It’s All About The Colors!

"Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways" - Oscar Wilde
Not long ago, i was shopping for new pillows for my husband’s office, and i found these yellow ones online that i fell utterly in love with. I did not have the color yellow in mind for that room, but those pillows were just adorable. When i showed them to him, he said they were nice but that he did not want yellow pillows in his office. I insisted so much that he ended up asking me why i was suddenly so fixated on them. And it came out, almost like a blurt, “they are the same yellow of my grandmother’s kitchen table.” He looked at me somewhat puzzled and asked, “your inspiration for my office is your grandmother’s table?”. I just smiled. He was coming to the realization that the only reason i wanted those pillows had nothing to do with him, his office, or any inspiration whatsoever. Then and there, it became evident that the only reason i wanted those pillows so suddenly and so badly was that their color reminded me of some of the best memories from my childhood. Looking at that color transported me to a time and place of my past that i deeply treasure. Looking at those pillows made me feel extremely happy. As a fashion designer, I know that out of all the four elements of design we work with, color is the most powerful of all because it is the only element that not only affects our brain, but it also affects our emotions. Colors are all around us, and they play a discreet yet essential role in our lives. Solely through color, we can communicate ideas, persuade opinions, and cause reactions. Color can attract attention, create an emotional connection, and prompt impulsive decisions, like an opinion or a purchase.
If you were getting ready for a job interview and had two identical coats, one in blue and one in brown, which one would you wear? Last week I did a quick research, asking that question to 26 different people: 90% of them chose the blue one over the brown one. The reason behind that? More than any other element in your appearance and your manners, color is the one that creates the first visual impression. In fashion, just like in any other scope in life, first impressions are vital because they are lasting and can potentially lead to action.
From the wearer’s point of view, it is a well-known fact that first impressions are the most important ones. Studies have shown that people can generate an opinion of a person, object, or situation in less than 20 seconds. At their core, first impressions are most influenced by nonverbal communication. Because fashion is communication, and it is also non-verbal, it becomes one of your most essential non-verbal tools. Do you know which element of the fashion you are wearing is the first one people see when they look at you? You guessed it; it is the color of your garments. That notion of “you become what you wear” that psychologists talk so much about becomes even more powerful when we understand the color of fashion from this perspective. From the designer’s point of view, everything comes down to that first impression. Designers aim to grab our attention and create desire with every collection they present, and that is no easy task to accomplish in the mere seconds we dedicate to look at a garment. They masterfully play with lines, shapes, colors, and textures to create a look that is so enticing that it could potentially move us to make a purchase.
The connotations around color regarding fashion and especially in the fashion that we wear are more profound than just choosing what color looks good on you. The truth of the matter is that because color can influence thoughts and decisions, it can influence what people think of you, but most importantly, it can influence what you think of yourself. Choosing a color to wear should be about how good it looks on you, about how you want to be perceived, and about how it makes you feel. Color stimulates our brain, influencing emotions, and as a result, those emotions influence our thoughts and decisions. But it does not stop there. Our own well-being is profoundly connected to the colors that surround us. Colors play a vital role in our lives and how we respond to people and situations. Existing research has found that the colors present in our surroundings can impact us, and those around us, in a number of different ways. These colors can alter our mood, affect our performance, and influence our perspective and emotions. Surrounding yourself with the right colors can relieve stress, improve your energy level, and provide you with a good night’s sleep. These effects are the basis of chromotherapy, which is a type of therapy that uses colors to heal specific ailments. Chromotherapy has been around for thousands of years, and it is still used today as a holistic alternative. When trying to understand how colors affect our perceptions and behaviors, color psychology is the study that sheds light on that matter. Color psychology focuses on analyzing how our brain processes and understands the colors it visualizes. This means that the decision of a purchase or the opinion generated by a first impression can be influenced by the impact that colors have on our brains.
We have established that color stimulates our brain. The question that now remains is: how does that happen? There are two main elements to this how. The first one is the meaning and associations that each color has. The second one is how each color makes us feel. Because colors are a non-verbal communication element, they have more significant and broader meanings than the spoken word. Let us take as an example the color red. The perception associates red with danger, passion, and energy. The first associated meaning, danger, is related to the fact that red is the color of blood, and therefore it is statistically related to our surviving instinct as humans. Red also means passion, and this meaning dates back to the middle ages and a very famous poem written in the 13th century called “The Romance of the Rose.” This poem tells the story of the author’s quest for a red rose that was guarded in an enclosed orchard, symbolizing the search for true love. The third meaning, energy, is because red causes physical effects such as increased respiration and heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased metabolism. In another example, the meaning of the color blue is related to trust and intelligence. It is a serene and calm color that represents responsibility and stability. That is why police uniforms are blue, and that is why 90% of the people I asked to choose from the brown or blue coat to wear to a job interview preferred the blue one. This is not by chance. This is the universal language that colors speak.
Because color is universal, there are universal meanings around each hue, and those meanings communicate messages. But how each color makes us feel, that is as unique as we are. Color provokes an emotional reaction, not by its intrinsic meaning but because of our own life experiences and history. That is when our relationship with color becomes personal. The yellow pillows that I found online generated no significant impact on my husband but made an important one in me. The yellow spoke to both of us, communicating the idea of happiness, optimism, and creativity, because that is what yellow communicates. To my husband, it stopped there. To me, it transported me to a moment and place that I hold dear to my heart. That is why my husband thought the pillows were nothing out of this world and why I thought they were the most beautiful thing I had seen the entire day. My husband has no particular connection to that shade of yellow, and I have the strongest one. The difference regarding how those pillows made us feel lies in our different past and experiences. The difference between him and me is a childhood that included an incredible grandmother who owned a yellow kitchen table she used to knead her pasta on. A table where my entire family would sit around to have the longest meals because eating was about feeding our bodies with food and our souls with conversations. As a form of communication, color is irreplaceable. Color alone can make us think and feel at the same time because it talks to our brain while it speaks to our soul. Our relationship with color is meaningful, lasting, but above all, it is emotional and personal. A clear example is my heartfelt relationship with that shade of yellow. That is why looking at those pillows made me feel so happy. That is why I wanted them so badly. And that is why they are now decorating the sofa in my husband’s office.