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Thu Mar 03 2016 |
Spring might not be here officially, but when it comes to clothes shopping, you couldn't find a “puffer” coat if your life depended on it. Everywhere I look, the stores are showing colorful spring clothes. From a Feng Shui perspective, the colors you wear affect your emotions and influence how others judge and respond to you. Each of the Five Elements
has specific characteristics, and when you wear the colors and shapes that represent that Element, you project these attributes. Elementally speaking, “you are what you wear.”
I wear the Fire Element
when I’m involved in communications. The colors are red, orange, and purple, the patterns are pointed designs and animal prints, the fabrics are satin and shiny textures, and the shapes are angular and form fitting. Red is the ideal color when you want to draw attention to yourself, so I wear it when I give a workshop.
I wear the Earth Element
to board meetings to feel stable and grounded. The colors are brown and yellow, the patterns are checks and plaids, the fabrics are tweed, flannel, textured, and the shapes are boxy. Yellow conveys stability so some people wear it when they have to make an important decision. I avoid yellow because it’s simply not my color. And that’s Feng Shui OK. No one should wear a color they don’t like.
I wear the Metal Element
to feel elegant. The colors are white, pastel, metallic, the patterns are round, dots, and scrolls, the fabrics are polished, glittery, and shiny, and the shapes are round. I love black polka dots on white fabric because that’s the perfect yin-yang balance. White can be a low-energy color, so I save it for more casual activities.
Full disclosure for the next Element: I’d be happy to wear only black, the color of the Water Element.
Think black and you get authority and strength. The other Water colors are navy and deep blue, the patterns are wavy, paisley, and abstract, the fabrics are sheer, and the shapes are flowing. Water Element clothes are great for artistic activities.
I wear the Wood Element
for fitness activities and when I want to feel active. The colors are green and blue, the patterns are vertical and stripes, the fabrics are cotton, linen, and ribbed fabrics, and the shapes are rectangular. Green represents growth so it's a great color to wear when I’m trying to learn a new skill or need a pop of energy. Green is a stimulating color so I don’t wear it when I need to feel grounded.
Check out some of my other blogs about Feng Shui colors
Thu Dec 31 2015 |
I like to start off each year by writing about my reaction to the Pantone's Color of the Year
forecast. Last year I was wild about Marsala,
and a few years before I was uncharacteristically charmed by Tangerine Tango, even though I'm not usually a fan of the color orange. I think it was that name.
Each year Pantone, the self-described color authority, forecasts the most popular colors that we'll see in decor, fashion, and graphic design. The announcement has a cult-like following among designers and retailers looking to improve sales, and among Feng Shui practitioners like me who want to know if they can use the color to enhance clients' homes and offices.
I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised when Pantone decided to break ranks this year and pick not one but two colors on which to bestow their annual honor - Rose Quartz #13-1520 and Serenity #15-3919. After all, wasn't this the year when the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year
wasn't even a word, but an emoji? Seems everyone is going out on a limb this year.
So what do I think of the Rose Quartz/Serenity duo? Frankly, from a Feng Shui perspective, not much. These colors are much too pale, cool, translucent, wishy-washy - how should I say it - well, wimpy, for how we need to balance ourselves considering the world we're facing these days. Both pastel colors represent the Metal Element that's associated with hardness. Personally and professionally, I'm recommending we go with a Water Element color that has more to do with flow and forward movement.
In all fairness to Pantone, blue is considered to be one of the lucky colors for the upcoming Year of the Monkey (white and gold are the other two), but we're talking about real blues here, with names like cobalt and indigo and lapis. One look at azure and denim and you know the world is going to be all right. Is there anything that says "don't mess with me" more than denim?
Now, my less-than-favorable reaction to the color-of-the-year combo may have a little something to do with the fact that light pink and light blue was the color scheme for my wedding - my first wedding, that is. But clearly that's a topic for another blog post.
So, I'm planning to sit back and watch to see if this "gender blurring" duo (Pantone's words, not mine) does take over the fashion and interior design world by storm (hah, as if either one could). In the meantime I'm surrounding my self and my clients with true Water Element blues in 2016. After all, you can never go wrong with basic navy.
