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The meaning of colour in fashion

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Every time I wear something, I always think of what it will interpret to the next person, but above all, what it represents to me as the one wearing the clothes. If you attended art classes in school, you would know what each colour represents.

Every time I wear something, I always think of what it will interpret to the next person, but above all, what it represents to me as the one wearing the clothes. If you attended art classes in school, you would know what each colour represents. It’s not something you should get your head twisted around; it is just something that makes you more informed, especially when you intend on wearing something to a particular event or in a different community. It has become common knowledge that when one is getting married they wear white, as it represents purity and happiness. Conversely, when one goes to a funeral they wear black, but for me, black is one of my most favourite colours; it represents who I am and it represents colour. I am sure as you are reading this, you are wondering how black represents colour.

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Black represents colour in the sense that when anything is splashed on it and is of colour, you are quick to see it, it will not be diluted. I guess that is why some proudly African people would say that black is the original colour, I strongly agree. I remember a few years back when I was leaving Zimbabwe for Senegal, I held a farewell reception and asked everyone to come wearing black. Prior to the event happening, I got a lot of messages asking me why I had asked people to wear such a “sad colour“. It actually made me sad to hear that some individuals look at black as a sad” colour, as colourful and loud as it is — it made me sad.

As much as these are my beliefs, black as a colour is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Although I have my own arguments around the death and evil part of the colour black, most people associate it with that. Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious colour (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief. In the words of Ara Kani, “wear black or stay naked.”

Talking of colours in fashion, have you always wondered why sometimes you make an instant judgement at someone who walks in a room? At times it is the energy that they transfer or the colours they would wear which in turn translate their inner being. For instance, red is the colour of fire and blood, so it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire and love. Even corporates are taking these colours into consideration, to drive a certain message without literally speaking or explaining themselves to anyone. Red as a colour is used in fashion to strongly bring images to the foreground. It is used as an accent colour to stimulate people to make quick decisions; it is a perfect colour for “Buy Now” or “Click Here” buttons on Internet banners and websites.

Have you ever asked yourself why big fashion houses use orange and yellow colours to advertise their spring summer collections? Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement and stimulation. Every time I see someone wearing orange, I sort of feel the heat for them as it gives the sensation of heat. So now I am sure most will differentiate the differences between red, which is aggressive and orange’s attraction.

Just because these colours represent all these things, I am not suggesting that you wear them brighter every day, No. I am simply informing you on how you can translate your energy without speaking when the need arises. While it is mostly associated with food, bright, pure yellow is an attention getter, which is the reason taxicabs are painted this colour. Those that travel to places such as the US, you will notice that their public taxis and school buses are painted yellow, this is for this exact reason. Another interesting fact is that babies cry more in yellow rooms, so I am sure you now know why the baby next door always cries when it sees you wear your yellow regalia.

When I personally wear blue, I feel so calm and confident. Usually when I am going for an interview or when I feel under pressure, I wear blue; just like the sky, it serenities me. As a colour, it is usually associated with depth and stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom, intelligence, faith, truth and heaven. However, avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite. When used together with warm colours like yellow or red, blue can create high-impact, vibrant designs; for example, blue-yellow-red is a perfect colour scheme for a superhero.

On the other hand, purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolises power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. However, white represents safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity. This is why when one buys flowers for a funeral; they buy white flowers which represent peace and tranquillity. However, in fashion, when you are a big-bodied person, run away from white, it pronounces your body. Ever wondered why the Queen of England wears mostly purple, white and blue? Now you know. Use colour to your own advantage, it will take you a long way.

Gilmore Tee is a well-travelled social entrepreneur, public relations and branding consultant, host, curator and above all, global citizen. He is the co-poducer of the weekly #GTeeVibe podcast and also one of the leading fashion facilitators from southern Africa. Reach him on www.gilmoretee.com/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/ SnapChat: Gilmore Tee