Color Courage


Are you afraid of color? I never really thought much about this until recently, when I read a piece of research done in the UK that says that more than half of Britons would like to use more color in their lives, but are worried about the opinions of friends and family. Granted, this research was conducted by Dulux, a paint company, so take this with the appropriate grain of salt. But the findings seem to support what I see and hear in my research on joy. Color makes things vibrant, lively, personal — but it also can be intimidating.

Many people are afraid of getting color “wrong.” It’s safer to stick with grays and neutrals, rather than risk “making a mistake” with a bright hue. Others worry about standing out too much (21% of people, according to the Dulux research). And I wonder if that has a personality dimension to it — perhaps introverts might be even more cautious with color, but I haven’t found any research to that effect yet. I also notice that many people feel that bright color is childish, believing that they need to graduate to dimmer, darker hues as they “grow up.” Fully 44% of respondents in the Dulux survey said that they still loved their favorite color from childhood, but are reticent to use it in their adult lives.

Well, all this color confusion and caution can stop right here. Adding color is one of the cheapest ways to make your home (or office, car, wherever!) more joyful. Wearing color can transform the way that people interact with you. Eating more colorful foods is even good for your diet (assuming here that “colorful foods” is not a rainbow of French macarons). Color isn’t always easy to incorporate, but it can have a powerful effect on everyday life. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s worth the effort! So, welcome to Color Courage, a semi-regular series that will offer inspiration and tips for bringing more vibrancy to different aspects of life.

We start with shoes, because hey, if you want to gain some color courage, try literally standing out. Personally, I’ve always found this a pretty easy, low-risk way to add color to my life. Shoes are generally not the first thing people notice about you, so you can have some fun with them. I went through a phase in my mid-twenties where I went out in black all the time and just wore really colorful shoes. It was always fun when people sized me up as super-serious and then looked down at my feet. Colorful shoes can also be surprisingly versatile. I was really unsure whether I’d wear a pair of yellow lizard skin heels I bought on one of those throw-caution-to-the-wind shopping trips with my mom. But the ended up being the staple that went with everything, from a black dress to a pair of jeans to a camel suit (back when I wore suits, that is!). See below for the sources of the colorful shoes above, and stay tuned for more Color Courage soon!

1. Marimekko Spring 2016, 2. Tom’s shoes, by moustachic, 3. Margaux ballet flats in Poppy, 4. Sezane Ulysse sandals, 5. Tom’s by chloeknows, 6. Sezane Cruise Courts, 7. Saint Laurent Paris Pumps worn by Reese Witherspoon (who gets an A+ in color courage for her closetful of colorful heels).

Hey, Guess What?

The Aesthetics of Joy is now a book! Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness is now available.

Learn more

Leave a Comment