How Colour Affects Your Mood

Saturday, 14 July 2018  |  Kate

Some people never venture out of dark blue, brown, grey and black clothing. Others express themselves fluently and confidently through vivid colour. It's true that your mood affects what you wear, but at the same time what you wear also affects your mood. What's going on?

About colour and mood

Everyone has their own unique relationship with colour. But some of the effects of colour are universal, crossing every culture. Reds and oranges, for example, are universally felt to be warm colours, while blues and greens are almost always thought of as cool. On the other hand there is such a thing as cool reds and warm blues, warm blues being those that err towards the purple side of the blue spectrum rather than the chillier green side.

Some say that colours actually affect your feelings. In their opinion warm colours evoke warm and comforting emotions, but can also bring about anger and hostility. Colours on the blue side of the spectrum are often seen as calming but can also call to mind sadness – and that's probably how Blues music got its name.

Chromotherapy and the placebo effect

The ancient Egyptians and Chinese both enjoyed chromotherapy, using colours to heal the sick and injured. Some of today's holistic and alternative treatments are still based on colour. In their world reds are supposed to stimulate the body and mind and increase blood circulation. Yellow stimulates the nerves and purifies your body. Orange heals the lungs and boosts your energy levels. Blues soothe illnesses and treat pain. And indigo resolves skin problems.

These days we know that waving a colour in front of someone's face is highly unlikely to cure anything at all, but on the other hand the placebo effect is so incredibly strong that if you feel colours will help you heal, you will probably heal faster. The placebo effect is, in fact, so extraordinarily powerful that people who are given sugar pills feel better even when they're told beforehand they're taking a placebo.

The nocebo effect – Proof that colour really can affect our physical selves?

Weirder still - and going a bit off-piste - did you know that the nocebo effect is just as strong as the placebo effect? It works like this. If you truly believe you have been cursed by someone and will die, you stand a good chance of dying. It still happens,in less scientifically-led societies than ours. But the oddest case of all must be the man who was diagnosed with cancer and died a few  weeks later, only for his family to discover he didn't have cancer at all – he'd been mis-diagnosed. If nothing at all can do that to a person, maybe colour really is as powerful as some people think?

What the colour specialists say

Some colour specialists say colours have much the same effect on people as they do in nature. Leatrice Eiseman is an American colour specialist who helps businesses make good colour choices for their premises, logos, uniforms, packaging and so on. Having asked thousands of people about their feelings towards colour throughout her career, she believes our feelings about colour correlate with colours' behaviour in the natural world.

It makes sense. Take blue. We all have extensive experience of blue, predominantly associating it with blue skies, which tends to be a positive thing: there are no storms on the way, and we can work and play outdoors. Maybe that really is why blue tends to make us feel stable and calm. On the other hand it doesn't explain 'the blues', which is why the experts are cautious, saying the things different people feel about colour are generalities: strong patterns rather than absolute facts.

Mood and colour according to Leatrice Eiseman

If you'd like to know what Eiseman says about colour, here's her take on what they mean, what they say about you when you wear them. We think it's fascinating how powerful these very simplistic ideas are, what sense they seem to make, and how true they seem to ring. But it's also easy to see the logical reasoning behind these claims.

Purple, for example, was once to most expensive and rare fabric dye of all, only affordable by the very rich. No wonder we instinctively feel it's a luxurious, royal colour. Purple is also the colour of certain religious ceremonial robes, hence the colour's spiritual connection. You can apply the same kind of thinking to all of the colours below.  

  • Blue – loyalty, stability, tranquility
  • Red – passion, aggression, intensity
  • Yellow – happiness, optimism, youth
  • Green – healing, success, hope
  • Black – power, mystery, professionalism
  • Purple – royalty, spirituality, luxury
  • Brown – stable, natural, reliable
  • White – purity, innocence, cleanliness
  • Grey – neutral, practical, quiet

Do people really see you wearing black and assume you're aggressive, powerful and profesional? It seems unlikely, but the human brain is a remarkable organ, so who knows.

One thing we know for certain...

It's unlikely that colours in themselves affect mood. It's more likely that the way we feel about colours, the way the human race has used them over the centuries, that affects our opinions of them. But we know one thing for certain: as retailers of beautiful, colourful, vivid, unique clothing, we know our clothes make our customers feel magical, confident, bright and happy.

If you'd like to feel wonderful wearing gorgeous, vibrant colours, walk this way. Our stunning collection of unusual, colourful clothes awaits you!


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