Want to Look Powerful or Sexy? The Red Effect Says You Should Wear Red

Red Effect image
Red Effect: Women appear more attractive to men when wearing red over other colors. This is true even if the clothing isn’t sexily-cut or a dress.

What color is your “power tie”? If it’s red, you’re in good shape (if you want to appear dominant, powerful, and authoritative, that is). And for women? Red, apparently, makes you look sexier, even when wearing a t-shirt.

But (please!) don’t take my word for it.

Red has been proven over and over again to spark emotional reactions in the way people perceive men and women. In fact, there is a name for the phenomenon: the red effect. The crazy thing is, this color phenomenon doesn’t appear to be cultural. Researchers believe that there are several biological factors that actually make women appear more attractive to men when wearing red and that men appear more dominant or aggressive wearing red.

Some of the reasons may make you blush.

According to authors Lidwell, Holden, and Butler, chimpanzees “signal their period greatest fertility each month by developing large red swellings around their anus and vulva, which increases their sexual appeal to males.”

We can be grateful human men don’t have to look directly at those specific areas of the body to find greater sexual appeal to women. But it has been proven that men do, similarly, find greater attraction to women with red and pink features, like full red lips and flushed red cheeks.

Lidwell et al further clarify that clothing does the same thing to men. In a research study where men were shown several pictures of women in different colored clothing, men repeatedly said they were more attracted to the same woman when she was wearing red. Psychologist Adam Pazda, in fact, in an article published by Science Magazine, even said that it doesn’t matter what type of clothing the woman is wearing–it doesn’t need to be a sexily-cut top or a dress–even a red t-shirt makes a woman more attractive to men than a t-shirt worn by the same woman in another color.

That being said, it is important to note that wearing red did nothing to enhance perception of personality traits other than sexual attractiveness. Women wearing red didn’t appear any more likable, kind, or more intelligent, for example.

On the flip side, men seem much more dominant if they are wearing red than when wearing other colors. A logical connection to this might be because red usually grows in an angry face, which signals aggression.

But the craziest part of this red effect in men is that it seems to also translate to male sports. In research done on English soccer teams and wrestlers in the 2004 Olympics, the results are the same: teams or athletes wearing red won a statistically significant greater number of games and matches!

Red Effect soccer teams
The Red Effect: English soccer teams wearing red win a statistically significant greater number of matches.


Perhaps this is related to a quick analysis I did about college football teams: red and orange teams seem to significantly dominate the BCS games.