Friday, March 21, 2014


    Every minute of our waking day, we are all visually, and psychologically effected by color.  Every hue, tone, and shade, singly and in combination evokes a response in us, whether we recognize that or not.
     Depending on the specifics of what we observe, our response is instantaneously positive, or negative.  And patterns of colors give us complex messages based not only on the nature of the pattern, but on the balance and distribution of the colors in use.
    The evening dress here pictured immediately puts us in a positive frame of mind. The colors are harmoniously blended and serve both the person and the shape of the garment correctly.  With the coat in the second image, the colors, though uniformly brilliant, are just enough off tone with each other to create a final effect that is jarring to the eye, leaving the viewer neither exhilarated, nor rested.
    Part of what makes me so passionately involved in the whole subject of attire is this intense depth of psychological response patterning that is an inextricable part of the clothed world.  I find it fascinating. And equally fascinating is how pervasive this response system is within us

    Though there are some variations from culture to culture regarding the societal meaning of color, and its subsequent inner meaning, in the main, color meaning and response on a visceral level is constant.
    For example, it has been tested and proven repeatedly that red hues actually create physiological responses in the body.  Red causes us to salivate more, raises our blood pressure slightly, and causes minute dilation of the eyes.  As a result the most often used color in food packaging?  Red. We also associate red directly with sex.
    This red dress, rendered in a matte fabric in another color like pale blue, would evoke a profoundly different response in us; even if the model posed exactly as she is here.
    Blue on the other hand has been proven to have a significant calming effect on the brain and body.  The heat rate slows, and the physical stress level drops.  It is no strange thing, I suppose that blue is a color we associate with honesty and honor.  Someone we can count on is "true blue".  We also put our politicians in blue, a dark shade of it meant to inspire trust.
    Now yellow, on the other hand creates an entirely different set of psychological and physical reactions in us.  Associated primarily with youth, positive action and energy, yellow causes a gut level positive response.  We feel energized, but calm and easy, and are less likely to a significant degree, to react with aggression.  It also goes a long way to explain why a great many products marketed to children have a large amount of yellow in the packaging.  Putting it simply we smile easily in the presence of yellow.

      Our set of systemic responses covers every color in the visible spectrum.  Each one of those hues in their pure state, by which I mean the single color wavelength we would all choose as "green" or "purple", has a group of physical and non-physical reactions associated with it. And when we combine colors the messages, and the responses, become more layered.
    I will be coming back to this subject soon to talk in more depth about specific colors and to look more at how we interpret pattern, hue and shade in our day to day existence.  But take a minute out of your day to stop and observe your reactions to the colors and patterns around you. you may just be surprised at the depth of your feelings.  I know I routinely am.

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