Jelly Shoes and Bright Hues: The Art of Joyful Dressing
Jelly Shoes and Bright Hues: The Art of Joyful Dressing
It’s no secret that what you wear can affect your mood: Who among us hasn’t felt a rush of joy when slipping on a beloved piece of clothing or accessory?
The emotional connection to certain fashion items may be tied to memories, but a big part of it comes from color, too. There’s a ton of evidence to show that colors can affect your mindset and mood — sometimes significantly. That’s why color is a key aspect of “joyful dressing,” a practice involving deliberately wearing items that spark joy (like jelly shoes — so nostalgic!).
We tapped fashion psychologist Dr. Dion Terrelonge for more information on joyful dressing and how it relates to the colors you fill your closet with. Keep reading for her insight — and to learn more about how different colors can alter your attitude.
How Certain Colors Can Affect Your Mindset
According to Dr. Terrelonge, it’s not the colors themselves that can improve your mood but rather, “our associated responses to color.”
For example, shades of blue may make you feel chill because you associate the hue with pleasant memories of seaside vacations. Other times, she explains, we associate colors with certain traits because of social conditioning. The “good guys” in films often wear white, for instance, so we subconsciously associate this color with purity and trust.
Ultimately, “the continuous pairing of certain colors with specific messages or situations leads to an association so strong that the mere viewing of that color triggers feelings and thoughts in line with the associated message.”
So, what emotions do different colors evoke? Let’s take a look.
The color of poppies, hot peppers, and many a flashy sports car, red commands attention. Wearing shades of this vibrant hue, Dr. Terrelonge says, “might make us feel fiery, strong, warm, or energetic.” Wear your red jelly sandals when you want to stand out in a crowd.
Pink has long been used to symbolize femininity. Historically, Dr. Terrelonge explains, those wearing the hue were often perceived as “weak, feeble, [or] lacking in competence.” (Rude).
Thankfully, those days are long gone. “In recent times, the color pink has been subverted and has been taken on as a color of feminine power,” Dr. Terrelonge says. As such pink—whether it be pastel, blush, or electric neon—can trigger feelings of feminine empowerment. Who runs the world?
For many in the West, the color orange evokes cozy memories of autumn: think changing leaves and pumpkin pie. In Eastern countries, however, it has a totally different connotation. As Dr. Terrelonge explains, in parts of Asia, orange symbolizes “positivity and spiritual enlightenment.” People aware of those associations, she adds, may “feel an increased sense of spirituality and enlightenment” when seeing someone wear the warm hue.
Reminiscent of sunshine and warm spring days, yellow is, without question, the color of positivity. Those who wear yellow, Dr. Terrelonge notes, are often seen as “joyful, open to experiences, outgoing, and friendly”—like a giant, IRL smiley face. For some, yellow also symbolizes hope. Plus, it can bring you joy, too—and honestly, who doesn’t want a little more sunshine in their life?
You probably don’t need us to tell you that green is strongly associated with nature: think rolling hills, freshly-cut grass, and lush rainforests. It’s this ingrained association that makes green such a peaceful, calming color, Dr. Terrelonge explains. It has the same effect on others, too—those wearing green are often perceived as gentle, peaceful, and environmentally aware.
Blue can have many different connotations depending on the shade. Lighter blues, Dr. Terrelonge says, are often associated with passivity and calmness. Darker hues like navy, on the other hand, are typically tied to reliability, trustworthiness, and intellect. So if you want to nail a job interview or make others feel a bit more relaxed in your presence: Consider rocking your favorite blue ‘fit.
As you may have learned in grade-school art class, purple is made by combining blue and red—two colors with very different connotations. That contrast carries over into how purple is perceived, too. To some, Dr. Terrelonge says, it’s associated with royalty; to others, mysticism. People wearing purple are also often seen as creative, imaginative, or unconventional. Harness that unique energy by slipping on a pair of purple jelly boots when you want to feel inspired.
Black, like red, “is a powerful color,” Dr. Terrelonge says. As any New Yorker will testify to, the classy yet understated shade is typically associated with elegance and sophistication. Because of this association with chicness and class, many people feel a boost of confidence when wearing black.
