I have some, you have some, we all have some and probably want a little more on the soles of our shoes, around the inner edge of our eyeglasses and lining our purses and handbags. Maybe it’s simply the end of a trendy trend pegged to the eighties fashion throwback, but I think it’s something more. I had a little run-in with color psychology during my beauty experiment so I’ll share what I found.
“In the final quarter of my experiment, I decided to try out deliberate badness in dress. In preparation for my daughter’s playdate, I dressed myself in an olive-green shirt and a pair of pants in a browner shade. I wore sneakers; I left the shirt untucked. I felt uncertain as we left the building and fretful in the cab. Later, my friend Corinne asked me “Are you sure you’re feeling all right today? You look a bit gray.”
When Hattie and I got home and spotted ourselves in the elevator lobby, Hattie’s bright-purple romper prompted her to smile. I squinted at myself with a bleary clinical eye, wondering whether the woman-zombie before me needed a blood-transfusion, some sun, or an antidepressant.
I’d known that color psychology was a big part of marketing and package design (fast food wrapped in appetite-enhancing red and orange; ecofriendly detergents bottled in morally pristine white) but I’d not realized how much it affected me and everyone I encountered. Did I want to feel like Nauseous Kermit and present myself thus? Or did I want to present something, anything, sunnier?”
I think we want sunnier, and not just because it’s winter. I think we wear neon to convince ourselves that we can be faster, hotter, brighter and louder, and that we have enough superpowers for whatever we’re facing. This year, there’s a lot to face, so I’m grateful for the neon-loving closet optimists. They may blister retinas, but secretly they’re trying to save the world.