Colour Coding: A Psychologist’s Take On The ‘It’ SS17 Hues


by Emma Firth |
Published on

Bright colours? For spring? Ground breaking (adopts Miranda Priestley’s not-so-dulcet tones). Well, actually yes, it is.

The SS17 runway was essentially the fashion world’s ‘F’ you to the latest dark headline filling up our news feed in 2017. Otherwise known as ‘Dopamine Dressing’. Think sunny-side up slip dresses, cobalt blue co-ords and about 50 shades of pink. And you just have to look to the high-street giants to know that happy-go-lucky fashion is more popular than it’s ever been before.

But can dressing in La La Land yellow really make you happier? If you’re an extrovert will you be drawn to certain tones? Are there colours to feel more confident or job interview appropriate? Apparently so. From Marni blue to Roksanda red, we called on Dr Carolyn Mair, Reader in Psychology at London College of Fashion (UAL), to decode what certain colours says about us.

‘Fashion is about people and perception,’ Carolyn tells Grazia. ‘There are some studies that say that wearing a particular colour can alter your mood. Though how we perceive a colour depends on our experience, our expectations and the knowledge that we bring to it. And, in addition, the symbolic meaning a particular colour has.’ A personal palette? Yes, it’s a thing…


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SS17 catwalk from L-R: Creatures of Comfort; Tibi; Emilio Pucci

‘Mellow yellow!’ ‘Go-bananas clothes!’ ‘Lemon dressing!’ Just a few sartorial sentiments prevailing for summer. Because, whether you like it or not, yellow – from mustard to neon bright – was an undeniable hit among designers at Fashion Week (alongside Zara et al) this season. Can injecting some zest into your wardrobe act as a brain food though? ‘If we believe wearing yellow makes us happy. Then it really does have an influence on us,’ Carolyn says. ‘The associations we have with yellow – like a lovely sunny day and buttercups – can evoke an emotional and behavioural response.’


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SS17 catwalk from L-R: Boss Womenswear; Sportmax; Dior

Hearts on ruby gowns at Valentino? Christian Dior’s scarlet ballerina-style dresses? If love, romance and (whisper it) sex was a colour, red would first spring to mind. ‘Research in the past has shown that when women (and men) wear red they are rated as more attractive,’ according to Carolyn. ‘And found that just wearing red can make you feel more sexy.’


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SS17 catwalk from L-R: Balmain; Balenciaga; Emporio Armani

Feeling extra special (and why shouldn’t you every day, really)? Purple is your ‘Princess Potion’ if you will. ‘It is associated with luxury and jewels,’ Carolyn reveals. ‘It doesn't appear to be a colour that people wear everyday – people notice it more. If you wore tan or black, for example, you’re more inconspicuous.’


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SS17 catwalk from L-R: Creatures of Comfort; Boss; Marni

Cobalt blue. Aqua. Lapis. If you’re not in the navy, there is sure to be a blue for you on offer this season. Promise. The best time to wear the sea shade? For a job interview or that meeting with your boss to gently make he/she aware you are so totally ready for a pay rise. ‘Blue is associated with confidence and loyalty,’ Carolyn says. ‘And there’s research that shows that wearing red for an interview is a no-no – I think it’s probably just too in your face.’

Pink and Red

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SS17 catwalk from L-R; Valentino; Blumarine; Valentino

AKA, fashion’s coolest clash and your ultimate ‘look at me, no really, please look at me’ colour pairing. ‘Red and pink is very striking and some colours almost have a reverberation when you put them together,’ Carolyn tells us. ‘So you still see those colours but in reverse because those bright colours kind of burn onto the retina. It’s the same with purple and orange.’

In need of a pick-me-up buy for your summer break? Here's Grazia's edit of the most colourful items to covet RN, from yellow trousers to ruby woo dresses...


Colours SS17 shopping gallery - Grazia

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Ruffle tweed jacket, £69.99, Mango

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Yellow frill dress, £69, & Other Stories

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Striped off-shoulder blouse, £29.99, Mango

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Cropped jacket, £65, Topshop

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Elisabet dress, £45, Weekday

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Midi slip dress, £36, Topshop

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Satin maxi dress, £970, Attico

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Red swimsuit, £20, Weekday

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Red suede jacket, £1400,

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Yellow slides, £19.99, Zara

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Yellow suede trousers, £190,

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Double breasted jacket, £69.99, Zara

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Red dress, £595,

**READ MORE: Is This The 'It' Swimsuit Of The Summer? **

READ MORE: 9 New Zara-Like Labels To Fall In Love With This Season

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