The Power of Colour
Annmarie O’ Connor
It can be argued that the feelings associated with colours are merely symbolic. Be that as it may, might they also prove equally efficacious in helping us keep it together, even if things are falling apart?
Colour affects our mood and general wellbeing
Research suggests that when our eyes connect with a particular colour, the brain releases a cocktail of feel-good chemicals that have the potential to impact our bodies and minds.
1958, Robert Gerard documented the psychophysiological effects on the autonomic nervous system and visual cortex of viewing (blue, red and white lights. Gerard noticed that red increased the viewer’s blood pressure while blue enhanced the relaxation response.
1958, Dr Harry Wohlfarth, documented how specific colours affected respiration, pulse rate, mood, and blood pressure. Increased under yellow, orange and red but decreased under black, green and blue..
1974, researchers Keith Jacobs and Frank Hustmyer demonstrated that colours can change our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. Red was significantly more arousing than blue or yellow.
What to Wear and Why
GREEN – Freshness, safety, balance and harmony. Restful; produces the least amount of eyestrain.
BEST FOR: Heavy screen time, presenting/public speaking; Zoom calls.
BLUE – Stable with a cool, relaxing effect (think of the sea), calms autonomic nervous system; lowers blood pressure. Turquoise symbolises truth and aids communication. Navy blue is a strong corporate interview colour choice – trustworthy and steadfast; linked to intellect.
BEST FOR: High stress days; interviews and performance reviews.
BROWN – Stable but with a dual meaning. Comforting and reliable but also represents simplicity and tradition.
BEST FOR: Working in groups; fostering collaboration.
NOT FOR: Innovative company cultures.
BLACK – Power colour – conveys leadership, trustworthiness, and seriousness. Ranked highest on the authority scale alongside navy and charcoal by colour experts.
BEST FOR: Job interviews. Ideal for a management position interviews; roles and industries that value consistency and reliability.
NOT FOR: Mental health days – absorbs light.
MAGENTA – Both lifts spirits and relaxes mind.
BEST FOR: Feeling despondent or frustrated.
NOT FOR: Deadline days; too relaxing in excess.
YELLOW – Happiest of colours; uplifting, encourages personal power and positivity. Creative and optimistic. Calms butterflies and stress-related tension.
BEST FOR: Presenting and public speaking; creative fields/interviews; delivering positive message/customer-focused communication.
NOT FOR: Considered an unstable colour, so it can be over-energising for the office and make the wearer appear weak. Studies show that babies tend to cry more in yellow bedrooms, people tend to argue more in yellow kitchens and yellow dressing rooms cause more stress to professional entertainers.
GREY – Safe choice. Dual meaning: logical and analytical; passive and lack of energy.
BEST FOR: Interviews (but pair with another colour).
RED – Aggression and passion; bold and assertive. Increases metabolism and raises blood pressure. Can however, translate as hostile in a work setting.
BEST FOR: Presentations and pitches (energising); fields like law and sales; when feeling tired; stop signs, sale signs, fire engines and first dates.
NOT FOR: Interviews in more collaborative fields – can be seen as domineering/rebellious.
ORANGE – Stimulation and enthusiasm. Evokes confidence, creativity, energising, passion.
BEST FOR: When in need of a mood or energy lift – early mornings; post lunch.
NOT FOR: Collaborative work – attention-grabbing; wear in moderation.
PURPLE – Royalty and luxury; artistic and unique. Implies creativity and intelligence. Calms nervous dispositions.
BEST FOR: presenting and public speaking; creative fields/interviews.
NOT FOR: working in groups – message and collaboration.
WHITE – Clean slate, optimism, neutrality and perfectionism; organised, impartial, detail-oriented.
NOT FOR: Zoom calls – non-colour; causes eye strain; can be overstimulating and cause annoyance.
Click below to learn more about the power of colour on our Personal Branding & Virtual Styling Workshop.