What does color have to do with how we dress?

What does color have to do with how we dress?

What does color have to do with how we dress?

Every once in a while, I think about the meme that says something along the lines of, “She only wears black, but she dreams in color” and it makes me smile. It is no secret that when it comes to a lot of the ideas I have over here at MB’s HQ that black is the shade of choice. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love color. Do you remember the red GG Technical turtle neck from 2022? I sure do! And this year, I am happy to say that we will begin offering more options, but in a way that sticks to an intentional color story. 

Let’s dive into what makes colors so impactful, what certain colors can say without speaking a word, and how choosing colors for your apparel can change your mood. I also included some horse and art related references for good measure. 

Fun (somewhat horse related) Facts about Color:


+When it comes to classic artwork that has horses in it-I found that white horses were the most commonly portrayed color. This makes so much sense, and I have noticed it before- and that is where color symbolism comes into play.

+Gandalt rode a white horse (Shadowfax) in the Lord of the Rings books. 

+The Bible even mentions a white horse ridden by one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 

+In Native American cultures, a white horse is seen as a symbol of purity and spiritual grace. 

+Unicorns are white. Pegasus, the original Pegasi is white too (although his offspring can be of varying colors). 

+Lady Godiva by John Collier uses much color symbolism- it depicts a gray horse adorned with red and gold. The red quarter sheet draped over the horse highlights that the rider has no clothes on, as well as showcasing her posture, a very purposeful point of the entire artwork. 

+Racing silks are color focused and there is a great deal of history and meaning behind these garments. The origin of them dates back to Henry VIII, but they gained popularity in the 18th and 19th century as a way to be able to decipher who was who from a far distance, and crowded space. They became especially important as racing grew in popularity during that time. 

+Even Eventing riders are known for their colors. I think branding comes into play here, but also athletes can be superstitious so I would be interested to know more about how each rider has chosen their color and how it changes depending on the event or location, etc. 

+Color plays into our stereotypes or archetypes with horses as well: think red mare energy, and white hooves. 


+Color plays an important role in different Equestrian niches-think coat colors in Hunters and “whites” in dressage. Recent rule changes have allowed for more creativity but many people love the idea of sticking to traditional colors in many niches. 

+Color plays a role in what we wear based on the season when it comes to functionaliy-some people prefer dark colors in summer to hide sweat marks, even if they feel as though it makes them more warm. Others prefer not wearing a cooler color because of how it shows dirt-inevitable in our world for sure. 

+Stock Ties- made of white silk were worn in the 1700’s. White pants were worn by men for riding from very early on, and that tradition (along with red hunt coats) still continues for many events today. 

+Blue Horse I by Franz Marc is just that- a famous and beautiful painting of a blue horse, surrounded by purples, yellows and greens (and a little red). Interpretations of the art believe that Marc painted the horse blue because it conveyed a sense of wanting peace during the time of the painting, whereas others believe it was about spirituality. 

Now some Non-equestrian color fun facts: 

+Researchers estimate that most humans can see around one million different colors.

+The first color used in art was red- from ochre. And the first known example of cave art was a red ochre plaque, which contains symbolic engravings, diamond shapes with lines and dated to over 75,000 years ago. 

+Yellow was poisonous. Many of the early compounds that made up yellow paint ingredients (like arsenic and lead chrome) were especially poisonous. Later versions were less so, thankfully. Artists like Vermeer and van Gogh are known for their pairings of yellow and blue and yellow and purple, respectively. 

+If it weren’t for black we wouldn’t have masterful paintings like Saint Joseph, the Carpenter, whose black creates the illumination of the candle light conveyed so beautifully by Georges de La Tour. 

+Queen Victoria wore only black for 40 years after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. 

+Where black and white meet, comes gray. Gray is known to evoke neutrality. Have you ever heard something bland be referred to as gray? It is common for gray to be seen as a boring color. But it’s much more than what we give it credit for. 

+Gray plays a role in the history of clothing color. After the start of World War I when German innovation in dyeing textiles was blocked due to a blockade set up by the British, American clothing manufacturers were without the patented dyes they had used for years prior. One of the only colors that the US (New York, in particular was America’s garment manufacturing hub at the time) could make on their own was Battleship Gray. 

+The 1930’s brought about a color revolution to the US, as more companies worked on creating dyes that lasted and were made with higher end ingredients. Everyone got in on the revolution with companies from General Motors to Sears creating colors to use for their products. 

Now that we have some fun facts out of the way, how has color impacted what we wear?


+For a very long time, only the wealthy wore deeply saturated, heavily pigmented bright colors. Reasons for this included the cost of the ingredients that made up dye for clothing, with it being said that Cleopatra had a dress that required snails soaked for many days in order to get one ounce of dye for just one of her dresses. 

