Wear Red, Feel Sexier

It's the color that has sold billions upon billions of tubes of lipstick, is most closely associated with Valentine's Day, and has even been canonized as the ultimate color of beauty in one of the top pop songs of the 1980s. Is it any wonder that, as a recent study at the University of Zurich has shown, wearing red makes people view themselves as hotter, and makes others perceive them as sexier too?

Red is Hot, Blue is Not

Under the guise of an experiment about whether facial features could help people perceive personality traits, researchers asked participants to sit in a cubicle containing a mirror. In one study, the participants wore a red t-shirt, in another, a blue t-shirt, gazing at their own reflection between answering questions on a survey featuring questions about how attractive they perceived themselves. An additional study had the participants take a selfie of themselves wearing the color vs. staring at the mirror. The results showed that participants rated themselves as more attractive while wearing the red shirt than the blue.

The Zurich study wasn't the first time the connection between red clothes and attractiveness levels had been explored in the name of science. In 2008, in a study of color stereotypes (for example, the use of black costumes and white costumes in old cowboy movies), researchers Andrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta found that men rated a photo of a woman wearing a red shirt to be more sexually desirable than the same woman wearing a blue shirt. They also indicated they'd be more likely to date the woman and red, and spend more money on a date with her, than her blue-clad identical counterpart, but when questioned if the color of clothing had anything to do with their opinions, the men insisted it hadn't been a factor at all.

Is it Real Attraction, or Just Sex?

Though their findings pointed to an unconscious bias the men had towards red, Elliot and Niesta questioned whether the perception of a woman who wears red impacted the outcome of their study. Were women who wear red seen as more sexually available, rather than simply more physically attractive? However, in seven additional studies, women were also more likely to rate men wearing red as more attractive than their counterparts wearing other colors.

For their part, the Zurich researchers have been quick to point out that wearing red might not have the same impact on everyone, and that interested parties should consider taking on a DIY experiment of their own. The test is simple: incorporate some red into your outfit on your next big night out or on your online dating profile (specifically a red shirt), and see if color stereotype holds true for you. At the very least, it may provide a little self-confidence boost, that is, if you can stop checking yourself out in the mirror.

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Written by Curiosity Staff July 14, 2017

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