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The polychromatic masterminds at Pantone have done it again. Each year, the foremost color-matching system declares its Color of the Year—the shade that will come to define the next year in fashion, graphic design, and beyond. Owing to the uniqueness of the times, Pantone broke with tradition at the end of 2020, naming not one but two Colors of the Year for 2021: the pairing of Ultimate Gray (hex value #939597) and a shade of yellow it calls Illuminating Yellow (#F5DF4D). The vibrancy of this bright yellow should contrast well against the deep neutral gray, which is seemingly “ultimate” because it’s neither light nor dark, neither warm nor cool. The two colors reflect the optimism and hope for 2021 contrasted against the lingering malaise and despair of 2020.
Now that you know the colors, you can apply them in your home, your workspace, and your closet as you capture the zeitgeist. Celebrate the most hotly anticipated new year in centuries with these ways to apply 2021’s Colors of the Year.
With the word out about the Colors of the Year, you should be able to accent your wardrobe—even if it’s still a work-from-home wardrobe—with neckties featuring these colors. Look for at least three: one solid in each color, plus a striped tie that incorporates both colors. You’ll want to cover all your bases, so keep an eye peeled for a fun pattern in yellow and gray.
No one has ever had a hard time finding striped sweaters, and if your work-from-home outfits lean toward the casual, a sweater in yellow and gray should indeed be the perfect fit. A sweater in solid goldenrod could be a little loud and a gray sweater rather unremarkable, a top that combines both of 2021’s colors will be a stylish way to dress this winter.
Your website, business cards, or newsletters could all be appropriately zeitgeisty with an Ultimately Illuminating palette. Whether you’re working in Adobe Creative Suite yourself or outsourcing the work to professionals, committing to a visual identity that embraces true neutral gray with a splash of yellow will make sure you and your brand remain au courant.
We spent more time at home than ever in 2020, and now we look to move back out into the world in 2021. Why not commemorate the end of the great move inward with a piece of furniture, such as an extremely comfy chair upholstered in, of course, Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray? A truly tangible sign of the times and a sign of better things to come could be the most creative way to apply 2021’s Colors of the Year.