CAROLE JACKSON MEANT well. Back in the now-comically wayward 1980s, at least fashionably speaking, her book, “Color Me Beautiful” was a must-read. Women everywhere flocked to “get their colors done”—the seasonal palette from which they should never, ever stray—and promptly followed the process by chucking each tube of lipstick and shoulder-padded blazer that didn’t make the cut. The downside, of course, was with every new color consultation (because who could stop at one?) came a new set of hues, so one can only imagine the complete state of confusion in which the decade’s would-be fashionistas found themselves.
In today’s apparel sector, by comparison, color’s faddish reputation is slightly more relaxed. New trends crash like waves into the couture arena, and subsequently trickle down to the masses. While shades might vary more regularly, new colors on the whole often can find a home for years at a time as part of a general design direction, explained Christine Chow, director of membership for The Color Association of the United States, a color trend forecasting agency based in New York. “When you are really able to recognize ... the inspirations behind your palettes, those don’t change because those reflect people’s mind-sets,” she maintained. “And the cultural mind-set doesn’t just swing back and forth every five minutes. It’s really being able to identify long-term cultural shifts so that’s what we work towards, we don’t really look at fads.”
A STUDY IN PSY-COLOR-GY
This dependence on social ideologies might explain the recent synergy between a color-coded movement that’s bubbling to the surface and fashion’s current direction. With the “Green Revolution” has come an emphasis on eco-friendly homes, cars and practices, and at the same time leaf, kelly and bottle green hues in stores (but more on that later). “The things we look at relate to ideas and feelings that are going on in the environment,” explained Chow. “Whether people are consciously aware of it or not, I think people are generally more politically aware and they’re feeling more serious because of that.” This earnestness reflects a shift from what was happening in post-9/11 America, when whimsy was the watchword for the escapism that was a big trend in both pop culture and fashion.