How The Colors You Wear Affect Your Mood

Written by: Zuzanna Sato



Time to read 9 min

How The Colors You Wear Affect Your Mood ?

“Colors are the mother tongue of the subconscious.” Carl Jung

As a fashion designer I am all about vibrant colors, patterns, and embellishments.

I choose this kind of design because such clothes make me feel happy.

You can read more about how the lack of color I experienced growing up in communist Poland affected my love for anything vibrant and bright in my bio.

The connection between the clothes we wear and how we feel is fascinating for me, not only because of what I do now, but also because I am a trained psychologist, and, before moving to Japan, I used to work in the field of art therapy.

I know for a fact that clothes and colors affect us profoundly, and in this article, I would like to explain how it happens so you can use it to positively influence your mood.

So, how the colors you wear affect your mood?

The colors we wear affect our mood due to a powerful, scientifically proven connection between the particular color and our physical or emotional response to it.

These responses are the result of our evolution, culture and personal experience.

The science that explains the connection between mood and color is called Color Psychology.

Let's have a look at what this science has to say about how the colors you wear influence your emotions.

Can the colors you wear affect your mood?

What is the Psychology Behind Colors?

What is the Psychology Behind Colors?

Color in fashion can affect emotions, self-esteem and identity.

But how does it happen?

Here are the 6 important principles or color psychology:

(No time to read?😊 Just scroll down to our infographic summary below!)

1. Color carries specific meanings:

Each color is associated with specific thing or feeling. Colors can "speak to us" because of these links and connections.

How are these associations formed?

2. Color associations originate from our biology, culture and our personal experiences.

Biologically, our brains may have innate responses to colors based on evolutionary factors, such as, for example, associating bright red with danger due to its similarity to warning signs in nature.

We also learn from cultural symbols and societal norms that certain colors represent specific emotions or concepts, like for example black color being associated with mourning in the West.

Additionally, personal experiences and interactions with colors further solidify these associations.

For example, we see red in stop signs, so we learn it means danger.

Also, when we receive a gift wrapped in a certain color, we might feel happy or excited when we see that color again.

Together, these factors (biology, culture and personal experience) shape our understanding and emotional reactions to different colors.

3. Seeing a color triggers its immediate evaluation:

When we see a color, we automatically react or evaluate it.

We don't need to stop and think about what it means to us; our brains do it automatically.

We process color information quickly because it's more efficient from an evolutionary standpoint.

In the past, quick reactions to environmental cues, like colors, were crucial for survival.

For example, spotting ripe fruit or identifying potential dangers helped our ancestors stay safe and find food.

So, our brains have evolved to rapidly evaluate colors to react swiftly in various situations, without needing time to consciously think about it.

4. Color influences us automatically:

Colors affect our bodies by bypassing our voluntary decisions.

For example, seeing red might increase our heart rate or blood pressure, obviously without us deciding to do so.

Our reactions to colors happen without us having to consciously process them.

Again, this is linked to evolution and survival reasons mentioned above.

5. This evaluation of color leads to our action/reaction:

Certain colors are linked with certain actions or behaviors.

Here are some examples:

In a hospital, the use of calming pastel colors in patient rooms can promote feelings of comfort and healing. 

Seeing a red traffic light tells us to stop, while a green light means we can go.

A speaker wearing a red tie during a presentation, might appear more authoritative and commanding to the audience.

Also think about how the drinks are often packaged in blue containers that may subconsciously entice us to purchase them on a hot day, as the color blue is associated with coolness and refreshment.

These associations with colors influence our responses or actions on both conscious and unconscious level.

6. Context is important:

How we react to a color can depend on the situation or environment.

For example, we might feel differently about seeing red in a romantic setting compared to seeing it in a work environment.

Color Psycholgy Summary

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Color Psychology Chart. Color psychology infographic.

(Source: Whitfield TW, Wiltshire TJ (November 1990). "Color psychology: a critical review". Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs.

Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A. (2007). "Color and Psychological Functioning". Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(5), 250-254.

Can the colors you wear affect your mood?

Can the colors you wear affect your mood?

“Psychologists hold the belief that the color of apparel can have an impact on emotional states and stress levels. The presence of color has the potential to augment an individual's perception of their environment.” (Source: Edwards, Vanessa Van (2013-12-16). "Color Psychology: What Colors Should You Wear and Why".

So are we really able to influence our mood and emotional state with the colors of our clothes? Yes!

As mentioned above, there's a ton of research into how color affects our emotions, and marketers, public relations specialists, and fashion brands all use this knowledge to influence our choices.

And those corporations aren't just playing around; they wouldn't invest thousands of dollars in using color psychology if it didn't work!

But here's the good news: it's not only the giant companies that can benefit from using colors to affect our emotions - you can too!

And there's even a hot fashion trend that does exactly that - Dopamine Dressing!

It's based on the idea that the styles, textures, and colors of the clothes we wear have the ability to boost our mood.

Dopamine Dressing is all about using fashion to make us feel good and confident regardless of mainstream trends.

It's also been called 'dressing for joy'!