+During his reign, King Henry VIII insisted on royalty being the only people allowed to wear purple. Purple has long been associated with royalty and status, mostly due to the cost of acquiring ingredients to make it but also because creating it was time intensive. 


The most fascinating part of color and symbolism for me is that the emotional or psychological response of color is dependent upon the person. What that means for me is that adding color into your daily life or wardrobe in general adds a level of excitement.

It is important to note that gender, national origin and other factors mean that perception of color can vary. I find this fascinating and a lovely sentiment where we can have so many nuanced conversations around color and our wardrobe. 


I also would like to (kinda) challenge the idea of color matching. Wear colors that make you feel a certain way, regardless of how they present you to the outside world. Send your intended message via color choice, and don’t feel pressured to accept that you don't “look good enough” to wear what colors bring you joy. 


Here are a few tidbits about our favorite colors:


For the Greeks, red meant heroism. It is the color of passion, blood and hearts. In Asia, red is the color of luck and it is also a universal sign for a stop. Women are typically drawn to more berry shades of red, whereas men who were given a choice preferred a tomato shade instead. 

Red can increase heart rate, and its long wavelength makes it one of the first and most visible colors in the whole spectrum, a clue as to why it is used in so many important ways.


Blue is the world’s most favorite color. Deep blues such as navy convey trust and intelligence whereas light blue is a color believed to evoke spirituality and serenity. Also worth noting is how our eyes view blue, which is different from how we view other colors. 


The positive color psychology behind yellow is strong. It is the color of happiness, originality and excitement. But it also has been used in slang historically, as another word for cowardice. 


Green is seen as soothing and is associated with nature by many. It is a great color for relaxing and a great all season color if you prefer to stay within the realms of color seasonality…we encourage you not to, but it’s up to you! 

So how do you choose a color for your garments and outfit choice? 


Look at what colors you currently have and how to build upon them, and take notice of what types of clothing it is that you have with bold vs subdued colors.

When shopping, make a point of remembering how certain colors make you feel. Think about existing items of clothing and how they would pair with a new item. 

Most of all, if you are constantly feeling like you do not have anything to wear that you love, it might be as simple as needing to change up the colors of your wardrobe. 

If you are trying out a product for the first time, choose a neutral color first to try on. This will help you see the garment more for the fit, comfort and tailoring and less from an emotional perspective such as loving the color alone. 

Since so much of what we wear is based on how we want the world to perceive us, color can be a fantastic way to project how you feel inside, to the outside world. 

And remember, when it comes to riding clothes, you are absolutely allowed to wear what you want. Your skill level or abilities as a rider have no bearing on whether you should wear something colorful or not. 

Gone are the days where a beginner rider or amateur cannot wear the same clothes a professional does. Only when it comes to showing does proper attire matter, and that is a totally different topic than what we are discussing today. 


Go with your gut when it comes to buying something colorful. If there is a deep need or a strong reservation, listen to that. Use color as a way to amplify your feelings for the day. 

Feeling strong and bold? Go with a power red, a bold stripe (shameless plug for our Charlie shirt found here).

Feeling anxious or feeling the need to be grounded? Look for earthy colors like browns and greens. Need some uplifting? Try yellow. Or even take a cue from Queen Victoria and wear your heart on your sleeve. Use color to lean into your feelings and help you. 

Too much at one time? Go with an accessory that allows you to dip your feet into adding color to your life. We love socks, so these Dreamers and Schemers socks are a favorite: https://dreamersnschemers.com/collections/all-socks/products/downward-dog-retro-socks or these drool worthy socks that have a pop of color https://imogeneandwillie.com/products/the-dead-wrong-sock

Other creative ways to add color are through scarves (we prefer Wild Rags), belts and purses. Other items like sweaters or even hair ties, ribbons or clips also add color without you having to make large changes, purchases or feel like a different version of yourself. One of my favorite ways to add color is to wear a colorful coat with my all black ensemble. 

Challenge ideas that certain colors can only be worn at certain times or during certain seasons. Color usage, the when and why is up to you. Want to wear pastels in winter? DO IT. Deep burgundy or all black in spring-YES! 

Challenge color combination traditions if you are nervous of going too far from your typical all black or all neutrals outfit. If blue is how you want to expand color into your clothing, try blue and black together even though old school advice goes against it. 

Still nervous? Add colors that use a traditional aesthetic like camels, tans and creams added to your black wardrobe staples.

No matter what color you feel like you want to invest in, choose classic silhouettes or styles that are complimentary to your body or are similar to already owned pieces. That way it is less of a trend focused purchase and more of a long term investment. 

And remember, if a garment is comfortable and fits you well, color is icing on the cake. Use it to your advantage! 

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this post and I cannot wait to show you how we are taking this advice and adding color to our offerings this year.