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What Color Are You Wearing on Your Date?— Pick Red, Psychologists Are Saying

Did you know that the color you wear can affect your desirability to strangers?

Turns out it can. In fact, according to psychologists, both sexes find the other to be more attractive when they are wearing red. Indeed, red is the color for Valentine’s Day for a reason!

Why do we like the color red?

Have you ever heard the saying, “I’m seeing red”? Red, in fact, is associated with the whirlwind of high-arousal emotions.

Red is the warmest of all colors, and it’s long-wavelength makes it the most visible color (Cherry, 2020). While cool colors like blue and purple are usually thought of as calming, red is exciting. It is the color of fire, anger, power, and love.

Think about the amount of times you have bit into a red delicious apple, strawberries, pomegranate seeds, or cherries. Think about a time you craved a glass of red wine. Now, imagine your favorite luxury chocolate—does it usually come in a red box? Red stimulates passion everywhere.

Red is also contradictory; it is often used in warning labels, stop lights, sirens, and fire engines. It is naturally associated with danger, as it is also the color of blood. Studies even show that being exposed to red heightens one’s respiration and heart rate (Cherry, 2020). And yes, there is a reason that Christian Grey’s room in the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey is red.

What does research say?

A  study in 2010 shows that both men and women with a heterosexual orientation find members of the other sex, but not the same one, more sexually appealing when they are wearing red rather than blue (Elliot et al., 2010). Overall, research shows that women seem more sexually receptive when wearing red than when they are wearing something else (Pazda et al., 2014). As a result, heterosexual men are actually more likely to ask out women in red (Elliot & Niesta, 2008).

What about behavior?

As I said, men are more likely to ask you out if you are wearing red (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). In addition, if you are in a relationship, he is more likely to be cognizant of where you are when you are wearing red than when you are wearing something else (Prokop & Pazda, 2016). This phenomenon seems to be well received. On days of the month that they are most fertile, women are three times as likely to wear red (Eisenbruch et al., 2015). And, heterosexual women are more likely to wear red when they expect to meet an attractive man (Elliot et al., 2013).

This exchange goes two ways— in a study published by the American Psychological Association, 25 men and 32 women looked at a black and white photo of a man in a polo shirt and were asked to rate him in attractiveness on a one to nine scale. Women who looked at men surrounded by red rated them over a point higher than the women looking at men surrounded by white (Elliot et al., 2010). In follow-up studies, women responded to men in either red or gray on their attractiveness and status (Elliot et al., 2010). These studies suggest that women view men in red as more sexually attractive because red is a symbol of higher status.

The bottom line.

So there you have it— wear red on your next date, or to that party. That is if you are looking for a partner. You just might find yourself exactly what you came for.

Scotland Martin is a junior at Wake Forest University and is currently pursuing a major in Psychology with minors in Writing and Italian. In addition to Her Campus, Scotland is involved with Psychology Club, K-12 tutoring, research in social psychology, and the Delta Zeta Sorority. She concentrates her writing on the topics of ethical spending and psychology.
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