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How The Colors You Wear Affect Your Mood

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With another month of self-isolation measures in place, feelings of loneliness, stress, and uncertainty are beginning to take hold. Aside from staying active, communicating with loved ones, and maintaining a normal schedule, there's a lot to be said for actually getting dressed. The good news is that wearing certain colors can boost your mood. And since wearing bold colors around the house has literally no downsides — save perhaps a raised eyebrow from your quarantine crew — why not give it a try?

The basic tenet of color psychology, the study of how we respond to colors, is a combination of visual response and sociological priming. As noted in Psychology Today, culture, age, and gender play a huge role in how you perceive and respond to color. But while there are clearly sociological influences on how colors make us feel, there is also some research to suggest shared, intrinsic responses to broad groups of color. Generally speaking, colors like reds, oranges and yellows evoke "hot" emotions ranging from warmth and comfort to anger and hostility. Opposite shades like blues, greens, and purples evoke "cool" emotions like tranquility and sadness.

A sauna using blue light chromatherapy via Shutterstock

The concept behind chromotherapy, an approach which is derived from the practices of ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures, maintains that the frequency of different colors can benefit the body on a molecular level, resulting in health and harmony. This energy-based interpretation, while not hugely supported by concrete scientific research, has been adopted by more holistic approaches to wellness. Sauna companies, like Sunlighten, utilize a wide range of shades for their purported cleansing benefits, and make a convincing argument to anyone who has suffered from seasonal affective disorder. There are also workout studios, like M/Body in Los Angeles, that utilize colored lightbulbs during classes to channel the benefits of chromotherapy. Founder Marnie Alton, who has been using chromotherapy in the studio for five years, says over email, "Each unique light spectrum (color) works on a specific energy point to address a different need. My favorite is violet, it calms the nervous system and promotes a sense of balance which I think is especially important for all of us, now more than ever.”

Whether visual exposure to different colors really elicits behavioral changes lacks substantial scientific evidence, but some does exist. One study showed an exposure to red light "enhances the force and velocity of motor output," while another demonstrated the color of placebo pills influenced their perceived efficiency.

Even if a light bath isn't available to you, you can harness colors to help you reset your mood. It may be small, but if the clothing you wear can provide a little extra energy as you go about your day, it's worth considering. At the very least, making a new purchase or hanging through the house in a citrus hue from head to toe can't hurt. After all, you can agree that gray is the official color of boredom.

Mood-Boosting Colors To Wear: Yellow

Associated with feelings of positivity and purification, it's the perfect companion to grey or denim, and quite literally evokes the joy of bright sunshine.

Mood-Boosting Colors To Wear: Pink

The ultra-feminine hue is believed to embody qualities of cleansing and strength. What feels more powerful than a monochromatic fuchsia ensemble?

Mood-Boosting Colors To Wear: Red

The hue, which is historically synonymous with power, is associated with vigor and stimulation. Throw it on when you need a little extra pep in your step.

Mood-Boosting Colors: Blue

The restful shade is thought to elicit feelings of relaxation and calm, which tracks if you've ever looked out at a body of water and felt at peace.

Mood-Boosting Colors: Green

The hue most associated with vibrancy in nature is believe to encourage harmony and regeneration. Opt for a kelly green or a more subtle shade of celery.

Mood-Boosting Colors: Violet

Reach for violet pieces to tap into the color's mediative and soothing benefits. It's surprisingly versatile and looks great with bold colors like yellow as much as it works with neutrals like navy and white.