Red: The Color To Woo Them All

beyonce red dressThere’s a reason women wear red – it’s the sexiest, most come-hither color. They’re more likely to wear red or hot pink when they are at peak fertility. Since humans lack obvious, outward signs of sexual fertility, the red dress could be our equivalent to some ape specie’s colored sexual swellings. It’s a come hither signal that the brief fertile window is wide open.

The color is so strongly associated with sexual receptivity that men are more attracted to women wearing red because they believe they are less likely to be rejected. They sit closer to women in red and ask them more intimate questions.


President Barack Obama’s red tie channels strength, wealth and power.

The color associated with power and passion is attention grabbing for both sexes. Both men and women rate the opposite sex as more attractive when they’re wearing red or surrounded by red. Red is often associated with royalty and wealth. Today we see red used to portray high status, such as red carpet entrances to important events.

Men who wear red subtly signal that they are high-status and earn more money, and therefore women find them more sexually desirable. Interestingly, the red effect seems to apply only to romantic attraction. The color doesn’t influence men’s perceptions of other men, or women’s perceptions’ of men’s overall likability, agreeableness or extroversion.

geishaThe red effect is seen in cultures in both the East and West, which makes the phenomenon both biological and learned behavior.

Using red ornamentation to signal sex isn’t a modern invention. : “Red was used as early as 10,000 B.C.E. in lipstick and rouge to mimic the red blush of sexual interest and excitation; red has been used in mythology, folklore, and literature throughout the ages to represent sexual promiscuity and passion; and red has long signaled sexual availability in red-light districts.” While 12 millennia of societal conditioning have firmly imbued the color red with erotic overtones, the association almost certainly has earlier biological origins.Popular Science

The original Woman in Red - 1620, Gheeraerts

The original Woman in Red – 1620, Gheeraerts


7 thoughts on “Red: The Color To Woo Them All

      • For sure — I absolutely adore your blog. I am fascinated with how people change their perception of issues that are of social importance, be the issue sexual, political, environmental…. I think you play a very important role in bringing science and evidence into the sexuality debate; it really helps to de-stigmatize sexual issues that, otherwise, are completely caught up in emotion and mysticism.

  1. Wow, thank you! That means so much. Science is endlessly fascinating. It’s interesting to force myself to limit exploration of various topics to published research. That limitation has a way of clarifying issues while simultaneously opening doors to new ideas and lines of reasoning. If only there were more hours in the day to explore the constant stream of new studies and information! 🙂

    …..though I have noticed that knowing too much about various topics has a way of quickly dampening dinner conversation….on a first date…..though at least now I know to wear red. 😉

  2. Pingback: A Primate Dating Primer: Lessons on Love | Sexy Science

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