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  • Writer's pictureSara Marsden-Shreeve

Be a Colour Ninja!

Be a Colour Ninja; Colour Confidence, The Image Tree Blog
Colour Makes a Statement

Hello Girls...Truth Time...Is your wardrobe a see of black or a Technicolour Dream?

Well if its the former, bless you..its time to stop hiding because I am going to share with you some` truth nuggets' about colour and its proposed affects.

Yes it can be your friend and you can make it your 'Secret Weapon' Ninja Style by using it in your clothes, shoes and bling! I kid you not ladies, it can be used to help you get more from both your work life and social life as well as expressing yourself. A bit sceptical, well just try one of my colour tips and see what happens...I dare you.

Colour is everywhere and whether we consciously notice it or not, it can play a part in emotions, decision making and non verbal communication. Huh? Sounds deep!

Well there's a massive marketing strategy and psychology mindset (Chromology) based around colour and how it's used to make things more appealing to us, whether it's used for packaging, corporate branding, advertising or interior design.

Be a Colour Ninja, The Image Tree Blog
Colour is used to build a brand

It's not surprising really as colour is registered by the brain before imagery or wording. The kinds of colours used, whether on their own or with others, can whip up a sense of feeling about a product. For example, orange is often used to promote vitamins, health, youthfulness and vitality (Nickleodeon and Easy Jet muscled in on this too)

Humans are, whether you like or not, visual creatures who rely, initially, on what we see (body language, facial features, appearance etc) to give us clues or impressions (rightly or wrongly) about another human, before they even speak. So, if branding does this for products why can't clothes and colour for people?

Our emotions towards colours are of course subjective to personal taste. How many times have you swooped in on a garment from the racks solely for the colour? "Ah yes I fancy a bit of grey for work...AGAIN"!

Alternatively, you could make a beeline for the bright red dress .."I want to be noticed this time...."

So then, let's look at some colours and see if you can STEALTHILY use them in your life., Ninja-like! I've broken the colours up into sections so that you can skip to the ones you like to wear or try out the colours missing in your wardrobe.


If you want to be noticed, this is a useful colour to use about your person. It's the longest wavelength in the colour spectrum and needs more adjustment by the eye, therefore highly stimulating to our little brains and visually lunges forward, which is probably why we're so responsive to it. Red Bull got it right in their logo.

  • For corporate presentations or public speaking go for a focus of red using a tie or necklace, lipstick or scarf around the neck to draw the eye to your face, this is your communication centre after all. People will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. Barack Obama was aware of it's power and often wore a red tie when speaking.

We associate red with assertiveness and power but take heed, it can be construed as being aggressive or demanding if used in excess or in the wrong situations.

  • A red dress to the office redundancy meeting may give out the wrong signals

  • The right red for your colouring will make more of an impact if you want to make a statement.

Red physically increases the heart rate and raises your blood pressure, so its associations with romance, passion and fertility across many cultures may not sound so crazy. ooh la la.

Red Colour associations, Be a colour ninja, The image Tree Blog
Red is assertive and Powerful Ladies

  • This gem of a study I found shows how men respond more positively (not in a seedy way either) to women wearing red ( see

  • Maybe its time to wear a flattering hue on a first date or even use it somewhere on your online dating profile piccie! Don't go mad, remember Ninja like! You never know.


Apparently this is Britain's favourite colour and it's true for both males and females and not really gender specific anymore. The darker shades of navy and royal blue are synonymous with a feeling of loyalty, trust and professionalism and are popular choices for uniforms and Corporate logos.. PayPal, RBS, IBM to name but a few.

  • So use it well in a professional working wardrobe to promote the same associations and it's a great basic for an interview. If you want to project a bit of authority pair it with lighter coloured separates or accessories, high contrast gives a sense of "I know my stuff".

  • There is also research to show that blue painted offices enjoy a better work productivity amongst analytical fields such as accountancy due to it's links with logic and concentration. (See ) If you work from home try a blue in your office/studio.

Be a Colour Ninja, the image tree blog
The Power of Blue at Work

  • On the flipside it can be considered a little aloof and cold so be aware of the darker hues if you work in a youthful, vibrant and funloving environment, it may seem a little too grown up. Go a little brighter and lighter instead, its much more refreshing.

