Do the colours we wear actively impact our mindset or are the effects more subliminal?
Jules wears the Reggie Colour Block pencil dress
Colours work on many levels, consciously and subconsciously. The science is there, it’s about our eyes and the wavelengths of light around us. 80% of the light/colours we see are used for our eyesight and the other 20% are absorbed into our hormonal system via mainly the hypothalamus ‘heat’ gland.
Every colour of the rainbow has a different wavelength of vibration that has an effect on our physical being and therefore on our moods and emotions. We all however, can be very emotive about what colours ‘make us happy’ and those that do the opposite. Take someone who had a hard time at school and associates their ‘green uniform’ with an unhappy phase they may well avoid this colour all their lives.
My job is to try and help them find other ‘shades of green’ that they do like and don’t ‘colour associate’ with as missing out on an entire colour range is a real shame as green for instance is wonderfully balancing for the body.
Your philosophy on colour is obviously more complex than that of the average person, what sort of research lead you to develop it?
I became truly fascinated with the philosophy and psychology of colour whilst writing my first book and the more research I did on the great influencers in history, the more interested I became on its impact on colour analysis today.
Taken directly from HNTWB:
As the physiological and psychological effects of colour are central to your well-being and to the way you present yourself, it is also vital to your health, beauty and self-confidence. Understanding that the connection between the colours you are most attracted to can also reflect your personal colouring and temperament.
The basis of Itten’s theory was that colours have either a blue based undertone or a yellow one, and this formed the basic foundation of colour analysis that we use today. His was the first breakthrough in discovering colour pallets for people.
You really helped open our eyes to the psychological effects of colours. We found your statement that the colour blue produces oxytocin particularly interesting! Could you please tell us a little about this particular relationship? What is it about blue that produces this powerful hormone?
Jules wears the Ubrique pencil dress
Ever wondered why sometimes you feel calm and composed wearing a certain colour and yet in others energised and active? Do you recognise that certain colours actually make you feel happy whilst others drained and tired?
Research shows that colours can have a psychological effect on your emotions, boosting self-esteem and well-being. You absorb colours through your eyes and so it’s no coincidence looking at a blue sky and sea can make you feel relaxed. It encourages the natural calming hormone oxytocin to be released when you see blue, a shorter and therefore peaceful wavelength of light. Blue has been named ‘the world’s favourite colour’ and maybe this is partly why, albeit mainly chosen by our subconscious minds.
Lots of experiments are being undertaken into how and why colours affect us. Where the colour blue is concerned an amazing study in Japan highlights this brilliantly, when they installed blue lights on main railway stations that reduced the suicide levels by a significant number.
We have noticed that colour psychology has moved towards valuing the influences of social learning and biology equally. How much do you think situational and interpersonal factors can influence colour perception?
It’s amazing to think that colour is actually more powerful when it comes to influencing our memories than letters of shapes. We make judgements and decisions on people, our surroundings and products, based on our attraction to a colour between 60% and 90% of the time.
Having already explained that the wavelengths affect us visually and through our glandular system, we can see how colours can have a direct impact on our metabolism which affects our appetite, temperature and moods, which in turn creates powerful responses and benefits our emotional well-being.
Red, orange and yellow are the stimulants, as they are at the hotter end of the spectrum and have the longest wavelengths. Red releases the hormone adrenaline, think red traffic lights = stop, danger! Red also provides you with energy and can physically raise your blood pressure, so if you are feeling particularly anxious or angry, avoid red in large amounts.
Click here to view the pencil dress Jules is wearing
At the cooler end of the spectrum with their shorter, more restful wavelengths are the blues, greens and violets. These colours are calming and can help to reduce blood pressure and act as a relaxing balance for our nervous systems.
A note here on the colour black, beloved by many women and held sacred in wardrobes across the world. In nature black doesn’t actually occur, it’s what our eyes see when all colours are absorbed rather than reflected.
Black is seen as mysterious, chic, smart, easy to throw on, and slimming. In reality from an analysis point of view, black worn up against the face only truly looks fabulous on women with a very cool, blue based skin tone.
However, black can be very emotive, hiding us from the world in grief, times of trauma and emotional distress, and in these cases, it can be a very powerful medium used to protect us.
However, if it doesn’t naturally ‘belong’ to the inherited colour palette and personality of the individual it can be ageing, wash out the skin and make it look tired and dare I say it, wrinkled!!!
There are of course many ways to keep women wearing black, hence the calling to write my book “How NOT to Wear Black” to help educate women globally who love this colour and don’t want to end up in therapy discovering it’s not one of their ‘true colours’!
Everyone should feel happy about the colours they wear, so I simply provide them with colour tips to help them to wear black well, without damaging their looks whilst keeping an emotional balance.
How do you suggest dressing for success (colour wise) when the effects of colour can differ from person to person?
Click here to view this dress is more wow colours
Your colour reactions can be very personal, emotive, and based on past experiences and can also be cultural. By paying attention to your needs and taking control of your image you can feel more positive and therefore be more productive and ultimately successful in any area of your life.
If you start each day being mindful about focussing on what colours would help you emotionally and psychologically then you can choose to communicate your own personal message.
Being aware of your colour choices will show results because your brain has a memory, and if you experience the enjoyment of a great day in a particular colour then you will feel positive and happy the next time you wear that colour, simply by an affirmative association. It helps of course if you also happen to get complimented in that colour, the ‘wow you look well today’ line works great for me!!!
