THE INFLUENCE OF COLOUR ON SELF-EXPRESSION

There is a whole branch of study in fashion design known as colour theory. This is a field that studies the colour spectrum as pertaining to the Principles of Design, including the effect it has on emotions and mood, and can be extremely valuable when trying to figure out the best colour scheme for personal self-expression. Retailers often make use of this as well, to increase in-house sales or to ramp up a person’s need to shop in retail settings. It’s a rather fascinating field of study that has a number of colour forecasters and trend followers dedicated to it. Nowadays, there are also endless sources that will help you learn more about colours and how they can help present yourself, such as the International Colour Authority, Colourlovers, and Pantone/Fashion + Home™ to name a few.

Think about it…you are more formal towards the person in a dark navy ensemble than to the one dressed in beige! Colour can affect our reactions to people. The effect is subtle but very real; colour sways perception, judgement and behaviour. It has the psychological power to influence emotion. Managing the impact of colour on our self-expression is smart considering that colour is one of the first things noticed about a person, particularly from a distance. It is far more than just wearing your “favourite” colour!

Each hue has a different psychological effect. Our body’s nervous and hormonal reactions to the magnetic energies of colours (their temperatures), and the way it physically senses and interprets colour visually, result in different emotional responses to the various hues. In other words, there is a specific psychological reaction to each colour. Because these feelings are due to the physical effects of colour on the body, everybody will have the same subconscious reaction, despite the fact that people have individual colour likes and dislikes. This is where colour in fashion accessories play a leading role in our overall personal fashion statement and self-image.

The emotional effects of colour can be used to psychological advantage in everyday life, particularly in designing your own creations, to improve communication and manage interpersonal relationships. It can even create a persona – a desired image. One of the easiest ways to employ colour psychology is through colour coordination of fashion accessories within our wardrobes. Wearing particular colours will influence the way others relate to you.

Hear are some tips on how to design to influence with colour. If you want to…

1. Appear friendly and approachable
Design with clear earth tones, light yellows and clear colours in warmer hues:

  • Clear earth tones (in particular mid-brown, beige, camel and tan) are warm, friendly and approachable.
  • Light yellow is highly visible and therefore sociable, but not as demanding as bright yellow.
  • Clear warm colours (such as coral, sunflower yellow, peach) are non-threatening and open, particularly if they are light.

2. Look authoritative
Create using dark colours, in particular black, charcoal, medium to dark gray, midnight-blue, navy, dark blue:

  • Appear stern and reserved. The darker the shade the more powerful, intimidating and threatening the effect.
  • Create the impression of seniority.
  • Create the impression of being in a position to make decisions.

3. Appear less intimidating
Design with natural earth tones, pastels, the colours yellow and pink:

  • Earth tones appear friendly and approachable.
  • Pastel colours are calm, gentle and non-threatening.
  • Yellow appears positive and friendly.
  • Bluish-pink is calming and appears non-aggressive.

4. Look Successful
Create using rich but subtle sophisticated colours (not strong or neon colours) such as camel, butternut, burgundy, salmon and blue-gray:

  • Create the impression of having social influence and clout.
  • Create the impression of prosperity and economic success.

5. Appear trustworthy
Design with clear earthy colours combined with navy or medium blue:

  • Clear earth tones (such as tan, camel, yellowed beige) appear warm, open and down-to-earth giving the impression of dependability and credibility.
  • Navy and medium blue suggest reasonableness and professionalism.

6. Appear professional
Create using medium to dark hues, in particular men’s traditional suiting colours: navy, charcoal, gray, dark blue, gray-beige, black in Asia:

  • Appear serious and are therefore business-like.
  • Suggest efficiency, strength and assertiveness.
  • Give the impression of commitment and capability.

7. Attract attention
Design with bright, advancing colours such as orange-red, orange, yellow and lime that are visually and psychologically compelling (but not necessarily business-like).

  • Bright hues are often seen as playful, energetic and used in sportswear/team colours.

8. Downplay attractiveness
Create using muted colours, dark shades, neutral colours and dull colours:

  • Muted, dulled colours (such as stone, taupe, khaki) give the feeling of a lack of openness.
  • Dark colours suggest reserve and seriousness.
  • Neutral colours (black, gray, brown, white) lack character when worn on their own.

9. Appear creative and forward-thinking.
Design with strong clear pure colours, purples:

  • Strong clear colours are expressive, extroverted and positive.
  • Purple is the colour related to higher intellect.
  • Purple is a rich “feel-good” colour.

10. Appear calm and reassuring
Create using pastel tones, greens:

  • Pastel colours are unassuming, quiet and diplomatic, calmly deflecting criticism.
  • Green is a balanced colour which gives the impression of peacefulness and orderliness.
  • Muted warm colours such as earth tones are centered and down-to-earth.

Manage the impression you give. Change the way you are perceived and let others to see the positive qualities in you. Colour psychology is a simple but very effective tool to create or enhance your handbag designs!

2 Comments

Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight

2 responses to “THE INFLUENCE OF COLOUR ON SELF-EXPRESSION

  1. Elina

    Great tutorial, thanks a lot for that!
    was looking for a long time for clear and plain explanations of colors

    Cheers!

    • Don

      Thanks Elina…there are many good books on the subject of colour and how to use them in your everyday life at your local library.

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