As we shrug off the mind-numbing grip of the worst winter in decades, join me in romping headlong toward the palettes coloring streetwear this spring. Make sure to fill your closets full to brimming with these goodies. (While you’re at it, why not port these palettes over to your graphic design work? Fashion pinpoints shades our collective eye will hunger for this season—and we can all use that longing to our full advantage.)
This season’s pastels are refreshingly bracing cold in tone: shimmering in shiny fabrics, dialed way down in saturation, the color barely tinges the cloth, like an iced-over raspberry bleeding slightly into a deathly-white snowcone.
Pastels can look smashing, but they demand a clear sense of control. You want to master the pastel, not the other way around. Know what effect you’re trying for—playing with texture, or mixing pale with saturated for a sense of distances—and move with assurance into the kill. They pair excellently with another seasonal trend, metallics and iridescents.
Black & White All Over
Kick out the monochromes in a big way this year. As looks go, this one’s brilliantly crisp and makes great use of pieces you already own. Since you’re dialing back on color proper, you’ll want to push forward with other elements of your outfit: shape, texture or some other strong contrast.
Madly Dense Pattern (& Skirts)
Two trends merge in these knockout baby-doll dresses by Mary Katrantzou: full, tea-length (or longer) skirts and bold, color-saturated floral prints. It’s the outsized energy zipping around these florals that amps them beyond the merely feminine. I love both these intertwined trends because they’re irrepressibly cheerful; they can “read” as classic or slyly experimental, as you like, and their combination looks great on everyone.
When you’re playing around with prints, I’d echo some classic advice: Mix smaller with bigger-scale prints, hew closely to your chosen color family, and when in doubt, dominate the entire canvas of your outfit (or shrink the pattern down to one eye-catching detail).
Pinks—Especially Radiant Orchid
Which brings us to the color juggernaut, Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year: Radiant Orchid. I interviewed Pantone’s Leatrice Eiseman about the color, as well as how the company makes its annual selection. Several months later, unsurprisingly, this color has spilled into every retail shopfront, daubed all the racks, and will dot the streets with increasing density.
I’m a fan of Radiant Orchid in its clearer manifestations; the dusty or muted shade feels sad, the color of neglect, to me. But luckily you can find Radiant Orchid in zillions of subtly graded hues. It can step boldly forward or move back into almost a neutral.
I’m eager to hear what color combos are rocking it for you this season. Hit us up with your trendspotting in the comments!
Want more colorful insight from Jude Stewart? Check out Color Palettes & Patterns. In this download, you’ll discover the history of color, how certain colors have gained and lost favor over the years, and explore the backgrounds of different prints and patterns.