Monday, July 26, 2021
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THE SCIENCE OF FASHION COLORS

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WHY CLOTHING COLORS MATTER

Most human eyes are capable of seeing millions of different colors on a daily basis. Colors are an unappreciated part of our daily lives — we often forget how impactful a tool they can be. 

Colors like Tiffany blue and Post Yellow were deemed valuable enough to their companies to warrant trademarks, allowing brands the exclusive production rights to certain shades. Product development teams place dyed fabrics under various lights to test its consistency and hues before ever approving them to reach the sales floor. What is it about different hues that make them so powerful? 

A shopper carries a Tiffany & Co. bag outside the company's flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, U.S.
A shopper carries a Tiffany & Co. bag outside the company’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, U.S., Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

The psychological effects of different shades and tints are surprisingly under-researched. One of the reasons scientists hesitate to study color psychology is inconsistency among cultures.

Western countries have used the color white to represent purity and innocence, while Asian countries use it to symbolize mourning. Regardless of external factors, the powerful impact of colors is embedded into human history. 

Countries like China and Egypt have practiced chromotherapy, or the use of specific colors to heal individuals, for thousands of years. The holistic practice is still used today; red is believed to stimulate circulation, while blue is supposed to soothe illnesses. The triggering of bodily responses by different chromosomes is a biological impulse.

Red silk
via ZEDGE

Subconscious reactions to color can be used by fashion designers and influencers to gain advantages over competitors. Red is a great color to grab attention. The bold hue has been used by notable brands like Lego, Nintendo and CNN to capture the interest of audiences. Red is also a wonderful color for dresses and suits, as it helps the wearer appear confident and noticeable at crowded networking events and dinner parties. 

Meanwhile, a fashion designer who uses blue conveys trust and strength. Tech giants IBM, Facebook and NASA use blue iconography to put their audience’s minds at ease and appear empathetic. 

Graphic designers and marketers have used their knowledge of colors and their inherent meanings to gain traction for decades. It’s time the fashion world does the same thing. 

Closeup macro shot of human eye. Shallow DOF. Developed from RAW; retouched with special care and attention. Adobe RGB color profile.
Closeup macro shot of human eye. Adobe RGB color profile.

Color not only influences our brains, but it also impacts our bodies. Stylist Jeni Luciani went on the record to describe how she uses different colors to accentuate assets and minimize physical flaws. 

Brighter colors travel to the eyes faster and are great for showing off assets, while dark neutrals like black and brown minimize our insecurities. Color is a powerful tool to employ in our clothing. How will you wield it? 

Stacked colored clothing fabric.
Cotton Stock photos by Vecteezy