internal harmony and calm.  

If you’ve got a big project, need to think outside the box, or have been staring at your cursor blinking on the screen for the last 20 minutes, consider incorporating more green into your wardrobe to help you unleash your creativity. The Beverly top in brushstroke is a rich, saturated tone that plays well with neutrals—without a speck of plaid in sight. Even I can get on board with that.

For a Big Presentation, Wear: Blue

The Hailey dress in cerulean.

Blue already scores points for being the most popular color, full stop, according to a worldwide survey. But beyond that, it also gets an advantage from being a peaceful color in nature—think a serene ocean, clear skies,—and therefore is associated with the same ability to calm, comfort, and soothe. It also indicates a sense of emotional intellect and trustworthiness.

That’ll lend you extra gravitas and authority when you’re giving a presentation or leading a meeting. (Bonus: You may also feel calmer if public speaking makes you anxious.) Plan to wear blue to give you a little more oomph when you’re up there. Try a sky-blue shade like the Hailey dress in cerulean, which is perfect for spring and brightens up any ensemble.

Ready to dress for the emotion you need? Click here to shop our colorful new collection,Take the Stage.”

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Deanna is a writer and editor in New York City. She enjoys reading, hiking, and not moving to the West Coast. Read more of Deanna's posts.

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