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Science says it can. From femininity and masculinity to moods and cravings, the hues you choose have the power to evoke every type of feeling.
Colour plays a significant role in how we interact with the world around us. Particular hues tell us to go, to stop, and to wait. When we get dressed in the morning, we are also communicating a certain message.
What we choose to wear can tell an intricate story of how we self-identify, and how we wish to be received by others.
Humans have been fascinated by the inherent yet subliminal links between colour and psychological function for millennia.
From way back in the late 1800s with Goethe’s Theory of Colours – where he links colour categories to emotional responses – all the way to the modern codification of colour used to exemplify status (think: the regality of crimson, the austerity of black) we can deduce that the colour of our outfits has the potential to act as a cognitive mood enhancer.
In a physical sense, science tells us that colours can change our heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
When it comes to our emotions, statistics in the psychology of colour are often laden with anecdotal hunches, forced objectivity, and westernised persuasion.
As a symbol deeply entwined in cultural rites and rituals; understanding the social-political universality of colour requires both context and nuance.
The concept of Dopamine Dressing - choosing clothing that lifts or alters your mood by sending messages to neurons in your brain that trigger a boost of dopamine, also known as the "happy hormone" - is not new by any stretch.
But as the cloud of uncertainty of the pandemic slowly lifts, and following two years of spending our days in fleecy marle and exercise leggings - we have flung ourselves back into dressing for the world outside the confines of home and supermarket; mood boosting sartorial choices are everywhere, from fashion week to the local salon where nail art is popping.
In this new era, perhaps you wish to join us in taking a mindful approach to the hues of your clothing.
Let’s get dressed, shall we?
So, first thing’s first: what colours work for you on an emotional level? Are you drawn to warm or cool, vibrant or muted? Try taking a gaze into your closet and notice what feelings come to the surface.
Aquatic and verdant hues of blues and greens are often referred to as ‘cool’ colours; said to induce a state of tranquility and calm.
On the warmer side of the spectrum, earthy, autumnal tones of red, orange, and yellow are said to invoke a sense of vitality and joy.
To get you started on your mood hue journey, we’ve collated a few pointers to help you find your feet.
As hue with significant prominence in nature, on the body, and in society, we can all agree that red brings out strong emotions.
Wear it when you want to go bold, stand out in a crowd/on Zoom, or make a memorable impression (and perhaps avoid it when you want to try and get out of a parking ticket.)
As a hue renowned for absorbing all light on the colour spectrum, there is something deeply poetic about an all-black ensemble when you want to be perceived as powerful and authoritative.
All while rendering the risk of a coffee spill as much less treacherous – something your crisp whites could never say.
A deeply refreshing and organic hue, green takes us back to nature.
For the days when you’re yearning for a sense of harmony and peace (or to escape from your to-do list into a wild field of grass,) opt for timeless khaki knit or a juniper hoodie to balance your mind, body, and soul.
Although culturally polarising and political, in essence, pink is fresh, playful, and ultra-feminine.
The perfect hue to wear when you’re looking to connect, charm, or inspire; or explain why you ‘didn’t get around to it’ at your next book club catchup.
Historically regarded as evoking feelings of passivity and lethargy, we find great comfort in the simplicity of this gentle hue.
Effortlessly harmonious with almost everything in your wardrobe, and exceptionally light; it is versatile and trans seasonal.
Deeper shades of blue tend to shy away from peace and tranquility towards authority, dominance, and intelligence – making it the perfect sartorial armour for pitching to your partner that you simply must adopt a second German Shepard (or any other instance where you would like to exude confidence and trust.)
Like any mindful practice, contending with the role colour plays on your mood is all about creating space for small, intimate moments to self-care.
So, ask yourself – what hue are you in the mood for today?
Elliot, A. (2015). Color and psychological functioning: a review of theoretical and empirical work. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4383146/