Pumpkin, sage, chocolate — these are the colors of fall (yes, they all happen to be edible, too). As leaves turn and that sharp chill is in the air, it’s normal to retire your bright summery slips and tanks for weightier materials and richer autumnal hues. But not this year. The jewel tones and neutrals oft associated with autumn weather aren’t going anywhere per se, but an influx of energizing and unexpected color trends has become the perfect foil to the season’s usual fare. In 2023, wearing color is all about the ways you balance and contrast different hues together.
The colors that appear on the fashion month runways are in large part a reflection of what’s on the minds of designers — and a nod to larger society issues overall, according to Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “We're living in a world that's full of ambiguity today,” she explains. “What we're finding in the fashion world is that there's this kind of twofold thing that's going on. We want colors that are going to feed that need for rest and relaxation. But at the same time, we're looking for the energy that's gonna get us out there and express who we are.”
This dichotomy of needs has spurred designers to think outside of the box when it comes to creating a color palette for the season. Unexpected pairings of vibrant and soft hues have become the name of the game. “I really love bright colors for the fall,” say Doria Santlofer, stylist and designer of Rosette. “They feel less summery when paired with neutrals or darker tones — hot pink and tan, lime green and navy, bright red and burgundy.” Ahead, you’ll find six of the season’s key color trends for you to mix and match as you explore ways to incorporate various shades into your cold-weather closet.
Eiseman uses words like “enlightening” and “illuminating” to describe the buttery, sunny yellow hue she’s seeing this fall. On the runways, it was a central theme, appearing in multiple looks at Giambattista Valli and adding pops of excitement at Coperni and Jil Sander. While yellow is a de facto choice for warmer months, for fall, she sees it as a warm hue to add some playfulness to your wardrobe.
“You can get addicted to it once you discover how well it goes with so many things and how different it is,” Eiseman says of this briny green. “Olive can really give [an outfit] a fresh touch. If you’re looking to branch out from your usual neutrals but don’t want to stray too far, consider this hue a must-try, as proven by its appearance on the runways of Hermès, Marine Serre, and many more.
Pantone’s pick for fall is a rich tangerine-y orange called “Orange Tiger,” but Santlofer notes that there are a range of hues she’s loving for the season. She suggests “soft cantaloupe shades to really bright tangerine.” The color popped up at a number of runways this season, including Givenchy (by way of bold over-the-knee boots) and Louis Vuitton, and was all over the street style scene.
“You've got to have some of your classic colors included,” says Eiseman of this season’s color lineup. What she sees as being unique about the soft caramel shade this year is the way you can expect it to be styled: this time around they’re the ultimate complement to pops of bright colors.
This bold pink hue was a favorite on the runways for Santlofer. “I loved Saks Potts for their combos of magenta and olive green,” she says. She adds that for her own line Rosette, she likes to pair the electric color with a deep chocolate hue as a study of contrasts. “A deep brown with a lime green or magenta accent feels very fresh to me and certainly not as intimidating as wearing a full-color look,” she says.
A wide range of blue tones — from navy to a light sky color — popped up on runways like Miu Miu and Stella McCartney, but electric cobalt is the hue that’s stood out as the must try for the season. Combined with sleek black, it's invigorating without feeling too bold.
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