Sun Mar 08 2015 |
I resisted for a while, but now I’m posting my thoughts about DressGate
- also known as #TheDress
– the social media phenomenon that asks you to decide whether a possible mother-of-the-bride dress is blue and black or white and gold. First, for the record, the dress is clearly light blue and brown, but that wasn’t one of the options so I’ve kept out of the debate.
No matter what color that darn dress really is, in Feng Shui we know that the colors you wear can be as influential as the colors you place in your surroundings. The Feng Shui discussion of color revolves around what we call The Five Elements
, and Wood
. Each has its own characteristic colors, so when you wear the color of a specific Element, you activate its corresponding energy. That means it does matter whether you wear a blue dress with black trim – the Water Element that represents movement and flow, or a white dress with gold trim – the Metal Element that represents strength and focus.
I did a little searching and found these cool facts about color and behavior.
A French study reported that female on-line daters received twice as many emails from potential dates when they wore red in their photos. “Red reminds people of how their face looks when they blush in the presence of someone they’re interested in,” says Adam Alter, author of Drunk Tank Pink
Blue may reduce criminal behavior.
After officials near Kyoto, Japan, installed blue streetlights in dangerous neighborhoods, the crime rate fell by 9%. “The lights mimic those atop police cars and seem to imply that the police are watching,” said Alter.
Strawberries are packed in green baskets to appear juicy.
These complementary colors make even imperfect berries appear more vibrant, says Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, the group that picks the color of the year
Red and yellow are go-to choices for fast food chains.
McDonald’s and Burger King use bright, warm colors that “leap” forward, beckoning you to the drive-through, says Eiseman, instead of cool colors that recede. These hues also stimulate the appetite because there are so many foods in those colors.
So for the record, what colors do I see for #TheDress?
Actually, the colors don’t matter because of those stripes. Horizontal stripes for the bride’s mom? You gotta be kidding!
Thu Jan 08 2015 |
I’ve put off writing about “Marsala,” Pantone’s Color of the Year 2015, because I couldn’t decide whether to consider it an Earth Element for its brown tones or a Fire Element for its red wine hues. Pantone’s glowing descriptions of Marsala weren’t much help because they ranged from “rich reddish brown” and “nurturing and fulfilling,” to “hearty yet stylish” and “stirring and flavorful.” Pantone also called Marsala “hinting at the dregs of a bottle of wine.” Wait, really? Is 2015 going to be characterized by what’s left at the bottom of a wine bottle? I do like this color, but that analogy doesn’t work for me from a Feng Shui perspective.
Each year Pantone forecasts the most popular colors that we’ll see in décor, fashion, and graphic design. The announcement has a cult-like following among designers and retailers looking to improve sales, and among Feng Shui practitioners like me who want to use the color to enhance clients’ homes and offices.
I must admit I’m not usually a fan of orange, but I was smitten with the Fire Element Tangerine Tango in 2012. Maybe it was just that great name. Emerald in 2013 was a terrific choice because it’s the Wood Element that represents growth, and we needed more of that while our economy was still recovering. Last year’s Radiant Orchid was a miss for me because we were already overwhelmed with too much Fire Element energy.
Other companies choose colors of the year but don’t necessarily agree, although earthy colors seem to dominate in 2015 choices. Sherwin-Williams picked Coral Reef
, and AkzoNobel chose Copper Orange
, both colors are Fire/Earth Element blends, while Benjamin Moore selected Guilford Green
, a Wood Element.
But, let’s get back to my dilemma of how to classify Marsala in terms of the Five Elements
. “Marsala enriches our mind, body, and soul, exuding confidence and stability,” says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute. Now there’s a Feng Shui description for a color of the year that I can live with.
Marsala is a hybrid because it has Earth Element brown at its root to keep you grounded, combine with a dab of Fire Element red to help you power up. My suggestion is to use Marsala as the Earth Element where you need more stability, but use it as the Fire Element where you want a bit more pizzazz.
Fri Nov 01 2013 |
What is it about the color pink
that makes you either love it or hate it? Mention pink Cadillac, pink flamingos, Pink Floyd, the Pink Panther, or a 1960s bathroom in Pepto Bismol pink, and everyone has a different reaction. One of the questions on my Feng Shui certification exam was, “Which color is the most calming?” Answer: Bubble Gum Pink. And then there’s the color of everything in my granddaughter’s closet – PINK. Pink has been used in some college locker rooms to lessen the power of opposing football teams. And, I couldn't resist writing about Drunk Tank Pink, a color thought to help calm even the most violent of offenders in prison.
