By Erika Ettin

Tribune News Service

Is red the new black? Where online dating is concerned, the answer is a resounding YES! In 2013, Slate published an article saying that you should wear a red shirt in your online dating profile to get more responses. For women, “Twenty-one percent of their emails arrived when they wore red, whereas the other colors — black, white, yellow, green and blue — attracted 14 to 17 percent of the total.” Pretty impressive!

Why red? The study has two explanations.

1. Red is associated with love — plain and simple.

2. People flush red when they are sexually receptive, thus associating the color with attraction for the other person.

That’s quite the correlation! They say the same is true for both men and women, so start stocking up on red clothes. But before you go on that red-shirt shopping spree, remember that simply posting a picture in your brand new red shirt is not the golden ticket to getting you a date every night of the week. The most important part of the picture is still you, and only you.

Don’t forget these five rules of thumb for your online dating profile pictures:

1. The main profile picture should be a clear headshot of yourself.

If you don’t have at least one clear headshot as your main picture (it’s either blurry or too far away), it will look as if you’re hiding something. You don’t want someone to click right past you because he or she can’t see what you look like, automatically assuming the worst.

2. Less is more.

Believe it or not, allows 26 photos in your profile. That sounds more like a Facebook album! I have no doubt that the pictures from your trip to Paris are amazing. Just remember, there’s a time and a place for them, and that place is not an online dating site. People have a tendency to look though all of your photos and dismiss you simply because they see one they don’t like.

3. Be by yourself in the shot.

This says it all:

4. Have one “interesting” picture.

It’s hard to know what to say to someone in that first email, isn’t it? This is why we need to provide some “e-mail bait” — something to catch someone’s attention and generate questions. For example, if you have a picture of yourself with a gold medal around your neck, it automatically raises the question, “How did you get that?”

5. Be accurate.

The point of doing online dating is to get offline. Don’t lie about your looks — people will always find out the truth in the end.

Now, with these rules of thumb in mind, feel free to break out the red and post away.

And then when you have too many dates to count, you can break out the red again — this time perhaps a nice bottle of Merlot.