I’m not sure which came first, my dark wardrobe or my perpetually melancholy mood. Upon spring cleaning, which for me merely meant opening my closet and staring at its overwhelmingly messy contents vacantly, I realized something: nearly all of my clothes range from gray to black. My shoes, while mostly scuffed and muddy, are black. My coats are black. Hell, even my pajamas, which include a crazed concoction of stolen boyfriend shirts, are all gray and black. I felt like I was onto something and so I turned to the Internet to see if there’s a psychological correlation between mood and color. As it turns out, according to the theory and practice of chromotherapy, it’s a very real thing.
So naturally, as any manic, self-obsessed writer does, I broke up with my therapist and combed through the almanac of esteemed alternative healers until I found Sophia Hansen, M.A., a certified chromotherapist and Harvard University graduate. Upon contacting her, I was beyond delighted to fathom the possibility of enhancing my mood with color or removing my gothic moodiness with the dismissal of a black wardrobe. But first things first, I wanted to fully understand what chromotherapy was and become convinced that it was not a concept contrived by a unicorn-chasing cult or after-school witch club.
"Chromotherapy is a form of energy healing that uses colors from the spectrum of light. Every color of the spectrum holds a specific wave frequency pattern of electromagnetic energy that human beings interpret through the retina of their eyes," explains Hansen. "The color that you perceive is part of the visible spectrum of light frequency that's naturally reflected by a certain object. Colors can significantly affect moods, feelings, and emotions whether somebody is consciously aware of it or not."
According to Hansen, color therapy has been around for thousands of years. It turns out, in the ancient times of Atlantis, there were many great healing temples with large rooms and domes made of colored crystals, allowing color to filter through the rooms when the sun was out. These temples healed physical, mental, and emotional illnesses, and people were treated with different colors depending on their condition, each color possessing its own unique healing property. There are records of cures with color therapy in ancient Egypt going all the way back to 1550 B.C., with similar healing temples being used to cure the malaises of the time.
"In ancient Greece, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle developed some of the early theories about light and color. Ancient Greece also had healing temples that used color therapy with colored light and gemstones. Interestingly, the ancient Chinese, up until modern times, diagnosed illness by the color of the pulse. For example, a red pulse indicates a numbness in the heart, a yellow pulse indicates a healthy stomach," Hansen says. "And finally, in India and Ayurvedic medicine, ills were and are treated with gemstones. The philosophy is that gemstones contain the pureness of the color and vibrations of the colors of the universe."
Okay, so color therapy is not some new-age hippy theory—it’s an ancient, international, multicultural practice. I asked Hansen whether it is possible that my all-black wardrobe and colorless surroundings were negatively influencing my mood and overall vibes. And if so, should I go out and exchange all of my warlock threads for rainbow-bright ones instead? "If someone is accustomed to wearing black, they might feel a bit off-balance or even emotionally uncomfortable if they only wore bright, vibrant colors and no black right away," says Hansen. "A gentle way to incorporate color into a wardrobe, especially for someone who's been comfortable wearing black for a while, would be to add one color at a time. You'll want to make your transition to incorporate the higher frequencies of color into your wardrobe as comfortable as possible—and take notice of how others respond to you when you begin wearing colors!"
With Hansen’s guidance, I decided to give the color wheel a spin. Slowly and thoughtfully, I switched out various pieces of my dark wardrobe for colors, with purpose. What I found will surely make you a believer, but before you actually ditch your gothic vibes, know this:
According to color therapy, the color black is either the absence of color or the mixture of every color. It reflects the notion of No-Thing-Ness which leaves it open to interpretation. On one hand, that's great because it represents potential and protection. However, it also signifies the rejection or renunciation of color itself. It's the ultimate color of surrender and relinquishment. So if you're going to wear black, wear it with intention, know why you're wearing it, and be conscious about it.
Read on to find out how my experiment went.
I love my black Nikes. I wear them even when I’m not going to the gym—they’re the most low-key shoes I own. But they’re also pretty blah. When I switched them out for these Free Transform Flyknit bright blue beauties, I was stoked to go to the gym. I didn’t think too much of it because I wanted to be sure it wasn’t the rush of having something new and clean that I was excited to show off. But as I worked out, I couldn't stop looking at my feet. I nearly face-planted twice on the treadmill because it was so pleasing to look at the color. For over a week now, I’ve been feeling more energized at the gym. This bright blue makes me confident and makes me want to dance. According to Hansen, I felt this way because blue is an expressive and transformational color. It made me want to change my routine and attitude.