In Feng Shui, pink is a Fire Element
color, especially the deeper shades. A combination of the color red and white, it’s thought to make a person concentrate more on the feminine aspect of life.
But, does the color pink really make strong men weak, violent prisoners calm, and football players too “chilled out” to beat their opponent?
The answer is “yes” and “no,” based on whether you believe opinion or fact.
Drunk Tank Pink
is officially a color called Baker-Miller Pink
, a tone that was originally created by mixing one gallon of pure white indoor latex paint with one pint of red trim semi-gloss outdoor paint. It’s named for the two Navy officers who first experimented with its use in the Naval Correctional Facility in Seattle at the request of researcher Alexander Schauss.
In the late 1960s, Dr. Schauss, Director of Life Sciences at the American Institute for Biosocial Research in Tacoma, Washington, studied the psychological and physiological responses to the color pink, especially one particular shade of pink. He found that merely looking at a card printed with this color resulted in "a marked effect on lowering the heart rate, pulse and respiration as compared to other colors,” especially after exercise.
In 1979, he convinced the correctional facility to paint some prison cells pink to determine the effects on the prison population. He found that this special shade of pink suppressed anger and anxious behavior among prisoners. "Even if a person tries to be angry or aggressive in the presence of pink he can't,” said Dr. Schauss. “The heart muscles can’t race fast enough. It’s a tranquilizing color that saps your energy. Even the color-blind are tranquilized by pink rooms."
Unfortunately, there were some issues beyond the early findings. First, there was no proof that these reactions to the color pink last longer than 15-30 minutes. And more important, although prisoners did respond and calm down, if they stayed “in the pink” too long they became even more violent.
But the legend of Drunk Tank Pink still lives on.
Perhaps that's what led to the strategy of painting the locker room for visiting football teams in a shade of pink. The University of Iowa's Kinnick Stadium
has been home to a unique visitor's locker room painted almost entirely in pink – walls, floors, showers, and even the toilets are pink. The legendary locker room is believed to be a key to the school’s home field success record. Of course, it has come under criticism for being sexist, but that’s the subject of another post.
So what does this mean in Feng Shui terms? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean that you need to replace your white toilets with the Drunk Tank Pink version. And, it doesn’t mean you have to surround yourself with the color if you find it too “girly.” But, a little accent of pink in your home and office can have a temporary soothing effect and lower your blood pressure.
Your don’t need splash pink on your bedroom and office walls, but you could think about adding a pair of pink pillow to your bed, drape a pink throw over your sofa, use pink Post-It notes in your office, or display pink flowers on your desk. Or, simply try to “think pink” as an accent when you pick out your clothes in the morning, especially if you will be working with a group that day, since the color pink can bring energies together. A little pink can go a long way.
Tue Oct 01 2013 |
People either love or hate the color orange. It's the color we associate with Halloween because it can get you in the mood for fun. Surrounding yourself with the color orange can make you feel energized, creative, and motivated, even if you don't really like the color.
But on the serious side, in both Feng Shui and in color therapy, the uplifting color orange is used to overcome abuse, shock, depression, and codependency. Some color therapists believe that If you don't like orange, it’s an indication that you need it for healing.
One vibrant example of the boldness of orange was the project call “The Gates,” where artists Cristo and Jeanne-Claude weaved miles of orange fabric gates throughout New York’s Central Park. The gates were an especially expressive demonstration of how powerful the color orange can be. You may not need to produce such drama with your use of the color orange, but you can add the color to your home and workplace in both dramatic and modest ways. Here are just a few Feng Shui ways to use orange:
Orange represents the Feng Shui Fire Element, so use it to power up a space located in the Fame, Reputation, or Love area of your home. Click here
to download a bagua from the Basics section of my website www.FengShuiForRealLife.com to find these areas in your home.
Choose orange, terracotta, or peach paint for a room where you need to bring people together, like your family room.