Gray might not command attention in the way that more vivid hues do—but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. According to Dr. Terrelonge, gray is often “associated with elegance, refinement, restraint, and sophistication,” and, as such, is frequently seen in the “quiet luxury” trend. Give your wardrobe a chic upgrade by swapping out your earthy neutrals for shades of gray.
“Most futuristic trends tend to include elements of silver,” Dr. Terrelonge says—likely because we unconsciously connect the color to futuristic-seeming things, like robots, spacesuits, and skyscrapers. In some cases, she notes, silver is also seen as gray’s “wealthier cousin” and can make the wearer be perceived as fashion-forward, sophisticated, and graceful.
There’s a reason why you often see Hollywood royalty is always decked out in gold on the red carpet: The metallic hue is undeniably the color of opulence. Wearing gold clothing or accessories, Dr. Terrelonge says, may lift your mood or make you feel extra glamorous—and people are likely to perceive you as classy and glam, too.
How 6 Popular Fashion Trends Can Influence Your Mood
Embracing color isn’t the only way style can boost your mood. Experts theorize that when we wear certain items of clothing, we take on the traits or characteristics associated with them. Donning a tailored blazer, for instance, may make you feel responsible and put-together; combat boots, tough and edgy. This theory—known as “enclothed cognition”—is also a key aspect of joyful dressing. Ahead, learn how six current fashion trends may influence your mindset (and your effect on others).
Inspired by the iconic doll, Barbiecore is a playful fashion trend best noted for its focus on feminine pieces (and, naturally, the liberal use of pink). Wearing clothes that embody the Barbiecore trend may inspire feelings of confidence, glamor, and positivity, Dr. Terrelonge says.
Think of quiet luxury as the antithesis of flashiness. This TikTok-famous trend centers around the wearing of understated pieces that convey status (without the use of obvious branding). As Dr. Terrelonge explains, it’s typically associated with muted colors, like gray, navy, and black, and is often associated with sophistication. You may not be jet-setting to the South of France every weekend—yet—but with this trend, you can look the part.
Cowboys were the ultimate adventurers of their time—and the cowboycore trend embodies that fearless, adventurous spirit. Characterized by earthy tones like brown and beige (plus, of course, cowboy boots), Western-inspired fashion is often associated with free-spiritedness, freedom, and a connection to nature.
Elevated athleisure is practically the uniform of off-duty models. The laid-back trend involves wearing street-ready sportswear—think tailored joggers, sleek sneakers, and fitted jackets—and can make the wearer feel active, purposeful, and capable (not to mention comfortable).
Want to feel a little magical? Try mermaidcore: According to Dr. Terrelonge, the colorful trend communicates a sense of free-spiritedness, along with beauty, allure, femininity, and a touch of mystery. Embody this enigmatic trend with pastel hues, ocean tones, and metallic accents.
Crop tops, platform shoes, low-rise jeans: Y2K fashion is inherently nostalgic for many. Wearing a Y2K-inspired ensemble may make you feel connected with your inner child—or, if you didn’t live through it, to the popstars and celebrities that defined the era.
Joyful Dressing: The Bottom Line
“Clothing can act as sartorial armor,” Dr. Terrelonge says. So don’t underestimate the power of “your favorite blazer that reminds you of a formidable politician you admire, or the bag from a family member who believed in your capabilities”—these things can have a tremendous impact on your mindset.
Some people are most inspired by vivid colors and bold patterns; for others, quiet sophistication brings inner peace. Whether you’re looking for women’s shoes that stand out in a crowd, want to wear a color that conveys your down-to-earth attitude, or prefer understated pieces that stand the test of time, Melissa Shoes has the perfect pair to fit your mood.
Dr. Dion Terrelonge is a fashion psychologist, sustainability advocate, and consultant based in the United Kingdom. She uses her psychological expertise to help individuals better understand their own habits and make decisions that better themselves and the planet. Dr. Terrelonge has given lectures on fashion psychology at the prestigious University of the Arts London. She also served as the resident expert for a sustainable fashion show on the BBC and has been featured in a wide range of publications.