The Connotation of Colors in Politics

Although we finally have our first female presidential nominee, politics is still a male-dominated field where the attire is composed of suits and ties. The choices of colors that a politician makes for various events can make a subtle statement about the appearance they are attempting to convey.

Currently, red and blue are the two accepted colors for politicians’ outfits. If you see a color choice other than blue or red, it is likely an intentional break from tradition to convey a separate message. For example, in the first 11 days Obama was in Oval Office, he only wore blue or red ties.

Blue has lots of connotations, both mental and historical. It is associated with the blood of British nobility. Dark blue ties imply that the wearer is smart and trustworthy. It’s the color most worn to job interviews. Candidates that are trying to clean up their image will likely wear lots of dark blue to subtly shift their image.

Red has similarly strong connotations. Red historically has represented the color of the red blood of the British Guard. Red clothes also make people feel more amorous towards the wearer. This manifests in more than just romantic relationships; one study showed that referees tend to rule more in favor of red-dressed teams. Red is also an aggressive color. This illustrates that the wearer is decisive, bold and powerful. Flip-flopping politicians will often wear red.

Finally, purple is a color some politicians will choose because it is associated with royalty and power. Notice that they will rarely do this in incredibly traditional settings. A choice to break from the red and blue is generally a very conscious choice or a careless error by someone inexperienced.

Next time you’re watching a political event, take a look at the clothing color choices and see if you can infer a little bit more about the politician’s message.


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