How to Choose Colours to Wear to Suit Your Mood


How to choose colours to suit your mood - how to choose colours to wear

Jill Chivers of Shop Your Wardrobe and I were asked a question about how we chose our outfits  – what our processes are – and the first one that came up for us was about basing an outfit around a colour.  In this video we share our thought processes – and they are quite different from each other!

How do you decide what to wear each day?

If you have to wear a uniform that takes many of the decisions out of the process, but for many of us, there are myriad pieces of input that go into this daily decision.

The most common are:

  • Weather
  • Occasion
  • Comfort
  • Activities

These are the things we all deal with each day, but then, what are the other aspects of choosing an outfit that you may think about?

Using Colour as the Inspiration for Your Day’s Outfit

How Imogen Chooses Colours for Her Outfits

For me, colour is one aspect that is important. If I’m needing to be taken more seriously I’ll choose a darker colour like navy blue which says that I’m trustworthy.   Doing a personal colour analysis I may choose a white top or something more neutral so as not to be distracting for my client in the mirror when looking at colours.  If I’m seeing a client and want to be seen as friendly or approachable a blue or teal is a frequent choice.

How do colours make you feel? how do you choose colours for your outfit? Sometimes I feel like I need calming blue
Wearing cool and calm blue (and super comfy Naot wedges, the dress I made myself from a Vogue pattern)


Very often, if there is no particular occasion or activity that I need to dress for and I can wear any colour, I will dress based on asking myself the question:

What colour do I feel today?

I need to take into consideration how the energy of the colour has an influence on my mood and feelings.

  • Do I want my colour to pep me up or calm me down?
  • Do I want the colour to help me maintain my energy levels, for example when I’m working with extraverts who can easily dominate and when I need to ensure I’m heard and don’t disappear into the background?
  • Do I need to feel more stimulated?
  • Do I want to feel creative?

Colour has a mental, cerebral feeling for me. My choice comes down to a mental feeling about how the colour will make me feel or help me communicate that day.

For example, hot pink to me is vibrant and alive, happy and exciting, full of energy.  When I want to feel that way, it’s a great colour to choose.  I call hot pink my happy colour.

How Jill Chooses Colours for Her Outfits

Jill thinks about using colour in a different way from me.  For her,  colours feel more tactile and is a sensate thing, colours have a physical feeling for her, like she’s wrapped up in a colour.

She looks for colours that help her achieve a mood that she is either feeling or wants to be feeling, such as optimistic and positive yellow (it feels buttery and enveloping), a juicy and fun orange (like being inside a glass of freshly squeezed juice),  or a vibrant and bouncy green (Jill feels that green has a sense of movement for her).

It’s both a physical feeling of being inside a colour, and emotional feeling too for Jill.

Colours that don’t appeal to Jill, for example, she won’t wear purples and it’s because they feel too serene and not earthy enough for her, purple puts a lid on her natural vibrancy and also feels purple is too airy in an ungrounded and unappealing way for her.  Black is heavy and feels like bitumen, it’s weighty and so unappealing to Jill.

I can’t imagine colour feeling physical in the way Jill does.  It’s fascinating how differently we perceive the way colour “feels” for us.

How Do Colours Make You Feel?

How do you decide which colour to wear on any given day?

  • Do certain colours give you a sensation?
  • Do they make you feel a certain way?
  • Do they put you in different moods?
  • How does a colour make you think?


Colour My World – Introduction to the Psychology of Colour


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  • Very interesting post! Maybe Jill is toward the synesthetic end of the spectrum — I have heard of people sensing sounds as colors, but maybe this is a variant of sensing colors as physical sensations! Meanwhile, I had to look up “bitumen” so this post is all the more educational 🙂

    • Bitumen = Asphalt! Jill is a Sensor (in MBTI Myers Briggs Terminology) and they do ‘feel’ more than people like me who are Intuitors – we have had discussions about things like having to go to the toilet – I can put that feeling aside if I’m in flow doing something, Jill can’t think until she is physically comfortable and has been!

  • Super interesting! You know, neutrals and darker natural colors suit my personality… but not my face! I am constantly reminding myself to pick brighter colors… but along with flattering me more I find they make me happier too. It was VERY hard to transition from neutrals to brighter colors initially, but I’m so very glad I did- I swear my energy level and happiness go up correspondingly when I’m in my brights!

    • Thanks, Lauren, for sharing my thoughts and feelings as well. Looking at my wardrobe is a constant reminder to bring more color into my life (and face). Imogen’s suggestions for smaller amounts of color in necklaces and scarves is helping me greatly. I have also been trying colorful cross body bags to pep up my much loved olive tones.

      Thanks again for sharing how much you enjoy wearing more color…it’s inspiring me.
      Imogen’s faithful fan,

  • Hello Imogen,

    Thanks for this post. I love your videos with Jill but the link to this one is not working. Could you please fix so we can all enjoy it? Thanks Fleur

  • This is an interesting topic. I used to wear brighter pastels, but over the last few years feel more comfortable in black & white, navy & white with some grey or camel. Small amounts of colour are enough. If I were to wear the colours you and Jill wear it would physically hurt and make me anxious/nauseous. Myers Briggs is INT/FJ. I have been done three times over about twelve years and the Thinking/Feeling part has always been pretty equal. I think I need balance of yin and yang, hence the equal amount of black & white or navy & white.

    • Remember that colouring changes with age and that you may now need some more muted colours. Interestingly you go for neutrals – and this is often a personality preference – those who are more classic in the personality dressing style tend to opt for these over the “rainbow” colours. Feeling sick sounds more F than T!

  • I actually thought everyone had physical sensations to color. I do. It’s why I’m having such a hard time with my color palette. It’s hard to give up colors that feel good! It’s why I don’t wear red. Red irritates until it makes me grumpy. It’s also why I like purple. It does feel serene, just like Jill says, and I like that feeling. I know restaurants use this idea. Orange is supposed to make you feel hungry. I love a citrus orange but there is one certain shade of orange that actually makes me feel queasy when I see it. I find it very hard to look at and would feel awful if I wore it. Spring green makes the tip of my tongue tingle.

    • Fascinating Melisa, thanks for sharing. I certainly don’t have those kinds of sensations – it just shows you how different many of us are in how our brains work!

  • So interesting to hear both your thoughts on choosing color! I find I am in reverse of most of the people around me… In summer when the weather is hot hot hot, I am happiest in whites and greys. They feel cool to me. The thought of warm overtones colors makes me sweat! (Like you were mentioning…) About the only colors I can handle in the summer are blues and minty greens. In the autumn, as the temps cool down again, I start breaking out my reds and pinks again. Like Jill, I go on color binges where I wear the same color days in a row to suit a mood, or desired mood. Thank you for sharing!

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