What Do Bandana Colors Mean? (Which Ones To Avoid)

What Do Bandana Colors Mean?

Bandana colors mean different things to different people, but there are some common symbols and meanings associated with certain colors. In this article, I will go over the meaning of each bandana color.

The most popular bandana colors are red, blue, and black. These colors often have different meanings when worn by various groups such as bikers or gangs. Likewise, some people simply wear them as a fashion statement without any symbolism associated with their choice of color. Let’s go over each color and the associated meaning that comes with it.

The History of the Bandana

Bandanas were created in India as brightly-colored handkerchiefs made of silk and cotton with white spots on colored backgrounds, mainly red and blue. The silk styles used the finest quality yarns and quickly became popular. Bandana prints for clothing were first manufactured in Glasgow from cotton yarns but are now available in many different materials. The term currently generally refers to a fabric printed with patterns, whether it be silk, silk/cotton, or all-cotton.

Bandanas and Their Meaning

    • Red – Often worn by members of the Bloods Gang in Los Angeles, New York, and other large cities across the United States & Canada.
    • Blue – Often worn by members of the Crips Gang in Los Angeles, New York, and other large cities across the United States & Canada.
    • Black – A neutral color worn as a fashion accessory.
    • White – Represents a sign of peace and unity. Also is worn as a fashion accessory.
    • Yellow – Often worn by members of the Latin Kings Gang in Chicago and other large cities across the United States, Canada, Ecuador, Spain, and Italy.
    • Purple – Often worn by members of the Grape Street Watts Crips in Los Angeles.
    • Green – Often worn by members of the Bay Area Crips in the San Francisco Area.
    • Pink – Often worn as a symbol to support breast cancer awareness and as a fashion accessory.
    • Grey – A neutral color worn as a fashion accessory.
    • Brown – A neutral color worn as a fashion accessory.

Should I Really Avoid Certain Bandanas?

While bandanas of certain colors may have affiliations with certain gangs, it is important to remember that not everyone who wears a bandana of that color is in a gang. In fact, many people wear bandanas as a fashion accessory without any symbolism. So when wearing a bandana, just be cautious of what area you are in. No one will assume you are part of the Latin Kings if you are wearing a yellow bandana in Montana, but they might if you are in downtown Chicago.

So just be aware of your surroundings, wearing a bandana is perfectly safe in most parts of the country and around the world.

man in red bandana

How to Wear a Bandana?

The bandana can be worn in many different ways, the most popular being around the head or neck. Other ways to wear a bandana include:

    • Tied around your bicep
    • Worn as a belt
    • In your back pocket
    • As a headscarf
    • Around your wrist
    • On your ankle

There are many different ways to wear a bandana, so get creative and have fun with it!

Wearing a bandana is a great way to add a pop of color or personality to your outfit. So whether you choose to go with a neutral bandana or one with more meaning, make sure to rock it with confidence!

The Safest Bandana Colors

Pink and white bandanas are generally seen as the safest bandanas to wear, as they are not commonly associated with any gangs.

But other colors that are typically safe are also black, brown, green, grey, and purple. So few gangs use these colors and their locations are extremely local to their area that it would be hard for someone outside of the immediate gang territory to know that bandana even has a meaning.

The Two Bandana Colors To Avoid

In most cases, you will want to 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 is best to stay away from them.

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 rock a red or blue bandana with confidence!

bandana in back pocket

LGBTQ Bandana Meanings

In the past, people associated wearing a bandana in your back pocket with homosexuality, but that’s no longer the case.

In the past, because of the discrimination faced by gay men, they would use bandanas and handkerchiefs to signal their sexual orientation and preferences. These items were placed in either the left or right back pocket to communicate this information.

So even though this is typically a thing of the past, if you do go to a gay bar or club, your bandana may still carry some meaning.


Bandanas are a great way to add personality and style to any outfit. And while certain bandana colors may have meaning in some areas, in most cases they are perfectly safe to wear.

Connor Goodale

Connor is the owner and chief editor of Archive Avenue, a website dedicated to fashion and lifestyle. Connor has always had a passion for style and fashion. He created this website to share his unique view of the fashion world.

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