I absolutely love the idea, and I'm really excited that Dopamine Dressing has been rising in popularity for the last couple of years.

If you want to find out more about Dopamine Dressing, and how to use styles, textures, and colors of the clothes we wear to boost your mood, click here.

What colors affect what emotions when you wear them?

What colors affect what emotions when you wear them?

So, let's break down how different colors you wear are connected with different emotions.

As a general rule, warm colors are typically stimulating, while cool colors are considered calming.

Warm colors:

⦁ Red: Typically energizing, however, depending on the person, red can negatively trigger those who are stressed or anxious.

⦁ Yellow: Elevates mood, often indicates happiness and an optimistic outlook.

⦁ Orange: Similarly to yellow, Orange can make people happy and cheerful.

Sidenote: Orange is also thought to stimulate appetite and mental activity.

Cool colors:

⦁ Blue: Calming. This color is often used in the treatment of depression, pain and insomnia.

⦁ Green: The “color of nature”. Known to relieve stress and offer relaxation.

⦁ Purple: The color of royalty. Purple signifies power, wisdom, spirituality, creativity and imagination.

Neutral colors:

⦁ White: Clean, pure, innocent, simple, hopeful and clarifying.

⦁ Gray: “a color of compromise”, transitive, it can communicate feelings of emotional stability, tranquility, balance and experience. Gray is often used to emphasize other colors.

⦁ Black: Black is also associated with power, authority, control, depth, complexity and mystery.

However, it is important to note that individual reactions to the color black are quite varied, this relates back to the sixth principle of color psychology: Color meaning and effect also has to do with context.

⦁ Beige/Tan/Camel: Perhaps the poster child of “neutral colors”, beige is a relaxing, comforting, elegant, warm and dependable color.

Do people react to clothes colors in the same way?

Of course, we are each unique, so would a particular color have the same effect on everyone?

Well, yes and no.

Although there seem to be certain universal perceptions of color, ultimately, it is often based on the individual.

According to many studies about people's favorite colors, blue is the number one choice, followed by green, purple, and red.

It is thought that the reason blue and green are the top choices is because, evolutionarily, these colors symbolized oxygen, water and nature.

We are attracted to these colors because we know those things contribute to and sustain life.

Even the hue, saturation and brightness of a particular color can influence the way we feel!

So, even if we are able to influence our mood and emotional state with the colors of our clothes, the emotions evoked will probably vary from person to person.

For example, my best friend Ania loves neutrals like black, gray, white and beige.

She tells me those colors make her feel polished, put-together, classic and confident–and they generally go well together so she doesn't have to put too much thought into an outfit.

I think SHE looks amazing in neutral, but on the other hand, when I try to wear such colors I feel I look bland and boring.

People choose to wear certain colors for many different reasons, and certainly not all of them are connected to the psychology of colors.

They may want to use color to express themselves, their identity and emotions.

A person may love to wear blue; because it makes them feel calm and relaxed, or because it matches their eyes; they get a lot of compliments when they wear it, and that makes them feel good.

My favorite “color” is purple, therefore shades like mulberry, raspberry, violet, lilac, mauve, periwinkle (ok, there’s some blue in that one too), rose (what can I say? As a die-hard girlie-girl I’m a sucker for various shades of pink)

These all speak to me as well as their darker purple counterparts like grape, plum, eggplant, wine and raisin.

Do I feel royal (no), powerful (not so much, black does that for me), wise, creative and imaginative when I wear purple?

Definitely wise, creative and imaginative–and coincidentally those are all qualities that I like to think I possess in spades! 😉

So, as you can see, how a particular color makes us feel as individuals, might not agree with what the research (which is a kind of generalization) say. 

How Clothes and Their Color Influence Your Mood - Conclusion

So yes, we can influence our mood and emotional state with the colors we wear, just as the shape, design, and cut of our clothes influence how we feel while wearing a certain piece.

But while each color generally evokes certain feelings, thoughts or moods, what really matters is how the colors and outfits we wear make us feel.

So I challenge you to wear a color that maybe you normally wouldn’t to see if it changes your state of mind.💪

For example when you are feeling “blue” (see what I did there) perhaps reach for that bright yellow coat or that juicy orange handbag to see if it lifts your mood and remember, if it doesn’t – you can always change your clothes!😄

So, what are your favorite colors?

How do they make you feel?

Is there any color you would not wear even for a million bucks? (for me: beige close to my face!)

I would love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a comment down below.

Thank you for reading and I hope you visit me again!


Zuzanna Sato,  blog author, fashion designer
Image from DressYourColor

Zuzanna Sato, fashion designer, founder of DressYourColor

Hi! I'm Zuzanna, the founder of a luxury slow fashion brand based in Japan.

I use vintage Japanese textiles to create sustainable fashion that revels in color and beauty.

I love giving new life to kimonos that can no longer be used in their original form.

In my designs, I use oversized silhouettes to showcase incredible Japanese textiles in all their glory.

I revel in maximal style: bold shapes, patterns, and anything that glitters.

I hope you visit me often and that we can enjoy the beauty of Japanese textiles together! 😊

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