What’s Color Got To Do With It?

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What is your favorite color?  Do you wear this color?  Use this color in your home?  What does this color say about you to other people?

Color plays such an important part in each of our lives from birth.  Ever wonder why blue is for boys and pink is for girls?  Jeanne Maglaty wrote an article published on Smithsonian.com explaining how pink and blue became “gender specific”.

When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Do we as adults treat babies dressed in pink differently than we treat babies dressed in blue?  I know I do and have also noticed young children insisting that boys don’t wear pink thus we all are influenced by decisions made by the manufacturers and retailers back in the early 1900’s.

Many books have been written on color and the psychology of color.  “The Luscher Color Test” by Max Luscher was written in 1969.  In 1987 Carole Jackson wrote “Color Me Beautiful” emphasizing the importance of color in our lives.  Currently there are many books and experts that provide specific colors for use in advertising and sales.

Color is a valuable tool in our lives!  Understanding color and using it to our advantage rather than just choosing whatever is available on the store shelves can be beneficial in our business as well as in our  personal lives.

Yes, the fashion designers and color experts influence our buying choices by offering only what they design or decide is fashionable but it is up to us to make informed choices.  Although we ask sales people and friends what color looks good on us, it is my belief that each of us knows what color looks good.  If your favorite color is navy blue and every time you wear navy blue people compliment you on how you look, chances are navy blue is a color you look good wearing.

Hint about compliments:  Compliments are most often descriptions of your appearance.  If you hear “Nice tie or scarf” the chances are that the tie or scarf is all that is getting attention.  If you hear “You look great” you know you are getting the attention not what you are wearing.

Color cannot be ignored.  People often react to color without conscious decision.  Some colors automatically provoke specific responses in people.  Over 20 years  ago I conducted a survey to determine the effect of colors on people and in looking at the survey results today, there may be only slight changes.  With the survey I listed color names and asked the individuals to write a descriptive word about each color.

The colors listed below are ranked in order of preference by those responding to my survey, along with the descriptive words applied to each color.

Red – Attention-getting, exciting, energetic, vibrant, happy, snappy, daring, confident, terrific, hot, sophisticated, fun loving, bright, sexy, powerful.

White – Self-assured, calm and good, fresh, clean, necessary, summery, pure, sparkling, refreshed, crisp, demure, innocent, stark, happy, soft.

Black – Authoritative, confident, smart, sexy, sophisticated, severe, formal, dignified, sexy or serious, after 5, crisp, professional, harsh, classy, dramatic.

Turquoise – Cheerful, rich, vibrant, pretty, seductive, centered, fun, alive, bright, casual, playtime, looking good, energetic, balanced, happy, feminine.

Navy – Businesslike, professional, confident, sophisticated, power, rich, well-dressed, conservative.

Yellow – Feminine, happy, bright, sunshine, bold, lighthearted, cool, sweet, refreshing, mellow, cheerful, creative, energy, alive, perky, excited.

Wine – Sophisticated, classic, old, attractive, feminine, elegant, sexy, self-assured, classy glamorous, subdued, relaxed.

Pink – Loving, feminine, happy, energetic, silly, soft, youthful, cute.

Peach – Pretty, soft, feminine, gentle, semi-rich, friendly, cool, healthy, clean.

Purple – Regal, fun, silly, romantic, sophisticated, bright, confident.

Light Blue – Flattering, cool, calm, attractive, wholesome, peaceful, happy.

Muted Blue – Flattering, subtle, classy, calm, cool, demure, soft, drab, quiet.

Cream – Work, elegant, ick, soft, feminine, sophisticated.

Violet – Sexy, flowerish, feminine, comfortable, silly.

Forest Green – Nice, enthusiastic, a forest, rich, serious, business, confident.

Taupe – Self-assured, powerful, versatile, calm.

Dark Blue – Businesslike, professional, power, serene, confident, drab.

Beige – Work, classic, professional, blah, youthful, faded, power, calm.

Apricot – Soft, yuk, pretty.

Green –  A tree, outstanding, old, alive, healthy.

Grey – Sophisticated, casual, basic, soft, formal, sexy, mellow, smart, subtle.

Orange – Awful, obnoxious, energetic, terrible.

Rust – Warm, icky, elegant, sophisticated, attractive, old.

Brown – Work, rich, sexy, old, dull.

Gold – Old Warm.  Note:  This was the only color not chosen as a favorite color.

Using  the results of the color survey when choosing garments for a specific situation could be very helpful.  If there is one descriptive word that doesn’t fit the specific situation, perhaps another color would be better.  For example, read the descriptions of black versus navy, etc.  What would be the best dominant color, the best accessory color?  For a dramatic effect, choose a color with varied or strong descriptive word response.  If you wish to blend in without standing out, there are colors that have very gentle descriptive words.

If your favorite color, that is, the color that makes you feel good, has descriptive words that are not appropriate for work situations, use it for casual and social occasions.


To Be Continued in “Using Color as a Business Tool”

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