As a child growing up just outside of Boston, one of my favorite places to visit was the Museum of Science. What kid doesn’t love to watch lightning strike indoors, make music by walking a staircase, or explore the world of prehistoric creatures? But one of my favorite exhibits was on an upper floor down a lesser-known hallway, tucked inside an area designated for learning about the way the human body works. Anatomy and physiology were never my strong suits, but a display dedicated to color, scale, perception, and the human eye-brain function never ceased to amaze me. From optical illusions to swatch-matching, I couldn’t get enough.
(As anecdotal evidence of my passion, I memorized every color in my Crayola crayon box by age 10. How else would an elementary school student know how to spell — and pronounce — cerulean?)
It’s unsurprising, then, that I’ve always had a particular love of color and design. I tormented my own mother after discovering her partial colorblindness (just the color green, strangely enough) but redeemed myself by always helping her select coordinated outfits and even picking the paint color for my parents’ new kitchen.
It follows, then, that the study of colored gems in particular leads to a rather in-depth look at color and a specialized vocabulary not found among the crayons. Fashion and lifestyle brands are now heavily influenced by the renowned Pantone Color Institute, which both maintains accurate and reliable color swatching and attempts to predict (or rather, set) each season’s feature color and palette. This has an interesting side effect: some businesses hop aboard the trendy train, embracing each new color and promoting its use in everything from home decor to nail polish. Others will purposefully split from the popularized palettes, choosing instead to pursue a kind of counter-culture aesthetic instead.
The result of this new focus on color seems to be, primarily, a lot more of it. Wildly color-and-pattern-centric classic brands such as Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer are back in the spotlight, with the latter about to debut its first mass-market collaboration with Target (the brand follows other bright and bold names such as Missoni). While monochromatic styles will likely never be a thing of the past, it does seem that more colorful plumage and the self-expression it brings has moved to the forefront.
Where does this leave me? My little Yankee heart will always have room for the classic, tailored lines of seaside, citified, prep-school standards like khaki and navy. But my lifelong appreciation for color feels right at home in an industry dedicated to the beautiful, creative combination of every color under the sun, so this little dove feels more than ready for some finer — brighter — feathers.