In The Pink: The Psychology of Color

“The best color in the world is the one that looks good on you.” – Coco Chanel

Artists and designers have long been aware of the psychological impact of color. Just think of Claude Monet’s most famous works. Monet loved to paint within a high key (light colors). Instead of dark black and brown shadows, he opted for more colorful and serene options, such as blues, greens, purples, pinks, and greens.

So how does Monet’s work make one feel? While not every single person will feel exactly the same, the predominant feeling one gets when viewing his extraordinary work is one of relaxation and calm. We can only assume that is exactly what Monet intended.  

From Very Well Mind, “Color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions.” 

Which begs the question, as an emerging designer, how can you make the psychology of color work for your brand? The answer is a simple one, learn everything about how the phenomenon works and be extremely mindful of your color choices.

A Study in Color: Fashion Lessons From the Best

To clarify in even more detail, here are a couple of illustrative examples firmly rooted in the fashion realm. 

Starting with Ann Demeulemeester of the “Antwerp Six.” The Antwerp Six refers to a group of fashion designers who graduated from Antwerp‘s Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980–81. While all the designers of the Antwerp Six went on to varying levels of acclaim, Ann Demeulemeester and her eponymous brand was a notable standout. 

Starting her own collection in 1985, Demeulemeester became known for her experimental but wearable designs. They were usually created in brown, black and gray fabrics, which were then slashed and torn to create a punk aesthetic. 

Even when she wasn’t tearing up her designs, her chosen color palettes consistently evoked a romantically dark sensibility. By often using a dark and somewhat muted color palette, this sensibility has been consistent for the brand, season after season. 

Another designer to employ color to create an identifiable brand aesthetic is Lilly Pulitzer. 

Shortly after Lilly married Herbert Pulitzer the couple decided to settle in Palm Beach, Florida. Together they owned several Florida orange groves and, with produce from these, the ever-enterprising Lilly opened a fruit juice stand on Via Mizner in Palm Beach.

 While working at the stand, Lilly found that working with oranges all day made a mess of her clothes. In hopes of camouflaging the juice stains, Lilly went to her dressmaker and asked that a dress be created that would hide them. Her customers loved her dress, so she produced more to sell at her juice stand. Eventually, she was selling more dresses than juice, and decided to focus on designing and selling what had become known as her colorful “Lillys”.

With each creation, Lilly adhered to the motto “Everything is possible with sunshine and a little pink.” Making use of cheerful colors such as periwinkle, pink, magenta, blue, vibrant yellow, and of course, orange, her collection consistently reflected a world where everyday is sunny and every person is cheerful. Consumers (and the fashion press)  loved her for it.

Almost every successful designer has a color aesthetic that identifies their brand. Schiaparelli’s shocking pink, Versace’s gold, yellow and black, Hermès Orange, and Martin Margiela’s black, black and more black.

Research shows that having unique and memorable color palettes can “increase brand recognition by up to 80%.” When consumers are able to recognize brands more easily based on the designer’s color choices, they are more likely to interact with the designs. 

Color and Emotion

To expand on our earlier quote from Very Well Mind, here’s a breakdown of the psychological effects of various colors.

Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.

Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.

And there’s more:

  • White: The color white feels fresh and clean. The color is often used to evoke a sense of youth and modernity. 
  • Black: People often describe black as a “powerful” color. It is considered to be sexy, powerful, mysterious, or even ominous.
  • Silver: This color is linked to a sense of innovation and modernity. Which is why it is often used in auto manufacturing.
  • Red: Red is a bold, attention-getting color, and evokes an image of power, action, and confidence.
  • Blue: People often describe blue as the color of stability and safety. It also brings forth feelings of peace and serenity.
  • Yellow: According to the experts, yellow is a “happy” color, and implies that the wearer is perhaps a bit more willing than the average person to take risks.
  • Gray: The experts suggest that people who prefer gray don’t want to stand out and instead prefer something a bit more subtle and sophisticated.

Chances are, as a student of the arts, nothing we’re saying here comes as a big surprise. Our goal here is to make you think about the message color sends when applied to your brand, including your designs, logo, and marketing. 

16 Million Possible Combinations

With more than 16 million color combinations recognized internationally, how do you choose the right one for your collection?

This is where your target market research comes in. If you’ve done your research, you should know your customer pretty well at this point. 

Let’s say your target customer is a man, aged 40 – 65. While a person might prefer brighter, more attention-getting colors when they are younger, they might find themselves drawn to more muted and sophisticated colors as they grow older. Something you’d definitely want to keep in mind when choosing your fabrics.

Chronological age isn’t the only consideration. From Psychology Today, “Black, blue, and red led to underestimating size, and green, gray, and white led to overestimating body size.” Interesting, right? 

Again, this is where your target market research comes in. If you know that looking slimmer matters to your customer, taking advantage of this color phenomenon can make the difference between a garment that sells and one that does not.

By now you’re probably ready to find your own “signature” in the color palette. There are many free services online that allow designers to develop palettes for their designs.The process is relatively simple! Start with a picture of a design or anything else you find inspirational, color-wise. Platforms like Photocopa will generate a matching color palette in a matter of seconds. You can then test the palette on your designs to see how the different shades resonate.

At Teg, our in-house designers and fabric sourcing managers have made a study of the phenomenon of color. We’re more than happy to share what we’ve learned over our 18+ years. Let’s have a colorful conversation. Give us a call at 800-916-0910 or reach out to us on the web at

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