Orange in combination with other warm desert colors can stimulate collaboration in small offices.
Add some orange to your studio space when your creativity feels blocked.
Wear orange when you are meeting people for the first time and it will make you seem more approachable, especially if you're in a communications profession.
Surround yourself with the color orange if you are recovering from an accident, surgery, or a dental procedure.
If you are a family therapist or work with family groups, add orange accents to your office to symbolize joy in relationships.
Display orange flowers like gladiolus or begonias when you need to boost the energy in any commercial space.
Orange stimulates hunger, so use accordingly in your kitchen.
Throw orange pillows on the sofa or armchair, or hang artwork with orange accents to bring energy into a windowless office or dark room.
Avoid orange in a bedroom or any room where you want to avoid need intense focus and concentration.
What about you? Do you love or hate the color orange?
Fri Jan 25 2013 |
Pantone's Color of the Year for 2013 is Emerald
, the Wood Element
in Feng Shui that represents health and renewal. Pantone calls Emerald “lively, radiant, lush,” and a color of “elegance and beauty that enhances our sense of well-being, balance and harmony,” which certainly fits with the Feng Shui uses for this color. After a year of Tangerine Tango, the Feng Shui Fire Element, finally we get a color that represents much needed growth.
, a company that calls itself the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, explains that the selection of the “it” color for each year comes from international experts in the design, architecture, and fashion fields. The decisions draw on a variety of cultural influences such as fine art and technology, as well as social and economic trends.
“Green is the most abundant hue in nature -- the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. In Feng Shui as well as in the eyes of those Pantone experts, Emerald brings a sense of clarity and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world.
That would all be fine, except it looks like there’s mutiny in the ranks of color experts, because some paint companies have selected their own “top color,” giving us a rainbow of options beyond Emerald for the coming year. Think Indigo Night
, and Lemon Sorbet
, the world's largest paint and coating company, has declared Indigo Night
the 2013 Color of the Year because this “regal, tranquil, and introspective hue conveys a sense of trust and authority, maturity, and elegance.” Supposedly this is from a study of social and economic trends from around the globe. Indigo Night makes a bold and confident statement, the company tells us.
gives the Color of the Year title to soothing Aloe
. “Aloe boasts a hint of mint and lots of moxie," according to the company. “This is no ordinary pastel," says Jackie Jordan, Sherwin–Williams director of color marketing. "Aloe is funky and glamorous, demure and free-spirited. Aloe is midcentury meets 21st century.” Wow, moxie is lot to ask from one color.
is asking us to try a serving of Lemon Sorbet
this year. The paint company calls its Color of the Year "the perfect transitional color between the mid-tones and saturated colors seen in today's home furnishings and the softer, lighter pastels which are emerging for 2013." The company adds, "This beautiful yellow harmonizes with other trending pastels in the mint, coral, pink, blue, and vanilla families. Benjamin Moore says Lemon Sorbet is "uplifting without being overpowering."
And there’s even more dissention, because PPG Industries
, the world's second-largest paint company, didn’t choose one top color this year. In its trend forecast, PPG notes that color is not the topic of universal agreement, but that “all the coming trends have one thing in common—individual expression that is very well articulated."
In L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz
book, not the movie, when Dorothy first enters the Emerald City she sees rows of shops selling green articles of every variety, a vendor of green lemonade, and children buying it with green pennies. That’s a bit too green for me, but if you decided to go as green as Oz, you can buy all sorts of Emerald paraphernalia from Pantone
, from a Color of the Year mug to Emerald wallpaper for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC.
Emerald, Indigo, Aloe, Lemon – a girl would need a Wizard to help her choose.
What color choices will you make this year?
Mon Jan 10 2011 |
Feng Shui practitioners know that the color red
is the Fire Element
that represents passion, emotion, and power
. The Fire Element is the reason why you never have a long, leisurely meal in a restaurant decorated in shades of red, and why wearing a red dress is associated with a "hot date." Now, scientists have conducted studies to prove this. Researchers at the University of Rochester, Syracuse University, and other institutions found that women think men who are wearing red are more appealing and have a higher social status than men wearing other colors.
