Every season, the wise men and women at Pantone Color Institute come up with a list of the essential colors to wear, decorate, and live with. And once a year they release , to much anticipation and acclamation, the official Pantone color of the year.
In recent years, Pantone's emphasis has been on bright jewel tones like Tangerine Tango and Radiant Orchid. But is there a case to be made that the color that truly catches the zeitgeist of our times and lives is a neutral that is widely viewed as the absence of color, a mid-range gray?
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Excerpt: "As we approach the middle of the decade, The Guardian‘s deputy fashion editor Hannah Marriott writes that now is the perfect time to take note of what is significantly trending since 2010. And based off of extensive research from sales figures, runway shows, and Pinterest boards, it’s apparent that gray is taking over our lives. From our sleek and silver Apple laptops to our overflowing dresser drawers with gray joggers, hoodies, and, according to a recent feature in The Gentlewoman magazine, underwear, fifty shades of gray isn’t just the title of a best-selling erotic romance novel from 2011. It is a lifestyle.
For more validation, quotes by major tastemakers from around the world fawning over the popular hue are peppered throughout Marriott’s piece, which is probably the best part of the in-depth article. ('Anything set against gray looks more beautiful, more grand,' famous interior designer Abigail Ahern said. 'It cocoons you and turns the room into a space you really want to hunker down into. It feels intriguing and sophisticated and glamorous.')
Oh, heather gray, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways…
Manicures: With bestsellers like Chanel‘s Particuliére, 'a taupey-gray shade,' and Dior‘s 'true mid-gray' Gris Montaigne released in 2010, gray nail polish became as trendy as requesting 'Lincoln Park After Dark' at your favorite salon.
Suits: 'Gray is a much richer, more interesting and more textural color in suiting than black,' said Patrick Grant, creative director of Savile Row. Plus, don’t groomsmen look more handsome in gray suits anyway?
Luxurious fabrics: Want your wool coat or cashmere pullover to look more expensive? Get it in gray. 'Céline‘s autumn/winter 2013 collection is a brilliant example of this,' said Oriole Cullen, acting senior curator of contemporary fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum. 'It all looked so covetable.'
The 'Off-duty chic' look: Designers like Alexander Wang, Céline, and Isabel Marant, champion the color gray in their collections season after season. It’s also a wardrobe staple in for fashion editors and models, whose street style images are 'disseminated widely in the age of style blogs and Instagram.'
A go-to for color coordination: If you’re stuck on matching your outfit, put some gray on it. “It suits a range of skintones and complements a range of other colors, some of which – such as navy and pastels – can look odd with black,' noted Marriott. (Ed note: Navy with black forever!) Wonderland fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois considers gray as a neutral that perfectly pairs with bright shades and neons.
Activewear: The buzzword in today’s fashion market coincides with the rising practice of fitness and wellness. And 'the shade that makes other colors sing' is what most sweatshirts and joggers come in, which has accounted for half of Uniqlo‘s sales in the past year. “Marl grey is the original color for sportswear and has always been the No. 1 color for traditional sweats and joggers,” said Jane Shepherdson, CEO of Whistles. 'We find that we experiment with other colors, but always return to marl gray.'
Interior design: Paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball is probably the reason why you usually experience home decor envy. And in the past seven years, at least 20 Farrow & Ball shades could be classified as grays, which is a 10% increase in gray shades from the company’s total stock of 132. 'Certainly, today, gray connotes sophistication, allure and depth,' said Michelle Ogundehin, editor-in-chief of Elle Decoration UK."