Fashion & Beauty

Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year

LAST WEEK, in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking that the Pantone Institute hadn’t yet named their color of the year. No idea why that thought was buzzing around in my brain. But the strange thing is the next morning I got an email from a friend, asking if I’d read about Pantone’s pick for the color of 2021.

As you probably know by now, Pantone chose not one but two colors—Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. In other words, a pebble gray and a bright yellow. Pantone’s color gurus come to their decision by traveling around the world (this year, more like Zooming), looking for color influences from new artists, fashion and interior designers, popular travel destinations, upcoming films and new technology.

According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, this year’s pick is combination of resilience and hope. Yellow cheers us up while gray assures and steadies. In the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic, though, gray alone might read as bleak; yellow, too optimistic.

I don’t know if I just hadn’t noticed it before, but as I’ve browsed around fashion sites in the past few days, lots of yellow and gray either alone and/or in combination with each other stare out from my screen.

Here, some examples of the color duo to wear now and post-pandemic.


—Janet Kelly


LEFT: See? Yellow and gray make a good-looking couple. A handmade embroidered floral bouquet bursts unexpectedly over Prada’s boxy, school-girlish Crewneck Sweater ($1,260, Farfetch).

RIGHT: A 1950s-inspired full skirt-and-sweater, updated with holes in the layered knitwear, was one of the runway looks from the first collection of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons as co-creative directors at Prada.

LEFT: Plaid feels fresh for winter, especially in new color combinations and in modern shapes and styles like this Driftwood Ryan Sherpa Shirt Jacket ($148, Anthropologie). A cushy addition to cold-weather wear.

RIGHT: A partnership between Supreme Streetwear and North Face resulted in this whimsical yet practical (it’s waterproof) Statue of Liberty Backpack ($240, Farfetch). Warhol-esque, don’t you think? And a fun gift for someone who always seems to be hauling stuff around.

LEFT: Isabel Marant’s linen-and-silk blend, checked Celeigh Jacket ($1,195, Farfetch) is oh-so-sophisticated—and hip-looking when styled with a turtleneck and dangly earrings.

RIGHT: Let your feet celebrate in at-home cozy Colorblocked Slippers ($38, Anthropologie). And, if you happen to need a holiday gift for now or later, these might be, er, a shoe-in.

ABOVE: I’m not mourning the loss of those narrow “X Men” sunglasses that were so popular last spring. Isn’t the whole point of sunglasses to be large enough to protect your face and eyes from harmful UVA/UVB rays? These blond and gray Leonard II Sunglasses (Ilesteva, $240), named after a trendy Tribeca street, will accomplish that handily with a 50mm lens width. (They’re also available in 10-plus other frames and lens colors.)

BELOW: MAC Cosmetics’ Grand Illusion Glossy Liquid Lipcolor ($13.50) is, alas, sold out in this combination of shiny gray and gold gloss. The sheen comes from iridescent pearls and works best for a swipe over a matte-color lipstick.


MyLittleBird often includes links to products we write about. Our editorial choices are made independently; nonetheless, a purchase made through such a link can sometimes result in MyLittleBird receiving a commission on the sale. We are also an  Amazon Associate.

3 thoughts on “Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year

  1. Nancy Bundt says:

    We all need bright yellow about now and grey is just an obvious choice. They know what they’re doing over there at Pantone!

  2. Carol says:

    Gray and yellow… great combination I used to wear in high school
    I never heard about Pantone color of the year
    I’m always learning from you ❤️

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Aw, shucks. Nice of you to say, Carol. xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *