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Psychology of Color

  • Images: John Clayton Lee
  • File Under: Life
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Color is obviously key every season, but this spring we're witnessing a full-on flowering of subtle hues that wash over you in warm waves. They're exactly the kind of neither-here-neither-there tones (i.e. at least a half-step away from the primary colors they're derived from) that Josef Albers used in his 1960s work The Interaction of Color to masterfully demonstrate color's fluidity and dependence on context.

Our innate emotional connection to specific colors — whether the serenity of blues or the passionate intensities of reds — defines us at our core. We explore how color and spring trends go hand-in-hand.

Cover Image: Lily Dress by Rejina Pyo, Sal Flower Earrings by Lizzie Fortunato, Sling Back Shoe in Pale Sky by Marni

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YELLOW

They say clever restauranteurs decorate their dining rooms with subtle bursts of yellow to rouse the appetite; turmeric and ginger cleanse and balance, yellow flowers feel convivial and friendly and lemon cures, cleans and complements. Yellow clearly communicates warmth and good vibes, but move away ever so slightly from the brightness of citrus toward tones like butter, goldenrod, dijon, amber or ochre, and you get a graceful elegance that loses none of its power to stimulate and welcome.

Style with white or cream to accent yellow's warm, rich elegance.

01 Simon Miller SS18

02 Montauk Highway, Willem De Kooning, 1958

03 A.L.C. SS18

04 Do Not Disturb, László Moholy-Nagy, 1945

“The color of caution is the color of concern. It’s a maternal sign in a world of commands. Yellow doesn’t bark. It reminds. It doesn’t demand. It encourages.”

—Nato Thompson

 

 

 

 

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Ane Neck Blouse in Aurora Red by Just Female, Cyrene Pants by Simon Miller, Agona in Coral by Intentionally Blank, Circle Crossbody in Coral by Mansur Gavriel, Moonradish Chandelier Earrings by Ellery

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RED

Red is often seen as the most aggressive of colors. It is the hue of stop signs, blood and buttons not to be pushed under any circumstance. It's also the color of opium poppies and come hither lips: foreboding and dangerously beautiful. But bend and refract the light red reflects in any number of directions you can get anything from blood orange to vermilion to blush and even brown. The mood changes dramatically depending on the hue — it can be softened or nuanced or deepened — but the underlying red still beckons, envelops and stands out in any context.

Lean in: mix reds and red-adjacent colors from across the spectrum.

01 Hypertransformation, Vera Molnar, 1974

02 Beaufille SS18

03 Seated Figure on a Bench, Willem de Kooning, 1972

04 Rachel Comey SS18

“We’re talking about systemic excitement here: heart rate, brain waves, respiration. We’re talking about a deeply mysterious physiological response, one that runs the gamut from arousal to alarm.”

– Maggie Nelson

 

 

 

 

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Lily Dress by Rejina Pyo, Sal Flower Earrings by Lizzie Fortunato, Sling Back Shoe in Pale Sky by Marni, Lita in Amber by Kate Young for Tura

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BLUE

All blues evoke a sense of purpose, wisdom, melancholia; but whereas more heavy-handed blues like navy and sapphire have connotations of nobility or wealth, the fainter, paler, more powdery blues — celeste, periwinkle, cornflower — are like looking out onto an infinity of meditative tranquility. They are inviting, yet inscrutable, and if you close your eyes and imagine what they look like, you'll only see them at the hazy edge of consciousness.

Be an ocean: go heavy on cool blues for maximum calm.

01 Tibi SS18

02 Het strand van Shichiri-ga-hama in de princie Sagami, Hokusai, 1830/1834

03 Creatures of Comfort SS18

04 Fishing Cutters in the Moonlit Night, Carl Locher, 1888

"No water, no life. No blue, no green."

—Sylvia Earle

 

 

 

 

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