Seeing red. Feeling blue. Green with envy. There’s no denying that colors are inextricably linked with mood. Slip on a tailored LBD and you instantly feel chic and sexy or pop open a sunny yellow umbrella on a gloomy day and some of that sunniness will undoubtedly rub off on you.
There are several reasons why colors are able to influence how we feel. “We react on multiple levels of association with colors—there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors,” explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. “You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”
You also have learned certain associations with color, such as red making your heart race since it’s linked with fire trucks and ambulances (in other words, alarm) or yellow having positive association simply because it was the color of your beloved grandmother’s kitchen. “As you get older, you become much more conscious of those learned reactions than the innate ones,” adds Harrington.
Jeannie Mai, who hosts “How Do I Look?” on the Style Network and who recently paired up with Yoplait Light to encourage women to make simple swaps (from giving your clothes a boost of color to swapping out unhealthy eating habits), is a firm believer in the ability of clothes to boost your mood. She calls it “wearapy.” “Therapists treat people with mood disorders,” she says. “I use clothing and texture to enhance people’s moods and their lives. On a bleak day it would be so easy to throw on a pair of jeans and a slouchy sweater, but I throw on something from spring—a green mini skirt, fun fringe booties and a sweater with evening jewelry. That makes an impression on everyone around me, but it also makes me feel cute. And when you feel cute, you feel better. You can channel the different moods you want with different colors.”
Feel like changing your frame of mind for the better? Play around with these colors when picking out your clothes, makeup and accessories:
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