In a multicultural study involving almost 300 women in the US, Germany, England, and China, researchers asked the participants to look at photos of men wearing different color clothing. In one test, images were digitally altered so a man wore a red or green T-shirt, and in another test, black-and-white photos were placed on red or white backgrounds. In each case, the women reported that they found the men in red more desirable and powerful.
According to lead study author Andrew Elliot
, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, the charm of the color red is its ability to make men appear more powerful. "We found that women view men in red as higher in status, more likely to make money and more likely to climb the social ladder. And it's this high-status judgment that leads to the attraction," Elliot says.
Feng Shui practitioners already know this from working with clients who add some red accents to their life – including wearing red clothing – and find new “fire” added to their love lives, and now it’s good to have some scientific verification for this effect.
According to study co-author Richard Gramzow, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Syracuse University, “It's the color used to signify wealth and power, so it may convey a subconscious signal to women that a man will be a better provider.” The researchers found that the red effect made the man seem more powerful, attractive, and desirable, but did not make the man seem more likable, kind, or sociable. Perhaps that’s why in Feng Shui we recommend that you wear something red to a job interview, audition, or important meeting — like a red tie, scarf, or jewelry — to activate the Fire Element and ignite your personal power.
In Feng Shui the color red is considered hot, passionate, rich, and full of celebration. In Chinese culture, wearing red is the color of luck and happiness, in India it’s the color to wear for marriage, and in Western cultures it’s the color to wear as a symbol of love and romance. Red is also the color of protection in Feng Shui, so wear red whenever you feel the need to ward off negative energy, when you need to make a tough decision, or when you have to face down an adversary. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a red dress, red underwear, or a pair of ruby red shoes, the color red will empower and attract. Just try to avoid wearing too much of the color red at holiday dinners and large family gatherings when it’s heat and power could lead to arguments.
As fashion design Bill Blass said, When in doubt, wear red
Tue May 28 2013 |
Feng Shui practitioners love using the color blue because it represents the Water Element that brings the attributes of relaxation and calmness. Blue lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and helps overcome anxiety and lack of self-confidence. But in nature, beyond water and sky, it seems that the appearance of blue is actually quite rare and prized. My colleague Dana Claudat, who writes the great blog The Tao of Dana
, turned me on to a New York Times article
about the compelling appearance of blue in nature and all its implications. According to the Times
article, the color blue in its natural and artificial forms has shaped our notions of mood, social class, truth and divinity. From blueberries to blue cheese, from blue butterflies to peacocks, and including blue jeans and blue popsicles, the color blue seems to fascinate us.
In Feng Shui, we recommend you surround yourself with blue if you are stressed and need to chill out. It’s the paint color choice to help an author who is struggling with writer’s block, or for anyone aspiring to an IT career, but it’s the color to avoid if you suffer from SAD or the winter blues.
Scientists, too, have lately been bullish on blue as they explore the physics and chemistry of blueness in nature. Some researchers are tracing the history of blue pigments in human culture, and the role those pigments played in shaping our notions of virtue, authority, divinity and social class. “Blue pigments played an outstanding role in human development,” said Heinz Berke, an emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Zurich. For some cultures, he said, blue pigments were as valuable as gold.
The love of blue is global:
• Ask people their favorite color, and in most parts of the world roughly half will say blue, a figure three to four times the support accorded common second-place finishers like purple or green.
• One in six Americans is blue-eyed, but nearly one in two people consider blue the prettiest eye color, which may be why 50 percent of tinted contact lenses are those that make your brown eyes blue.
• Sick children like their caretakers in blue: A recent study at the Cleveland Clinic found that young patients preferred nurses wearing blue uniforms to those in white or yellow.
• In a study that appeared in the journal Perceptual & Motor Skills
, researchers at Aichi University in Japan found that subjects who performed a lengthy video game exercise while sitting next to a blue partition reported feeling less fatigued and claustrophobic, and displayed a more regular heart beat pattern, than did people who sat by red or yellow partitions.
• Field studies of color-coded insect traps have shown that mosquitoes are particularly attracted to blue.
According to the Times
article, blue light is on the high-energy end of the visible spectrum, and the comparative shortness of its wavelengths explains why the blue portion of the white light from the sun is easily scattered by the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in our atmosphere. And that’s why, when we look up and see a Feng Shui blue sky, it makes us smile.