While there are no hard and fast rules about what colors are feminine, masculine or gender-neutral, thanks to various color studies conducted over the past 70 years, some generalizations are possible.
Surprisingly enough, the sexes share much in common when it comes to color preferences, according to a 2003 University of Washington research project conducted by student Joe Hallock.
- Top three favorite colors: blue, purple, green
- Top three least favorite colors: orange, brown, gray
- Top three favorite colors: blue, green, black
- Top three least favorite colors: brown, orange, purple
- Among the favorite colors, green decreases in preference as both genders age.
- Among the least favorite colors, orange is increasingly disliked as both genders age.
While men prefer blue more than women do, it is a favorite color of both men and women of all ages. Blue can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. The cool, calming effect of blue (think sky and water) makes time pass more quickly and aids sleep. Blue stands for distance, the divine, the spiritual and fidelity. Long considered a corporate color, blue – especially dark blue – is associated with authority, intelligence, knowledge, depth and seriousness.
A favorite color of men and women, the color green is cool and restful, and signifies growth, renewal, health, the environment, balance and stability. Women favor cool, soft shades of green while men prefer clearer, brighter shades.
Purple is chosen almost exclusively by women as a favorite, and is strongly disliked by men. Traditionally associated with nobility and power, purple is also spiritual, romantic and mysterious. Because purple is derived from mixing a strong warm color (red) with a strong cool color (blue), it has both warm and cool properties. A purple room can boost a child's imagination or an artist's creativity, but too much purple can result in moodiness or depression.
Considered the negation of color, black is conservative and goes well with almost any color except the very dark hues. It also has conflicting connotations. It can be serious, formal and elegant on one hand; mysterious, sexy and rebellious on the other; and powerful, evil and aggressive on yet another.