What Your Outfit Color Says About You

The way we dress is closely tied to how we feel, asserts Jennifer Baumgartner, PsyD, psychologist and author of You Are What You Wear (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012). “Just like any other behavior — relationship behavior, sleep behavior, eating behavior — what we wear can be an indicator of what’s going on internally,” she says. “There’s a constant conversation between the inside and the outside.”

Upgrading what you wear can help you improve not just your self-confidence and self-esteem, but also the quality of your daily experiences. Want to appear powerful and sophisticated? Put on a jet-black suit or dress. Seeking peace and tranquility? An ocean-blue tie or top can help.

Studies have shown that fire-engine red has an especially intense effect: Men perceive women wearing the color as extra-amorous, and sports teams that wear red tend to be more confident and are more intimidating to their opponents.

Ultimately you should outfit your closet with colors you like, says psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner: “The colors you wear are going to impact the observer, but they’re also going to impact you. Choose colors you’re attracted to.”

Check out these cultural meanings of color to find your perfect shade:

Red: The most passionate color, red signifies strength, excitement, love, sex, speed, leadership, power and danger.

Orange: Boost your energy with orange, which hums with enthusiasm, and playfulness, as well as balance.

Yellow: Sunny yellow is the color of happiness, optimism, idealism, hope and warmth. Use it in small doses, though—too much can raise your anxiety level.

Green: A symbol of nature, and Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year, green personifies vigor, fertility, generosity, youth, luck and wealth.

Blue: Find your tranquility with blue;—it signifies peace, unity, harmony, confidence, loyalty, dependability, and calmness. Research shows it’s a good choice for job interviews.

Purple: The color of kings, purple projects nobility, regality, sensuality, spirituality, creativity and enlightenment.

Black: A color that makes anyone feel stylish, black embodies modernity, sophistication and power.

Gray: Up your elegance with timeless gray, a hue that connotes respect, reliability, subtlety and wisdom.

White: Classic white is the color of simplicity, purity, innocence, reverence, humility and security.

Brown: The color of the earth, reliable brown symbolizes depth, richness, stability and tradition.


This list is excerpted from the Experience Life article, “Dressed to Lose.”

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Alanise Jackson
Alanise Jackson3 years ago

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Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa3 years ago

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Kathy Lucas
Kathy Lucas4 years ago

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June P.
Past Member 4 years ago


Mandy Kleykamp
Mandy Kleykamp4 years ago

Thankfully, there is a lot of leeway for those of us who are of mutable mood. For women, color is not the only communication tool we wear. The lady in the green dress would definitely be on men's radar just in case she bends forward a little. Very tight or revealing garments call out something adult in nature, yet are mostly worn by very young women. Tsk. Of course we older women want to look nice but we certainly have no expectation of or even wish to be regarded as inviting to any lothario in the neighborhood.

Something should be said about sheer garments, spike heels, and cut out holes in strategic areas. Do we need to match our underwear color to our outerwear or jewelry? Fashion trends today are generally geared toward the 20 or 30 something, leaving older women with a dearth of age and body appropriate styles of any color. When I was a teen, and miniskirts became the rage, it was widely lamented that no woman over 35 should even think about going out dressed like that. Times sure change.

Philipa Longley
Philipa Longley4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Val M.
Val M4 years ago


Genoveva M.
Genoveva M M4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

annie s.
christine s4 years ago

I think there's quite a lot to this but there seems be to a difference of opinion when it comes to black. Some say it's mysterious and others say it's a sign of depression , I wear a lot of black but for me it's often the only colour that gives me equilibration.

Kay M.
Kay M4 years ago

not sure about this.