The Power of Color

Guest blog by Mari Lyn Henry
Author of How to Be a Working Actor, 5th Edition: The Insider's Guide to Finding Jobs in Theater, Film & Television

All of us have specific colors--whether they are dramatic, understated, or neutral--that look better on us than other others. Wearing the right colors next to your skin can have a rejuvenating, uplifting, and healthier impact on your overall appearance. You will know the colors are wrong if you suddenly look older, sallow, or blotchy, or your cheeks seem drained of color.

If you have pale skin and dark hair, the jewel tone colors (sapphire blue, emerald green, ruby red, dark amethyst) and the icy pastels (orchid, lemon, pink, pale blue) will bring out your natural blush. Skin tone with a beige, pink, or ivory undertone wears more muted rosy colors extremely well. Yellow or peachy undertones suggest deeper pigmentation, and the ability to wear bright colors or richer and deeper golden-based hues. Some skin tones are so balanced that they can wear both cool-based and warmer colors. Remember, there are no absolutes. Wearing what makes you feel good when you put it on should be the general rule. But bear in mind that you must wear the color; the color must never wear you.

The color you choose to wear to an interview can have a psychological impact on the interviewer. So choose carefully to avoid sending the wrong vibration. For example, red is associated with passion, ambition, desire, assertiveness, and self-sacrifice. It is the ³I am² color. If you are meeting someone for the first time, be careful about the red you select. Avoid reds with too much yellow; they can overwhelm you. Reds with more blue in them such as the wine colors (burgundy, maroon, merlot) or berry reds (cranberry, raspberry, currant) or brown reds (terra-cotta and brick) will be less intimidating. Red is also effective as an accent color in a scarf or pocket square.

Green has a cooler energy and, like the color of the forest, is calming, non-threatening, balanced, and restful to the eye. The deeper shades of green (fir, cucumber, and hunter) are terrific to wear to the interview and on camera as well.

Blue is the color of trust, loyalty, wisdom, and inspiration. Corporate executives in navy blue suits inspire confidence. It you want to appear credible and confident, wear blue.

Yellow is so bright and dynamic that it can cause anxiety and hyperactivity. It is more effective in a print design. Large doses should be avoided, unless you have a tan to balance the color. Orange may be the color of geniuses, extroverts, good negotiators, and safety on the construction site, but it cannot be worn by everyone.

Purple is the color associated with artists, writers, and spirituality. Michelangelo kept purple stained glass in his studio when he sculpted his masterpieces. Wagner wore purple robes to compose. Studies have shown that meditating on purple can reduce mental stress. So when you choose a royal purple to wear at the interview, you will be relaxing the pressure felt by the interviewer and, in turn, feeling connected to your creative center.

White is reflective and can upstage your face. Gray represents passivity and non-commitment. Black, technically, is the combination of all the colors, and not a color at all. It is distancing, lacks vibration, absorbs color and light, and can drain it from your face. Both gray and black keep your energy contained and rob you of vitality.

Neutrals like black, gray, brown and deep navy can always be enlivened by accessorizing with colorful scarves near your face or a string of multi-colored beads. Even a black-and-white ensemble can be enhanced with red or hot pink.

Color triggers memory more readily than your name. Actors who audition before a casting director, director or producer will observe them taking notes. After auditions, clients will frequently say, "You know I really liked the girl in the purple jacket," or Remember that guy with the red vest?"


Red: Ambitious, energetic, courageous, extroverted
Pink: Affectionate, loving, compassionate, sympathetic
Maroon: Sensuous, emotional, gregarious, overly sensitive
Orange: Competent, action-oriented, organized, impatient
Peach: Gentle, charitable, dexterous, enthusiastic
Yellow: Communicative, expressive, social, people-oriented
Green: Benevolent, humanistic, service-oriented, scientific
Light Blue: Creative, perceptive, imaginative, analytical
Dark Blue: Intelligent, executive, responsible, self-reliant
Mauve: Delicate, reserved, sensitive, encouraging
Purple: Intuitive, regal, spiritual, artistic
Brown: Honest, down-to-earth, supportive, structured
Black: Disciplined, strong-willed, independent, opinionated
White: Individualistic, egocentric, lonely, low self-esteem
Gray: Passive, non-committal, stressed, overburdened
Silver: Honorable, chivalrous, trustworthy, romantic
Gold: Idealistic, noble, successful, having high values

Red gives you an energy boost.
Pink relaxes mental tension
Maroon protects you from intrusive people.
Orange combats confusion.
Peach protects you from energy loss.
Yellow balances depression.
Green helps you deal with emotional stress.
Blue-green restores faith.
Dark blue protects against failure.
Mauve helps you stop worrying.
Purple reduces outside pressure.

Enjoy the power in your colorful palette.