Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s style usually makes a statement. There’s her signature red lip, favorite gold hoops and recently the fact that she snagged a coveted Teflar bag. Now she’s using fashion for another purpose: mental health.
“Time’s have been intense lately. I’ve been cheering myself up by wearing colors that make me happy,” the congresswoman wrote on Instagram, captioning a paparazzi photo of herself in a minty blue two-piece suit and sneakers.
AOC isn’t the only one to feel the effects of wearing certain colors. In fact, there’s science to back it up. According to the Smithsonian, the relationship between color and science was actually discovered in the 18th century when Johann Wolfgang Goethe developed a color wheel (yes, that wheel you learned about in 4th-grade art class) that described the psychological effect of each color.
“When you see certain colors, they have associations to them and those associations are linked to how they make us feel and behave,” Leslie Harrington, executive director of the Color Association of the United States, said in an interview with the HuffPost. “Warmer colors, brighter colors, we always talk about them being happier. That’s because they make us feel happy when we look at them.”
All of this has to do with a little something called color psychology, otherwise known as the study of colors in relation to human behavior. Jules Standish, author of How Not To Wear Black, discusses this phenomenon saying “when we look at certain colors it triggers neurological responses in the brain, and causes the hypothalamus gland to release hormones.”
Dopamine (known as the “feel-good hormone”), for example, gets released when looking at warm, bright colors, such as red or pink, she explained. “Cool blues, on the other hand, have been linked to the release of oxytocin, making you feel calm.”
This is why Ocasio-Cortez says that she feels more cheerful when she is wearing certain colors, like a light blue suit, as opposed to grey or black.
If feeling truly down, it’s important to consult a doctor. But if looking for a simple mood-booster, follow in AOC’s footsteps. Surely, she has great shoes, too.