Click here to view this stunning pencil dress
Establishing your ‘wow colours is key and this relies on you knowing your genetic colouring and personality type; are you warm or cool? Do you feel you fit into the warmer category being more outgoing and either brighter in the palette with a yellow based skin tone, looking fabulous in bright lime green, red or hot coral pink or suit the more muted, rich golden undertones of burnt orange, khaki green and chestnut brown?
Or do you feel more of an introvert with a cool pink based skin tone, looking and feeling totally fabulous in the pastel shades of blues and purples or do you have a cool, blue based complexion and love to look dramatic and dynamic in black, white and fuchsia pink?
A quote from my second book ‘The Essential Guide to Mindful Dressing’, “the way you feel about yourself is fundamental to the way your life will work out”. Each and every one of us has the power to focus on choosing colours to enhance our image and those that make us smile, feel more confident and embrace success. Your moods and body language are infectious to others around you; family, friends, co-workers and random strangers in the street!
To highlight this, I will share with you a wonderful case study from ‘Mindful Dressing’. Millie is a gorgeous beauty therapist from St Lucia, and she was deprived of the colour pink growing up as her family couldn’t afford new clothes, and she had to make do with hand downs, so when she got married, she overdosed completely on pink.
She told me “When I wear pink, I have an inner glow and feel very attractive. Wearing or seeing people in the colour pink makes me feel uplifted as it is such a vibrant colour and it makes me feel happy. It is the bright, fuchsia pink that looks fabulous on my dark complexion and everyone always compliments me when I wear it and I feel like my whole body is smiling”. Success indeed.
We find your process really interesting, part of your colour consultations has a personality test, could you tell us a little more about this test? How does the data you gather influence a person’s colours?
Partly taken from HNTWB:
The Personality test is part of the holistic system of Colour Analysis that I practice and it is fascinating to realise that there is indeed a strong connection between your genetically inherited colouring and your basic temperament. This underlying theory was first established by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago.
He believed that the human body was made up of the four elements of air, water, fire and earth and that corresponding with these were four vital bodily substances or “Humours”; blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. If one of these substances was dominant over the others then this would affect the appearance and the temperament of the individual.
The Sanguine (Spring) temperament had a preponderance of blood. We can see this in the high colour often noted in this skin tone and can be seen as blushing or red veins. Spring as a personality is naturally bright, outgoing and a great communicator but can take on too many things, not finishing what they start.
The Phlegmatic (Summer) temperament had a preponderance of phlegm. The pallor is noted in this skin tone as pale fluid. Summer is an introvert, someone who is wonderfully creative and a great diplomat, preferring to work behind the scenes.
The Choleric (Autumn) temperament had a preponderance of yellow bile. This relates to the liver and shades of mustard, which only truly suits the Choleric type. Autumn types like to lead, are great organisers but can be workaholics and get bored easily.
The Melancholic (Winter) temperament had a preponderance of black bile. These skin tones are able to absorb the colour black without greying the face. Winter people are naturally introverted, being perfectionists and great analysts, welcoming time spent alone.
The early Greek physician Claudius Galen in the 2nd Century went on to develop the four basic temperaments that can be used in colour analysis today. He set in motion a systemised method for the study of medicine, developed by others and valued by many.
In my experience, the colours that match your temperament are the ones that will be in harmony with the essence of your personality and will give you more energy as well as make you look better. It may be that you have temperament combinations, be very outgoing with a sanguine/choleric mix or be more introverted with a sanguine/phlegmatic combination.
Each of the four main temperament types has important qualities and a difficult period in your life may activate a part of your personality that you didn’t know existed.
To learn what your own colouring is click here
Since working out the best colours for happiness is more perhaps more complex than understanding which best suits your skin tone, how can someone at home find the best colours to wear for their own happiness?
Jules wears Bryony pencil dress
In the words of the late, great Frank Sinatra “Orange is the happiest colour”. For an outgoing showman this indeed might have been the case for him, and whilst orange is on the hotter more stimulating end of the colour wheel and is indeed associated with sociability, adventure, daring and yes happiness, a more introverted person may actually feel much ‘happier’ in a cool shade of turquoise!
Click here to view the Lydia short sleeve pencil dress in more wow colours
As colours can trigger emotional rather than rational responses within us, it can also influence our clothing choices, and therefore have a direct impact on our lives.
It may well be that you associate a favourite colour with a happy time in your childhood, or one colour might get your complimented more than others?
Whatever your age or stage in life, making your colour choices conscious, will enable you to pick those that make you feel happy and look your best on a daily basis. If a colour appeals to you but you haven’t tried it before, start small with a scarf or a top, see how you feel wearing it, and then if it makes you feel happy, buy in bulk!!!
To conclude, I have been privileged to work with some wonderful people and have seen some truly life changing moments when women discover their true colours. I believe that everyone has the potential to look incredible through colour and smile with happiness. By combining shades of colours that harmonise best with your own skin tone, eyes and hair colour, the ones that make you sparkle and shine and express your personality, and that therapeutically work for you at any given time, will ensure you have a capsule colour coded wardrobe for ultimate well-being, forever!
To read more from Jules check out here books, How Not To Wear Black and The Essential Guide to Mindful Dressing. Or check out the other articles in this series to learn how to find your own colours, and what to wear for every important event!