Do you feel anxious in a yellow room? Does the colour blue make you feel calm and relaxed? Artists, marketers, and designers have long understood how colour can dramatically affect a person’s mood, feelings, and emotions. It is a super powerful communication tool, and it can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even cause physiological reactions.
For this reason, colour is one of the most important tools you can use in business, and this includes the colour of your attire!
While you’re already aware of the impact of colour on your own image, what you may not be as familiar with is the psychological impact your choice of colour in your clothing can have on the people you meet with throughout the day.
By wearing certain colours in certain situations, you can improve your non-verbal communication, underscore your message, and energize or pacify your bosses, colleagues, clients, and customers, and generally better control the context of your communication to achieve an outcome you desire.
Colour psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Most commonly, colour is used to affect us in marketing, decorating, and dress. It can also induce perceptions that are not as obvious, such as the taste of food or our overall appetite. Smart restaurateurs have figured out that certain colours can make us hungrier than others, and decorate their restaurants accordingly, so that we stay there longer and spend more money.
Red is so powerful. If I had my eyes closed and you were standing next to me wearing a red jacket, I would be able to feel that it is red. – Tom Ford
Colour can be so strong a factor that it is even used as placebos in medicine by having the colour of pills be certain colours to influence how a person feels after taking them. Certain colours have also been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.
When you see colour, information is transmitted out of your eye and into your brain’s ventral stream, which is responsible for colour perception. From here, associations are made with the individual colours and the relevant emotions are triggered. Your feelings about colour are deeply personal and rooted in your own experience or culture.
People using colour psychology in their attire is nothing new. Police, for example, have long worn blue uniforms to not only project a message of authority and trust to the communities they serve, but also because blue can produce a calming effect that is frequently necessary in police work.
Doctors wearing white coats is another example of using colour psychology in attire. White symbolizes hygiene and cleanliness, both of which hospitals and doctors want to communicate to their patients.
Politicians like to wear red ties, because they want to seem decisive, bold, assertive, and powerful to their constituents and other voters (especially when they are being accused of flip-flopping), all qualities of which can be delivered by red.
The Meaning Of Colour
In order to master the science of colour psychology, it is important to have an understanding of what colours mean and what wearing them in your attire says to people.
There are four psychological primary colours – red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between these three. The psychological properties of the eleven basic colours are as follows:
Again, your own individual feelings about colour are personal and they’re deeply rooted within your own experience and culture.
While perceptions of colour are somewhat subjective, there are some colour effects that have universal meaning. Colours in the red area of the colour spectrum are known as warm colours and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colours evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colours on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colours and include blue, purple and green. These colours are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
Recommended Colour Palettes
So, what do your colour selections say about you today? Do they empower your message? Or do they undermine it?