Want to reel him in? Wear red. Exude power? Bright orange is your friend. Here’s how to let what you wear speak for you in common social settings, from Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life.
Because of color’s deep and often mysterious power to transmit mood and emotion, the psychology of color is big business. Corporations pay consultants to help them figure out which colors are going to keep their employees happiest, and politicians and other public figures spend big bucks and countless hours trying to determine which hues are going to win them the most votes and help them make the most of their airtime. All the while, trend experts determine which colors are going to be the “it” hues every year, and designers place big bets on their findings.
You could easily get lost in this sea of opinions, counter-opinions, and ever-changing trends, but it’s really not so complicated as it seems. If you think about color in general terms (warm versus cool, bright versus muted, dark versus light), you’ll be well on your way.
To start you off, here are some simple, can’t-miss guidelines to matching your colors to the outcomes you desire:
When you want to appear warm and inviting, wear light-colored neutrals like white, cream, or camel—they’re accessible without making specific statements—or warm up a darker palette by throwing in a light-colored neutral. Great examples of circumstances in which you’d want your outfit to say “warm and inviting” include a meeting in which you hold the upper hand and want to put the other parties at ease; anytime you are hosting people in your home; and first dates.
For a look that is cheerful, fun, and perky, wear warm and bright colors. Think coral, grass green, peach, or lemon yellow. We are generally attracted to people who seem positive and happy, so looking cheerful and happy can be just as much of a power move as it is a mood booster to you and those around you. Unless you’re going on an early date (in which case you’d want to either amp up the sex appeal or go for a more neutral color statement) or heading to a very high-stakes meeting, I say you can never go wrong with a little bit of cheer.
Want to exude drama and sex appeal? Go for dark colors, red (the sexpot’s classic hue of choice), vibrant jewel tones, or neutrals with metallic or sheen. Black is always mysterious, sexy, and slimming. Sequins and silks draw the eye by capturing the light, turning you into the beautiful focal point of your suitor’s attentions.
When it comes to communicating power, it’s all about the context. In the right context, bright orange could be a power move. (Think bold silk blouse under a navy blazer—the classic pop of color.) Black can also be a very powerful color, as can red or purple. (Again, think of those politicians and their red ties or of royalty’s trademark hue.) But to my mind, the most powerful colors are those colors that “pop” your features and make the most of your natural assets. On a blonde, cream or camel could be a power color—though it’s considered anything but. On a brunette, black and white can be very striking, and patterns can be used to calculating effect.