Many of us go through that phase in life wearing mostly black. Whether it’s experimenting with goth looks in our teens, wanting to appear sophisticated in our twenties, sending a message of wanting to be left alone, or simply because it’s the easiest thing to pair things with. We stock up on sweaters, dresses, skirts, pants and accessories of this forgiving and sometimes very-flattering dark hue.
My wear-black phase didn’t last for as long as it did for my many peers; I know a woman in her thirties who still prefers to wear black ninety percent of the time. Sure, I went through angst as a teenager. Black was a colour that also slimmed me down, which was a godsend given my struggle with weight gain from my polycystic ovarian syndrome. Eventually, I stopped and turned my attention to other colours. I wish I could give an epiphany-like answer on why I grew out of it, but it’s simple: I got bored.
Red, Yellows and Turquoise: Personal Discovery
I love colours. Red and its’ various shades and tones dominated a bunch of my party dresses and my signature corset when I was a burlesque performer. It gave me ideas for paintings when I took intensive fine art in high school. When I experimented with images for this blog, I toyed with an overall red theme because I wanted to visually portray the blog as having a life with lines of deep crimson lines. You’ll find it a lot in my spaces. And I bet if you look around yours, there’s probably a colour that dominates.
I developed an affinity for yellow in my late thirties; my sister and I are still baffled at the snippets of yellows that exist in my plates, patio furniture, toiletry storage containers and telling purchases of sunflowers and yellow tulips for my apartment. I even painted my toenails a sunny yellow, something I never considered even a few years ago.
While it could be argued that the dreary and depressing period of the pandemic could have subconsciously gotten my mind looking for something sunny (literally and figuratively), I think it was something deeper. In addition to instant visual relief, yellow was a colour of joy, an emotion I’d denied myself for many years, and it was slowly coming out as an artistic preference.
I stayed away from yellow for many years, fearing it would clash and/or wash me out due to my yellow skin undertone (I’m half-Asian). But after experimenting, I discovered that simply opting for a deeper tone of yellow worked better on me than something that resembled a pale, overcooked yolk on a hard-boiled egg.
Turquoise is my favourite. It dominates my jewellery collection and I wore many tops in this vibrant colour when I was younger. A deep hue is even better because it matches my skin tone. Wearing a pair of turquoise, smooth-stoned earrings connect me to the water and beaches I’ve visited.
Colour and Psychology
There’s a tonne of literature and research on how colours affect mood and human emotions. It’s a critical tool for brands and any marketing or advertising department, to ensure they find the right audience and response to a product or service. When researching colour schemes for this blog, for instance, I went through hundreds of palettes. And even now, I still question if I picked the right one. It’ll probably change anyway.
Many yoga websites have colours like beige or pale green to make the viewer feel calm and serene. Sites that want to attract men experiment with varying shades of browns and blues. Many businesses targetting women are currently capitalizing on dusty roses, pale gold and pinks; colours that represent traditional femininity, pink especially. While these may sound stereotypical and presumptuous, they send a clear message of what they’re offering, as dictated by market expectations.
Seth Godin wrote a wonderful book called Meatball Sundae, which talks about how marketing your product or service has to match what the viable audience can recognize. You probably don’t want to use sombre black to market baby products, or neon green to sell a line of organic foods. It doesn’t make sense, because the market won’t be familiar with it. You can try to break out of the status quo, but that’s a gamble and businesses need to ask themselves if they’re willing to take that risk.
Colours and Creativity
From a creative perspective, colours can stimulate what I like to call our “idea” brain. I’ve come up with costume ideas using colour, drawing it from nostalgic memories or connecting them to something I found compelling in my daily life.
The blaring, overhead white light of the sun reminded me of a road trip I took in my early twenties, and I proceeded to write a short story about a couple who decide to quit their jobs and get to know each other through the open road. I’m not sure if I could have come up with that story if I wasn’t driving through the Oregon Coast that noon hour on a sunny day in June. You could say the open road could have inspired it, but if I was driving at sunset, I think it would have literally been a different story. Or maybe it would have inspired a painting instead.
One of my favourite uses of colours is the Quality Street (QS) chocolates, which are packaged in a tin. They come in different flavours and various colours of wrapping paper, looking like jewels of goodness.
First, let me profess that I absolutely adore jewel tones. They’re deep and vibrant, which can make anything pop and/or glisten, creating mesmerizing effects.
One day when I was eating my feelings, digging into a large QS tin watching a tv show, my fingers lingered on the purple wrapper (the chocolate hazelnut one, if you’ve had them you know what I’m talking about!) and I thought about how the shade would look great as makeup. I went online and looked at amethyst eyeshadow palettes.
I found a great one by Huda beauty, purchased it, and it became a staple for my autumn looks that season. Also, I inspected the shiny amber wrappers, and instantly thought of the fabric markets I used to visit in Kuwait, reminding me of a dress I’d always wanted to have custom-made. Except I took it a step further and after toying with a couple of various amber shades, arrived at the conclusion that a yellow gold was probably a better option. All of this from a piece of caramel candy wrapper.
Colours can heavily influence our mood. It’s a useful tool to guide personal expression and gives an insight into how we connect and communicate with the outer world. This makes for rich, artful living.