If you work in art or publishing, you know Pantone. Graphic designers and printers depend on Pantone’s consistent color palette to translate ideas into reality. We spend hours comparing chips or varying shades, looking for just the right one to apply to our work. We count on their consistency, knowing that the chip we show a client will be the same color as the finished product. In the fashion world, Pantone is better known for seasonal reports on trending colors. Twice a year they produce a Fashion Color Report on what shades are going to be hot from the runway to the street.
Spring 2010’s FCR (you can download a free PDF at the link) forecasts sunny brights offset with light neutrals will be the big look for spring and summer. I know – brights and neutrals for spring! Groundbreaking! (Next they’ll tell us that red lipstick is hot!) But cynicism aside, there’s a reason this season’s palette is taking the safe road: money. This season’s report was tailored to the current economic climate and the fact that consumers have less cash to spend on new clothes:
Designers bring splashes of sunshine to the runway for spring 2010. Vibrant brights add a sense of excitement to the color palette, while practical neutrals provide a safety net for cautious consumers.
“Now more than ever, women are vigilant when it comes to spending,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Instead of re-inventing their wardrobe at the start of each season, consumers want pieces to complement what they already own. Pairing a bold color with a basic piece or freshening up their look with bright accents addresses the need for practicality, as well as fun.”
The inclusion of basic colors most women own (like khaki and tomato red) makes it easier for fashionistas on a budget to update our look without spending a ton of cash. A basic pair of khakis or blue jeans and a white shirt look instantly fresh when given a pop of color with a pair of yellow sneakers or
Accessories like scarves and jewelry are an inexpensive (and low-commitment) way to embrace the newest color trends without overhauling your closet. They’re also a great way to work in colors you don’t normally feel comfortable wearing – a necklace of bright yellow beads is much less intimidating than a bright yellow dress. If you’re looking for an update but wary of committing to a garment in a new hue try starting with baby steps. A bright pair of earrings, a new bag, a bright skinny belt at the waist of your favorite dress or sweater.
If you want to get a little more bold, try a belted t-shirt dress like this one from Old Navy (only $15!). A dress like this is great because of it’s versatility: on cool spring days you can wear it with a cardigan and boots, then carry it into summer with a chunky necklace and sandals. I would pair the blue version of this with accessories in Pantone’s turquoise or aurora yellow (my taste tends toward the bright and the bold), but it would also look sharp with bright white, khaki, or grey. The turquoise version would look great accessorized with Pantone’s fusion coral or pink champagne shades to create a beachy summer look.
Another versatile piece that can add a quick hit of color (and get you through spring’s chilly days and evenings) is a great cardigan. This Merona sweater from Target brings in spring’s violet and yellow shades and works as well over a shift dress at the office as it does with a tank top and jeans on the weekend. Old Navy’s lightweight pointelle cardigan comes in shades resembling Pantone’s fusion coral, aurora yellow, and pink champagne.
Pantone’s Fashion Color Report is a great resource for knowing where the seasonal trends are headed, and they provide a variety so that almost anyone can find something to embrace. No matter what the trend – color, print, style – the most important thing is finding your comfort zone and working within it. Just because Pantone says yellow and coral will be hot this season doesn’t mean you need to embrace them if you hate those colors or just don’t feel your best in them. The key is finding a way to make the trend work for you. Real style isn’t about following trends, anyway. It’s about seeing the trends and deciding for yourself how you’ll apply them (or ignore them). And more than anything color is about confidence. The right color can lift your mood and make you feel invincible just as the wrong color can make you feel drab and out of place. Because who cares if your outfit is in style if you hate it?