Colors and Mood: How the Colors You Wear Affect You

(And how to use the power of color to change your life.)

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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.

Red

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: Dress – Lulu’s, Sneakers – Keds (Zappos), Blouse – ASOS, Crossbody Bag – Guess, Heels – Madden Girl (Macy’s), Skirt – Revolve

Orange

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.

Orange clothes and accessories

Products: Shorts – Romwe, Crossbody Bag – Arcadia (TJMaxx), Dress – Leith (Nordstrom), Pashmina – Gearonic TM (Amazon), Top – Forever 21, Jelly Sandals – Coach

Yellow

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.

Yellow.

Products: Heels – Worthington (JCPenney), Skirt – American Apparel, Earrings – Aldo, Shirt – Banana Republic, Loafers – Klub Nico, Dress – Lulu’s

Green

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.

Green can be another tricky color to pull off, so be sure to experiment until you feel comfortable!

If you’re feeling really overwhelmed during finals week, add green to your outfit and you might feel more relaxed.

All green clothing and accessories

Products: Blouse – Modcloth, Headband – Lele Sadoughi, Dress – ASOS, Heels – Steve Madden (DSW), Shorts – J.Crew, Handbag – Botkier

Blue

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?

Blue.

Products: Dress – ASOS, Shoes – Lulu’s, Top – Chicwish, Skirt – J.Crew Factory, Bag – Kate Spade (Shopbop), Dress – Loft

Purple

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.

Purple.

Products: Blouse – Anthropologie, Handbag – Buddy Supplies (Amazon), Dress – Lulu’s, Heels – Steve Madden (DSW), Skirt – Little Mistress (ASOS), Pants – 7 For All Mankind

Pink

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.

Pink.

Products: Skirt – J.Crew Factory, Tote Bag – Ted Baker, Dress – Gal Meets Glam, Blouse – Neiman Marcus Last Call, Heels – Sam Edelman (DSW), Dress – Adrianna Papell (Macy’s)

White

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.

White.

Products: Shorts – Gap Factory, Sneakers – Keds x Kate Spade, Top – Express, Dress – Lulu’s, Crossbody Bag – French Connection (Nordstrom Rack), Skirt – Lou & Grey

Black

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!

Black.

Products: Headband – Banana Republic, Blouse – ASOS, Heels – Banana Republic, Dress – Charles Henry (Nordstrom), Handbag – Ted Baker, Skirt – DKNY (Macy’s)

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 2019 with new photos, outfit sets, and information.

30 thoughts on “Colors and Mood: How the Colors You Wear Affect You”

  1. Great post! Thanks!

    I’d love to see a post about working in retail. I am really hoping to get a job in retail this summer and would appreciate any advice you might be able to offer. I have no experience in working retail but I am eager to learn! Interviewing tips (what to say and wear), who to contact (and how often!) after turning in the application, and how to an excellent job once hired would be incredibly helpful. I would appreciate any advice! 🙂

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  2. viva – ooh lovely dress, I’m sure I’ve seen pix of Kate Moss in something similar – if you have similar colouring then you could look up what she wore with it. If you have dark skin then you could go for a stronger contrast eg turquoise coloured accessories, shoes etc.

    Silver might work if it was chrome and a bit spiky or studded, to add a sort of tougher contrast edge to the very floaty dress.

    I’d always say use fewer rather than too many accessories – one stunning one is great eg a fabulous choker but no bracelets & just one cocktail ring.

    Actually even if you are paler I’m liking the bright turquoise blue idea. More high-fashion than plain black accessories, unless you go for a haute goth-y look for the rest of the accessories e.g. jet choker, black strappy very high platform sandals (e.g. the Louboutin copies), black cocktail ring, black feathered bag or feathered shoulder cape. Black nail polish (short nails) and heavy black smoky or winged eyeliner, probably pale/nude mouth.

    Hope that’s a few useful ideas! would love to see you post a polyvore set of what you decide on!

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  3. I personalty like MyCloset ( app) by Mamoru Tokashiki. to manage my closet. From now own I will manage my closet by the color : ) Will get my mood on the go : )))) Great article! Thank you.

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  4. Thanks for such informative article on colors. I always feel that I would pick colors by what my mood is. And I could see my mood and the color associated in this article. Good information about colors. Generally I would choose dark colors when I am kind of low energy and I pick bright and light colors when I am full of energy. I am not sure, If I choose a bright and light color on my down day would help me anyway?

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  5. Aaaaarghhh! I was interested in this subject and saw here it’s for chicks! I don’t own dresses or handbags, I’m alpha male, not transexual! Haaaahaahah!

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  6. Hi Zephyr, I’m curious to hear what you think about brown — that’s my usual staple neutral (the way most people wear black, and some wear gray) and I’m totally addicted. It’s so soft and vaguely hippie! But lately people have been mentioning that it doesn’t seem so professional. Should I not be wearing it to interviews/work? What kind of emotions/image does it connote? I’m so curious, the answers could have a big effect on my whole wardrobe!

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  7. Hi! I love all the post – its so true about colours and mood! I was wondering if I could have some advice. I’m wearing a yellow dress to prom but I have no idea what colour accessories to wear. Shoes are my biggest issue – both style and colour. I’ve looked at white and silver but they seem a bit tacky. I live in the UK and my prom is in June – any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you 😛

    btw – this is the dress http://www.monsoon.co.uk/content/ebiz/monsoon/invt/45030736/45030736_F_m1.jpg

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  8. I love wearing green, but I realised that I don’t have many red things. I think this is a great post and is inspiring me to wear other colours.

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  9. This post is so interesting! I always like to think about colors in my wardrobe and its always interest to read about how color can affect you! I normally hate purple but I wore a purple shirt the other day just to try it out and it is definately a stimulating color, everyone noticed!

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  10. I particularly adore the layout of this blog post and the photos used in the examples. I love all colors and need to incorporate more bright and flirty colors into my wardrobe. This is a BIG help, especially with finals around the corner, I’ll be sure to sport some YELLOW !

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  11. I totally own a knockoff of that pink bag. I call it my Rory Gilmore bag n_n.

    I really liked this post.

    I feel a lot prettier when I wear red and when I wear a black and white ensemble I feel like I can totally kick ass at class and at presentations. I don’t normally wear yellow, but I’m going to give it a try during finals week.

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  12. I find this to be totally true.

    I wear a lot of black and my friends always say I’m the responsible one.

    I totally want to wear more yellow know.

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  13. AWESOME! Totally loved this post. Definitely got me inspired. I’ve got a big 3 day conference coming up, with a bunch of different events. Now I know what outfits to buy, for the different moods I want to portray. =)

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  14. I love the pink top from H&M. It’s so cute!

    Good point about red stimulating appetite, and to add to it, I think I read somewhere that this is why a lot of fast food restaurants have a lot of red–to get the customers to eat more, eat faster, and leave faster.

    Reply

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