  • Brilliant blues are dynamic and dramatic - exhilarating even. These can add gusto to an outfit yet still remain professional. again your accessories ladies. Ninja like!

  • Lighter, warmer shades create a much more peaceful and freer look, think lying back and looking at the clear blue sky or drifting on a boat in azure waters. Oh god, now i want to go on holiday. No wonder I love turquoise.

  • Ooh speaking of holidays, mosquitoes are attracted to blue twice as much as any other colour, youve been warned.


When we think of green our minds usually think aahhh, restful, calming, trees....zzzz sorry dozed off there.

It's the middle wavelength in the colour spectrum and needs no eye adjustment and so is less stimulating to the brain, see already our senses are relaxing. It envelopes the feeling of nature which many brands and vocational sectors such as therapists, natural product designers and planet friendly companies (BP ironically) have rightfully latched onto.

  • Whether It promotes a freshness via a minty green or a lushness in a rich Sherwood green, you could try wearing it, maybe to face a stressful day or to work through a grievance at work/social life. Even better sit in a green room, don't laugh, that's what these showbiz types are put in before going on live tv or radio.

  • A bright green is a vibrant colour that gets noticed, if you wear the right one and luckily this season green is getting a look in, so fill your boots.

  • If you're a therapist, counsellor or general stress reliever I urge you to keep colours softer and gentler and definitely inject a little green or blue (clear thinking) somewhere. The lower the contrast between colours, the more approachable we seem and allows for openness.

Photo by Matthias Cooper from Pexels, Be a colour ninja, Green, The Image Tree Blog
Happy and Approachable Green

  • There is a flip-side of course, beware the 'dirty' greens, you know that cheese mould green and general slimy mucus-like shade which shouts " dont eat me or i'll make you puke" sort of message. Not so bad if there used in a print but not great as a stand alone.


Its quite common to suddenly think "Cadburys", this is a case of perfect colour branding, this hue of purple denotes luxury, smoothness, decadence and a bit naughty. Well now I want a bit. Colour is power my friend, oh but the taste does factor in this case.

  • A special evening occasion or maybe a dinner date, you see where im going with this. Satin, velvet, silk ahoy...are you feeling it yet? Dress to impress with this one.

  • Purple has long been associated, over here anyway, with royalty and wealth probably due to once being the most expensive dye to produce. A good quality leather bag or shoe in a rich warm purple (wine and plum tones) always looks more expensive and can make a good impression.

  • It can also project a feel of wisdom, mystery and creativity as well as being particularly favoured in all things spiritual. If you're into meditation and deep contemplation etc its a good one to project this in your attire on both a professional or personal level. It may help you clear your mind too. Keep it soft for that approachable feel for clients, if necessary.

  • Be aware though that purple is easy to get wrong and can create unease because as it gets darker and cooler it gets very introvertive and gloomy. If youre really pale and fair haired a dark purple can be a colour drainer if worn on its own.

  • Whereas warmer, brighter or lighter purples make us feel more exotic and livelier, defintely a great one to wear on holiday or if you live here...on a rare sunny day. It also looks good with its complimentary colour, yellow.

Purple Colour associations, Be a Colour Ninja, the Image Tree Blog
Exotic and Lively if Bright


If you're a yellow lover and wearer, I salute you! Although its a colour that's the most highly visible, bright, sunny and cheery (think McDonalds logo) its not a colour most people go for and is extinct in some wardobes. Why? Because its a hard one to master and it scares people. This is definitely colour ninja time!

  • If you're undertone is cool, wearing a warm yellow can make you look a little jaundiced. not a good look. If unsure try costume jewellery first, they're cheaper and you'll find one that suits your skin tone sooner. Alternatively contact me for a full colour analysis. BOOM.. plug over.

  • Science bit - due to high amount of light reflection it is synonymous with eye strain and general eye fatigue if exposed to it for a duration, so don't go head to toe in 'hi viz' you may give onlookers a head ache, mwah mwah..

  • It has links to frustration and people generally losing their tempers and in one research paper it was found that babies cried more in yellow rooms. Too bright, too mentally stimulating.

