Fashion's New Coloring Book

By Sharon Mosley

March 11, 2013 4 min read

Remember the feeling of a new box of crayons on the first day of school? Well, this spring you can feel that excitement again. Just take out an "African violet," an "emerald," a "Monaco blue," a "poppy red," a "nectarine" and a "lemon zest" and you've got the start to a colorful fashion book for the season ahead.

Designers are making sure that we've got a big stash of energetic colors to brighten up our wardrobes. It's time to get re-energized and think of creative ways to wear new color combinations, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the global color authority, the Pantone Color Institute. She calls the color direction for spring a new balancing act between bold brights and novel neutrals.

"The expression 'balancing act' is something we all relate to as we strive to find harmony in the frantic pace of our everyday lives," Eiseman says. "The same can be said for fashion as we look for balance between light and bright, classic and new. This season's color palette emphasizes this need for balance while at the same time allowing for individuality, self-expression and excitement."

Here are Pantone's picks for what will be in both women's and men's fashion coloring boxes this spring:

--Go for green. The greens rule this year. "Emerald" has been dubbed by Pantone as the color of the year. The deep jewel tone is sure to turn up in designers' palettes as a refreshing twist on one of last year's favorite hues, turquoise.

But there are other greens that are popping up out of Pantone's box of colors: "Tender shoots" is a vibrant yellow-green that contrasts with "grayed jade," a subtler shade of green with gray undertones.

--Get exotic. Gotta have a little purple in your spring wardrobe, right? Pick an "African violet" this time around, and mix it with another unexpected color -- for example, red.

This year, the red to wear is "poppy red," a very spirited color, which turned up not only on dresses at all the award shows but also on lips a la Jessica Chastain at the Oscars.

--Juice it up. Drink in the oranges. "Nectarine" is one of the favorites -- a citrus orange with coral undertones. Remember last year's "tangerine tango"? And then there's a little "lemonade" to brighten up those warm-weather wardrobes. Pantone calls it "lemon zest." The proof that this color will be a big hit? Look again to the Oscars and Jane Fonda's delicious yellow Versace gown. For the guys, "sunflower" offers an earthy Dijon-like flavor to add a tasty update.

--Cruise with blue. The blue hues have always been a spring and summer fashion favorite, with their nautical nattiness and ocean-inspired palette. But this year, blue acts as a sophisticated neutral in a calming "dusk blue." Perfect to pair with "grayed jade" or "nectarine," "Monaco blue" is a darker true-blue shade that is classic when teamed with "poppy red" or even "emerald."

--Lighten up with white. What would our spring and summer wardrobes be without white? Pantone calls its neutral white "linen" -- a nudelike off-white basic that is a must-have for spring. Expect to see head-to-toe white worn in a major way in the months ahead.

Sharon Mosley's weekly column, "In Fashion," can be found at

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