Most women have a signature scent, a perfume that suits their personality and body chemistry perfectly. Mine is Bvlgari pour Femme. My mom’s was L’air du Temps, and whenever I get a whiff of it, I immediately think of her. In fact, I keep a bottle of it in my bathroom cabinet just for that purpose.
Wearing a beautiful perfume can boost your confidence, uplift your mood, and leave a lasting impression. But did you know that color can do the same thing? In fact, there are full semester-long college courses on the psychology of color and color theory, and it’s not just art students that eagerly register for them.
Color can be used to:
• express feelings (art therapy)
• affect your mood and energy level (color psychodynamics)
• aid in healing (chromotherapy and color therapy)
• subtly inform and allure in graphic design and marketing (color psychology)
• increase desired attributes such as focus, calm, alertness, and creativity
When you got dressed this morning, you probably first considered the weather. Then your eyes scanned the many two-inch side view slices of colorful clothing options hanging before you. Perhaps you picked out one or two selections, and then when you held them up to you and looked in the mirror, you may have crinkled your nose and decided that you didn’t “feel” like wearing that today.
Was the color too cheerful? Too drab? Did it have too complex of a color palette or pattern? Were you looking to match your mood, or were you looking to elevate your mood?
Below are some generally agreed upon (in the West) color symbolism and physiological effects that will provide further insight and maybe even get you considering the many ways you can benefit from adding just the right color, in the right way, into your life.
Red: Stimulates physical and mental energies. Stands for power, authority, and life force. Encourages drive, ACTION, self-confidence, and passion. Wear red lipstick or red power pumps when you need a boost of confidence at your next business presentation or social gathering. (Or if red isn’t your best color, wear a red bra or panties. You are the only one who needs to know where that power boost is coming from.)
Orange: Stimulates the solar plexus and revitalizes the lungs while increasing mental alertness. Associated with feelings of cheerfulness and sociability. THE COLOR OF CREATIVITY. Strengthens self-respect, motivation, a deep sense of purpose, and promotes joy. Helps with emotional balance. A great color for an art studio wall to keep your creative mojo running on high. Or use it in an office if you find yourself easily distracted.
Yellow: Stimulates the nerves and increases mental alertness.* Gentle, cheerful, friendly, and bright. The most attention-getting of the colors. Consider wearing yellow when your team or family is discussing big decisions. You will encourage the positive use of personal power and exude OPTIMISM, CLARITY, and WISDOM.
Green: Generates a CALMING and grounding effect because it comes from nature. It is known to help in the healing of colds, hay fever, and liver problems. It is the color of renewal, healing, abundance, and wealth. Surround yourself with green when you are anxious or feel a perfectionistic streak coming on. Going outside and walking barefoot in the grass can have a wonderfully soothing effect. It brings your emotions back into balance and increases your vitality.
Blue: Known for its soothing and healing properties. Depending on the hue and value, the symbolism for “blue” changes. For example, Royal Blue denotes superiority, empathy, TRUST, professionalism, and dependability. Indigo symbolizes wisdom, intuition, spirituality, knowledge, dignity, devotion, and IMAGINATION. While turquoise cultivates feelings of integrity, patience, kindness, truth, and PEACE. Royal Blue is a great choice to wear when going for a job interview at a corporate office. Just don’t forget to add a splash of yellow, orange, red, or hot pink to call attention to yourself, your personality, or just for fun.
Purple: Royalty, indulgence, beauty, DETERMINATION, strength, dignity, and OPPORTUNITY. Go buy a pack of colored pens (right now!) and use the purple one to write down your goals and the daily action steps you will take to reach those goals.
White: Higher consciousness, INSPIRATION, innocence, purity, expansion, goodness, wisdom, humility, creativity, courage, FAITH, and truth. Try lighting a white candle and taking a few deep breaths to center yourself before you begin your work. It sets a calming tone and is a sign to the universe that you are now a receptive channel for creative inspiration. Trust the creative process.
Black: Signifies mystery, career, life’s path, and life’s journey. Said to improve a person’s self-image, provide emotional protection, enhance ASSERTIVENESS and INDEPENDENCE—the color of authority, power, and FINALITY. Therefore you document everything in black and white—black ink on paper. For extra impact, wear a little black dress or black power suit when you sign on the dotted line.
Grey/Silver: Represents helpful people, travel, REFLECTION, and CHANGE. Aids in speaking with eloquence, enhances perseverance, good communication, and insight. It’s no coincidence that when the gray and silver strands begin appearing more noticeably in our hair that it signals the time is approaching when we begin to realize that perhaps our life needs a little sprucing up to be as vibrant, exciting, and fulfilling as we want it to be. Give that beautiful silver hair a shake, jump in a car or plane and go to your happy place and give yourself some time alone or with your besties to figure out what you want the next half of your life to look and feel like. Dream big and follow your heart.
Keep in mind that the intended impact of each base color can be weakened or strengthened by the value of the hue (lighter or darker) and its intensity (brighter or duller). Personal preference and cultural meaning also play a major role. For example, although green may primarily symbolize renewal to you, to someone else, it may stand for luck, wealth, or even greed.
Now, look around your home. What color are the walls and décor in your bedroom? In your studio or office? In the kitchen and dining room? Do you see a pattern forming? Do you tend to gravitate towards certain colors?
Is it time to give your wardrobe and surroundings a color update to better align with who you are today and the goals you want to achieve tomorrow?
What’s your signature color for 2021-2022? I’d love to know.
* In a study by Henner Ertel on the effects of environmental color among schoolchildren in Munich, the school environments painted yellow, yellow-green, orange, and light blue had the most positive effects. The students’ IQ scores increased by twelve points.