  • Use this to your advantage though f you're stuck for ideas, they reckon yellow is great for think tanks and enhancing creativity.

yellow colour associations, Be a Colour Ninja, The Image Tree Blog
Rich and Deep Yellows often suit darker features

  • From softer pastels to richer tones, yellow can look great with pinks, oranges and blues, think sugared almonds or sunsets. ahh. I think yellow gets a hard time, it can definitely look good as a statement and you wont be overlooked if its done right.

  • There's a mustard yellow trending in the shops at the moment, if you're quite a warm coloured skintone or a red head this is a definite one to try.


Barbie, Cosmopolitan and Johnson&Johnson, to name but a few drum up delicate, femininity and maternal connotations. Pink has also been recently defined as 'the most none threatening colour'! These are the obvious stereotypes and because of this some women avoid it like the plague and some wear it to death. Charity brands aimed at the female genre shower us with pink all the time but it can be empowering!

  • A study done in the US sometime ago found that a certain shade of pink 'Drunk tank pink' was found to calm inmates down when they were placed in pink painted cells. How can we use this, well maybe pink could be worn to diffuse a 'situation' or calm an office brimming with testosterone? Dont use it as a constant though, as it was later proved to be affective for only a short time, over-exposure caused them all to get a lot more lairy. (see )

  • Why not introduce a bit more pink into your partners wardrobe? Believe it or not British men have become more agreeable to it in the fashion sense, since 2007 and its still on the up. Its more fashionable and cutting edge for a man to wear a bit of pink and may prove to be advantageous to your relationship, especially if hes having a mid life crisis and wants to relive his youth.

  • Pink also stimulates in a sensual kind of way, as its a derivative of the assertive red but mellowed with the purer aspects of white so feels more light hearted. Its passionate and sensual without the oomph of aggression. Defintiely a hue to tap into here ladies, it can feel empowering. Well I do when i wear it.

Pink colour, Be a colour ninja, The Image Tree Blog
Pink can be empowering yet gentle

  • If you like a hot pink, try wearing it with navy its a lot softer than black and works great on darker or brighter skintones.

  • Equally a softer candy like pink looks very chic with a camel or caramel like colour on fairer and/or warmer skins, honestly!


The scientists amongst us will argue that white is a colour (white light) and that black is not (the absence of light) but it matters not today. Whatever, your stance we wear them and like them a lot. Black and white in branding is very chic, Chanel, CK or it can be funky or to the point like Adidas, WWF or MTV.

  • Black is a favourite in most garment forms because it makes us feel safe and doesn't stand out, if in doubt wear black. However, it is also elegant, powerful and indeed a good backdrop to let other aspects of your outfit shine eg a statement necklace, a shoe, or your personality and curves.

  • It can be a little menacing and intimidating if not used correctly, imagine it as a nurses uniform in a hospital environment you'd scare the daylights out of people. Warm and friendly it isn't!

  • In media and design circles, its edgy and modern to wear for work.

Black and white, Be A Colour Ninja, The Image Tree Blog
Monochrome is edgy and bold

  • Is it slimming? Yes it is, but just remember other dark colours do the same thing and can be a lot more flattering, so don't limit yourself to just black please..

  • White is useless as a logo on its own for obvious cant see it but pair it with other colours and it springs to life. It has a feeling of both purity and cleanliness depending on how its used. Idolised in wedding dresses (over here) but has a bad reputation in general for being unflattering and a little clinical.

  • I think it can make major statements in lace, leather and jewellery. Pearls are particularly a good "neutral" to use with most outfits.

  • If you're smaller up top than your bottom half you can use a plain white shirt or jacket to balance you out as it gives the illusion of increased surface area. In fact all lighter colours generally do this.

  • When you put it with black, it sings authority. Why do you think the police, security staff and judges wear monochrome? Such a high contrast demands to be noticed and obeyed, they wouldn't hold as much presence if they wore beige. If you want to create an air of order, try black and white, doesn't have to be a suit, though they do say "power" a lot stronger in an office environment.

  • On a more trend led point, monochrome always appears in some form over the fashion seasons so is always an investment, if it suits. If not, go for handbags, bangles and ooh of course shoes. These are great if you're not too power crazy and are great neutrals to use with all colours.

Well I've twittered on long enough but I hope you can gain some insight into how colour is so important in our visual lives and maybe incorporate some sneaky tweaks into yours...and please do let me know how you get on.

I've got loads of lovely colour boards on Pinterest, so go have a nosey.


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Sara xx

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