Bandana Color Meanings Explained (Ones to Avoid)

Bandanas are traditionally worn around the neck or head for protective or decorative purposes, but they now have social associations with many different types of crowds.

Let’s talk about bandana color meanings and which ones to avoid.

What do black bandanas mean?

There’s nothing sinister about a black bandana.

Black is the color of power and sophistication. It’s also a strong and intimidating color, so wearing a black bandana exudes authority and makes you feel secure and protected.

Wearing a black bandana on your head is generally safe. It’s a great way to express yourself, as long as you use common sense and take appropriate precautions.

For that reason, let’s talk about the symbolism of the color black in different cultures:

  • In ancient Egypt, black signified life and rebirth.
  • In China, black represents immortality, stability, and power.
  • In Western cultures, black means mourning, sadness, and passing.

Although a black bandana may have affiliations with gangs, it’s actually more on the neutral side. In fact, a black bandana is usually in combination with bandanas of different colors.

What do red bandanas mean?

Red is the color of passion and energy. Wearing a red bandana draws attention like no other color and radiates strong and powerful energy that motivates you to take action.

Therefore, wearing a red bandana means you’re passionate and excited about life.

It is also linked with sexuality and stimulates deep and intimate passion, although red is ubiquitously used to warn and signal caution and danger.

In Chinese culture, red represents luck and prosperity.

Wearing a bright red bandana on your head is generally safe. It’s a great way to express yourself, as long as you use common sense and take appropriate precautions.

For example, the famous food and travel YouTuber, Sonny Side, has been known for wearing his red bandana in each and every single one of his viral YouTube videos.

Sonny Side (YouTuber) has worn a red banana all around the world.

However, in some parts of the United States (Los Angeles, California) wearing a red bandana around the neck may be associated with membership in the Bloods gang.

What do blue bandanas mean?

Blue is the color of trust and loyalty. Wearing a blue bandana has a calming and relaxing effect on your psyche, giving you peace, confidence, and a sense of security.

However, a blue bandana has associations with the Crips gang, which was founded in 1969 in Los Angeles. And yes, the gang is still very much active in the US and in Canada.

You might want to think twice about wearing a color blue bandana, especially in most parts of LA.

What do white bandanas mean?

White is the color of purity and innocence. It’s a true balance of all colors. Therefore, wearing a white bandana is associated with cleanliness, simplicity, and perfection.

The color white also promotes open-mindedness and self-reflection.

Therefore, wearing a white bandana would mean you are an advocate and a believer of the common bonds of humankind, regardless of sexuality, nationality, race, religion, or gender.

Both white and pink bandanas are generally considered the safest bandanas colors to wear, as these two colors are not commonly associated with any gangs.

What do green bandanas mean?

Green is the color of harmony and health. It’s also generous and relaxing. Therefore, wearing a green bandana revitalizes our body and mind, as well as balances our emotions.

However, activists have used the green bandana for a different cause.

Since 2022, the green bandana, worn around the heads, necks, or wrists, is a symbol of abortion rights in Latin America and has been adopted by activists in the United States.

What do red and blue bandanas mean?

Red and blue bandanas have been associated with gang violence.

Red and blue bandanas can be associated with the rivalry between the Crips and Bloods gangs.  They are two different rival gangs who wear different colors to identify their group.

The Bloods’ gang color is red. They like to wear sports clothing, including jackets and bandanas that show their gang color, while the Crips have been wearing the blue color since around 1973.

What bandana colors to avoid

Avoid wearing red or blue bandanas in areas such as Los Angeles or New York. These are the two colors that are most commonly associated with gangs, so it’s best to not wear them.

Also, avoid wearing the green bandana around the head, neck, or wrists, as it’s a symbol of abortion rights in Latin America and has been worn by activists in the United States.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you know for sure that the area you are in is not known for gang activity, then feel free to wear a red, blue, or green bandana.

What do different color bandanas mean in the gay community?

Bandana colors in the back pockets for the LGBTQ community.

In the LGBT community, colored bandanas can be used in bars or social situations to represent a person’s interests in sexual activities and fetishes.

This is known as the handkerchief code (also known as the Hanky Code, the bandana code, and flagging). It’s a system of color-coded cloth bandanas for non-verbal communication.

The Hanky Code is a color-coded system in which an individual wears a specific colored handkerchief in their back pocket(s) to inform others of their sexual interests and roles.

Placing a hanky in the left pocket indicates the wearer’s alignment with a top/dominant role, while a hanky in the right pocket indicates the wearer’s alignment with a bottom/submissive role.

The Hanky Code.

There was no single authoritative standard for the code, although some of these colors are offered for sale at LGBT stores along with free cards listing their meanings.

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