Colors and Mood: How the Colors You Wear Affect You

Let the color of your outfit be your mood ring.
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The colors we choose to surround ourselves affect us more than we think. As a society, we associate colors with so many different things - they have meanings beyond simple visual stimulation. Some studies even suggest that we feel colors more than we see them.

You probably know that interior designers use color to create different moods in different rooms - to inspire, energize, or calm. Why not apply that concept to your clothes? Channel some of the power of color into your outfits and see what happens.

Here's a rundown of all the most popular colors, what they signify, and how you can use them to your advantage in your outfits.


Want to get someone's attention? Red is your color! The color red empowers and draws attention toward the wearer. It's also strongly associated with romance and passion, making it a perfect date-night color. But be careful - it's also been said that red stimulates the appetite and makes us hungry for junk food, so wear with caution if you're trying to eat healthier.

All Red Clothing and Accessories

Products: Purse - Aldo, Dress - ASOS, Tank - LuLus, Shorts - H&M, Earrings - J. Crew, Nail Polish - NARS


Like red, orange draws attention and energy, but unlike intense red, it's a little more soothing. While orange is a difficult color for some skin tones to pull off, if you have the coloring to work it, orange will help put you in a positive, energetic mood.

All Orange Clothing and Accessories

Products: T-Shirt - Etsy, Blouse - H&M, Necklace - Madewell, Tote Bag - DSW, Earrings - Etsy, Jeans - 7 For All Mankind


Sunny shades of yellow are the perfect thing to cheer you up on a bad day, so if you're feeling down, wearing yellow could help perk you back up. Yellow is also associated with intelligence and inspiration, so wearing something yellow on the day of your big exam might help you come up with some extra answers.

All Yellow Clothing and Accessories

Products: Fan Earrings - Aldo, Maxi Dress - ASOS, Daisy Earrings - Kate Spade, Bag - Rebecca Minkoff, Scalloped Dress - Charlotte Russe, Flats - DSW


Shades of green are calm and soothing, as well as associated with nature and the outdoors. That's why green is such a popular spring shade. Green is also refreshing and has been found to reduce stress in those who look at it. If you're feeling really overwhelmed during finals week, add green to your outfit and you might feel more relaxed.

All Green Clothes and Accessories

Products: Earrings - Aldo, Blouse - H&M, Heels - LuLus, Dress - LuLus, Skirt - Old Navy, Scarf - Anthropologie


Blue is a color that can be both peaceful and calming as well as cold and standoffish. If you're feeling really stressed out, the color blue can help you feel more relaxed. If you're sad, however, you might want to steer away - the color blue can subconsciously make you feel more "blue." Studies also show that blue can make you more creative, so if you want to channel some genius for your art project, wearing blue might be able to help. It can't hurt, right?

All Blue Clothes and Accessories

Products: Scarf - Bloomingdales, Strapless Dress - Charlotte Russe, Tank Dress - Nordstrom, Heels - DSW, Earrings - BaubleBar, Coat - ASOS, Cami - J.Crew Factory


Regal and sophisticated, purple is associated with creativity and luxury. Like red, purple is a very stimulating color which can boost your energy level when you see it. It's also a color that's sometimes associated with spirituality and intuition, so if you're having trouble making a decision, wear purple and see what comes to you.

All Purple Clothes and Accessories

Products: Sweatshirt - Forever 21, Skirt - LuLus, Eyeshadow - Sephora, Nail Polish - Ulta, Earrings - Kohl's, Dress - Charlotte Russe


Of course we all know pink as the true girly-girl's favorite color, but it's also associated with romance and happiness. Pink is very calming, so don't wear it if you need tons of energy. Because of its romance association, pink is a good choice for a date. You can also wear it anytime you're a little bummed out for a boost. Of course, if you personally hate pink, then that won't work for you.

All Pink Clothes and Accessories

Products: Floral Top - Guess Factory, Sunglasses - Gap, Tote Bag - Aldo, Bikini - Target, Bow Heels - DSW, Satin Top - ASOS, Handbag - Kate Spade


Missing summer on a cold day? Wear white! It reflects light and reminds us of sunnier days. It's also associated with peace, innocence, simplicity, and cleanliness. In Japan, white carnations mean death - who knew? Wear white when you want to bring out any other colors you're wearing - it livens up anything you pair with it.

all white clothes and accessories

Products: Tank Top - Old Navy, Jeans - American Eagle, Sandals - Charlotte Russe, Shirt - Madewell, Skirt - Revolve


If you're going for a promotion at work or interviewing for a new job, you might want to wear black - it signifies power, seriousness, authority, and responsibility, all qualities your boss is likely looking for. Outside the office, black is also a color that will give you some rocker-chick edge. If you're shy but want to feel like a badass one day, some black nail polish should do the trick!

All Black Clothes and Accessories

Products: Shirtdress - LuLus, Skirt - Charlotte Russe, Earrings - Kohl's, Nail Polish - Chanel, Shorts - Forever 21, Sleeveless Turtleneck - Banana Republic

What do you think?

These are just some ideas for new ways to think about color in your wardrobe - obviously they aren't steadfast guidelines that you should plan your outfits around every day.

What do the colors above mean to you? Does your mood affect the colors you wear? What do you think about the correlation between colors and mood? Leave a comment and let us all know your thoughts.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2009; it was completely updated and revamped in 2018 by Sharon with new photos, outfit sets, and information.

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