When we dress to impress, the colours of our clothing might say more about who we are than the clothes themselves. That’s because we’re subconsciously drawn to the specific shades that reflect our moods. But when we use colours in our clothing intentionally, they can actually make us happier, more confident – and even healthier.
“Our choice of colour comes from the theory, or our understanding of what that colour represents, but also our feelings,” says Madrid-based image and colour consultant, Edith Chan. “When we are choosing colours to wear, it’s good to consider our skin tone, our natural colouring, and what our own colour palette is. But sometimes we are just drawn to wearing a specific colour because it makes us feel great at that moment”.
Research backs this up. For example, studies show that the colour yellow increases the production of serotonin in the brain, thus lifting the moods of the wearer and those around them. The sunshine shade is certainly not a colour everyone can carry but if it helps you crack a smile, why wouldn’t you want to wear it on a day when you’re feeling happy – or need to.
Similarly, multiple studies around the colour red show that it’s a hue believed to signify boldness, power, and passion. One further study published in the journal PLOS One, reveals that it’s a colour most readily associated with anger, but in clothing, this might represent a more “don’t mess with me” attitude than anything else.
Colour and your workplace
But it’s not just your feelings that get caught up in your decisions around the colour of your daily wardrobe choices. Chan, whose expertise in hair, beauty and personal colour consulting and styling has left her with a diverse client roll-call that ranges from the catwalk to the law courts, says that culture and considering your environment can get thrown into the mix too. She notes that people working in a corporate environment may turn to very different clothing colours to give them the confidence they need to get through their day depending on where they live.
“In America and the UK, there’s a tendency to go for more cautious colours like navy blue, black or grey,” claims Chan. “While in Spain, because there’s a greater emphasis on lifestyle and the culture is different, more relaxed, you’ll see brighter colour palettes chosen in corporate environments or even more conservative environments like law”.
What role you play in your job and workplace is also of consequence. Chan says, “If you are at a lower level or hold a junior position, you may just follow tradition and wear more muted colours so you don’t stand out so much. But if you are in a higher, more senior position you have more confidence to wear fresher, bolder colours, and it’s more acceptable. The brighter, more creative colours show your personality, but also your power.”
Yet while the colours of our clothing signal our moods, our personality and even where we are in our workplace pecking order, Chan also claims that colours can highlight or hide aspects of our physical health.
What colour says about your wellbeing
Chan’s own grandfather was a practitioner of Chinese medicine so she grew up using natural remedies to maintain inner and outer beauty. Today she believes that an individual’s wellbeing is wholly connected to their appearance and that colour can affect that appearance.
“What you eat, how you treat your body, all of this affects your skin, your eyes, the condition of your hair”, she says. “And this can also affect the colours you wear.
“The fundamentals of what colours are right for you are always there,” she explains. “But there are subtle changes. For example, if you’re not in a good frame of mind, you’re not treating yourself well, then your skin is stressed, your eyes are dull and your lips become dry. When your lips are dry they also become darker. So, you can still wear the colours that look good on you but maybe there are changes that you can’t see. If your skin isn’t radiant, the softer, muted tones can leave you looking tired and washed out. Colour is light, after all, and if your skin, your eyes, your lips needs brightening up then you use colour to help you achieve that because it reflects light”.
This enhancement of your skin and overall appearance along with the positive lift to your mood that a bright colour can provide is why it’s so important to consider the colour of the clothing you wear. “When we wear colours that look good on us and make us feel great we are happier and we perform better in our life, in our jobs,” says Chan. “It makes us confident. We feel it and other people feel it – so we are not just influencing how we see ourselves, but how others see us too”.
So have a look through your wardrobe today and see whether you have the colours of clothing that make you feel happy, feel confident and full of energy! And maybe, just, maybe it’s time to chuck that old go-to grey sweater that you’ve had for decades and replace it with something fresh, fabulous and – yeah – colourful!