It’s a never-ending struggle, this getting dressed business. This, most people are aware of. What you might not be aware of: The colors you wear say a lot about you.

"For many years, colors have been used as indicators of meanings, feelings and messages,’’ says Carla Harris, president of ImageWorks, an image consulting firm. Here are four of her tips for various occasions in your life:

1. First date: "Go natural all the way!’’ Harris says. "This is the time for you to be most approachable, so the best thing to do is to wear colors that you feel good in and are a version of your natural palette.’’

Color code: Depending on the image you want to convey, red is known to give you courage, vitality and self-confidence. "It’s also sexy,’’ Harris says.

2. Party time: Hitting the club circuit? Bright, tropical colors tell fellow partiers you’re ready to go.

Color code: Purple, the color of royalty, is "passionate, energetic and hot right now,’’ Harris says. Lilac is easier on the eyes than a deep violet. Yellow, sheer orange and light green are "happy, chirpy.’’

3. Meeting his/her parents for the first time: "Friendly and kind should be the message,’’ Harris says. "Stick with colors and contrasts that are more subtle and complementary to your natural coloring.’’

Color code: "Try a grassy green,’’ Harris says. It’s "the purest and most neutral of all greens. Not too yellowish or neon.’’ It also goes well with all skin shades and hair colors, she says.

4. My best friend’s wedding: That old rule – no white – still stands in most circles, Harris says. Although "no one will ever upstage the bride,’’ it’s advisable to stick with so-called supportive colors: soft pink ("encouraging’’) or yellow ("easygoing’’).

Color code: For evening weddings, try Harris’ personal fave: burgundy, which she put on her own bridesmaids at her wedding a few years back. "A lot of brides forget about the end result – which is the photograph hanging on your wall,’’ she says.

© 2004, The Miami Herald. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.