Carol Color Story 1: Carol’s Coral & Therese/Carol’s RED

Department Store:

Carol is wearing a coral silk scarf. It peaks out from under her mink (heh) when she meets Therese for the first time. This is a sign of sexual interest and lust. Therese’s hat is red = passion, love. She’s already in her head in love with Carol the moment she sees her.


Sitting down, Carol’s coral silk scarf is wrapped around her neck…but it also bursts out through her jacket, over her heart, and flows downward. Therese is wearing black and white.
As Carol is talking to Therese, touching neck and preening, she shows her ear…which is wearing a coral and gold earring.

Now we as the audience can see that the coral has travelled from her chest to up to her head.

As Carol is leaving Therese, she gets into the car with Abby and wraps the scarf around her head. Now the lust has gone to her head, traveling from her heart to her head. Her mind is on Therese, she’s infatuated, interested, lusty.

Harge’s Parent’s House:
There is no coral scarf to be found. She’s now in her grey suit.

Carol’s House:
There is no accent color. This is Harge land, heteroville. Neither Therese nor Carol are wearing accent colors at Carol’s house, as their lust is sublimated. Carol wears a blue dress then a green sweater over it, cool colors.

We don’t see much red up until this point, it’s mostly coral. The color of lust, but not love or passion.

Lawyer’s Office:
When meeting with her lawyer, Carol does wear quite a bit of red - enveloped in her coat and under her jacket is a beautiful red shirt. I think this is what Sandy Powell referred to as Carol’s armor, the red that she wears into battle. Maybe on Carol it means something different than it does when Therese wears it. 

Therese’s Roof:
Carol is enveloped in a red coat. This is when she asks Therese to go on the trip with her.

Hotel room, night before Carol leaves Therese:
Carol is wearing a coral polo, woven shirt. They make love for the second time, Carol wears coral.

Therese’s Apartment:
While packing for the trip and fighting with Richard, Therese picks up a red sweater and then after he storms out, delicately packs it into her suitcase. This is her love of and for Carol.

When Carol and Therese are at a diner on their trip, Therese wears the same red sweater while giving Carol the “Easy Living” record, again signifying her love for Carol. Red here is the love between them and Therese is filled with it. Carol interestingly, wears green. 

Carol in a Taxi:
Everything is washed out and without accent colors for a long while until Carol spots Therese again wearing: red shoes, red jacket. Red is the love they share between them. Carol realizes her love for Therese, that Therese is the one.

Carol at the Lawyer’s office:
Carol wears no accent colors, her nails are nude. 

Tea Room:
In this scene the entire room is washed out in beige, white, ivory. Carol wears grey, Therese in brown and black. The only accent color is on Carol’s nails, coral again. Peeping out, but no longer as a scarf or a hat. Just a touch of coral. The ember is there however, as she places her hand on Therese’s shoulder - coral is the only color we see at that moment. 

We see Therese at the party, everything is brown and black and beige and muted. EXCEPT…as we see Therese rushing to the Oak Room, her purse is RED! OMG! The only color in the Oak Room is the red purse Therese clutches. Amazing, Therese carries the love they have between them.


Red and the coral represent two separate things. Red is all about Therese and Carol (how they feel about each other, the love they share, this thing they have together that all people in love share) while coral is all about Carol’s lesbianism and sexuality.

Now that I think about it, when Carol wears her red hat, coat, and red shirt to see the lawyer - I think it IS all about the stirring of love she feels for Therese. Red is not about anything other than Carol and Therese, it has nothing to do with Harge, Abby, or Rindy. On the day Carol sees the lawyer, she’s already…very infatuated (let’s say in love) with Therese, not lusty coral, but the red of love, of something real and more. In her altercation with Harge the night before, he had reacted violently to both Therese and the implication that Carol’s lesbianism wasn’t just a one time thing. When she calls Therese asking to see her again, Carol has already decided that she will do what she wants, and that’s to keep Therese within reach.

When Carol and Abby have drinks, the red coat is splayed over the suitcase she has bought for Therese.

Not only is red the only color that Carol and Therese share, it jumps between them - they never wear it at the same time. I would say red is their relationship, a delicate thing that each carries throughout the movie.