The Science of Color

Untitled-2Last week I wrote about designer Tory Burch’s gorgeous new book, “Tory Burch in Color.” Her collections are known for including colorful fabrics and accessories and the book certainly shows her love of color. Even the book’s chapters are arranged by color!

The book ends with a very brief interview on the “science of color” with Dr. Samantha Boardman, one of Tory Burch’s friends. The interview really intrigued me – enough so that I wanted to learn more about this person.

With a little research I found that Dr. Boardman is much like Tory Burch. She also grew up privileged and well educated, with an intense interest in style and fashion. Both women share an enthusiasm for color and interior decorating. Both are strong career women and both are passionate about what is positive and good in life.

Dr. Boardman is a psychiatrist at Cornell Medical College, and just last year she added another degree to her M.D.: a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. On her website,, she writes, “I am a psychiatrist with little interest in what is wrong with people and a lot of interest in what is right with them. I care about the tweaks and changes that make a difference.”

Here are a few things I found interesting from the interview with Dr. Boardman in “Tory Burch in Color:”

  • Dr. Boardman agrees wholeheartedly with psychologist Ulrich Beer who said, “No one can encounter color and stay neutral. We are immediately, instinctively and emotionally moved. We have sympathy or antipathy, pleasure or disapproval within us as soon as we perceive colors.” That is indeed apparent, but I hadn’t thought about it in just that way. For instance, as soon as I see red or yellow, or I even hear someone say a color, my brain has a reaction.c
  • Her research has shown that colors affect how others treat us and how we see ourselves. “One of the first things we notice about someone is the color of what they are wearing,” she writes. “Waitresses wearing red lipstick receive bigger tips and studies show men find women in red clothing to be more attractive, more sexually desirable, and they tend to sit closer to them.  Ladies wearing red tend to feel more attractive – they stand taller, smile more radiantly and are more outgoing.”red
  • It turns out that the color pink can have a significant effect on behavior – a pink environment can make us nicer, gentler. “In the book ‘Drunk Tank Pink,’ Adam Alter describes how a certain shade of pink decreases aggression among prisoners and improves behavior,” says Dr. Boardman. “The University of Iowa’s locker room for visiting football teams is famously painted pink for the exact same reason – to calm opponents and put them in a passive mood.” UTEP Coach Sean Kugler, are you listening?c46ccd8a4edf2cbc44f905f86d3ff1b7

It is true that color is amazingly significant in our culture and in fashion. When women find out I’m supposed to be an expert in fashion, their first question is, “What color is in this year?” Here’s a finding from my own research: the number one reason certain items of clothing do or do not sell at Tres Mariposas is often the color of the item.

I like Samantha Boardman’s emphasis on positivity. According to an interview with her at twenties/, she lists just three activities as the most significant lifestyle/outlook changes a person can make for a more fulfilling and positive life.

  1. Sleep more.
  2. Build more activity into your daily life.
  3. Spend more time with friends face to face and less time looking down at your mobile device.

P.S. Coming soon: a report on the top colors forecasted for 2015

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