This Ultimate Designer’s Color Guide for 2017 has been created for your study and adoration. I spent more time on it than I probably should have, but hey… your boy’s got to be up on the latest trends. Yes, there may be some grammatical flaws – but the insights and breakdowns of colors for 2017 will be absolute fire. Not only because of my insights, but because of the curation of organizations like Pantone, Sherwin Williams and Gucci. These companies have not only been studying fluctuations in people’s color preference, but also dictating where they will go, with the mere swing of a their proverbial paintbrush. All of this was written for your enjoyment, and also hopefully you’ll link to it in your next roundup, or tweet it to your friends!
Table of Contents
Why do I start with high fashion when thinking about color schemes?
I’m dead set on coming up with the best look I possibly can on the Minneapolis web design projects I work on, and by making sure to closely inspect what these designers are working on – I can get a look at where the money is going in regards to fashion. You bet your bottom dollar that people like Coach and Marc Jacobs are spending a lot of time on being dead center of where trends are headed, as their clothing fetches more money when they do hit it on the head.
This year’s women’s line from Coach has a earthy punk, rusted metals vibe, mixing in some dusty earth tones – building on Sherwin Williams prediction this past year that industrial colors would rule the color realm in 2016. Personally, I love the rockabilly vibe and think if the color trends in 2017 match up with this video – I’m going to enjoy 2017’s style.
Who are the designers featured in this resource and why?
The designers featured are the best of the 14 most expensive luxury brands, many of which are household names.
- Marc Jacobs
- Ralph Lauren
- Dolce & Gabbana
- Louis Vuitton
- Oscar De La Renta
Whether it’s the aggressively earthy tones that permeate all of these major designers lines for 2017, the rusty metal, dusty greens, yellows and pinks, or your pale creams and pinks that carry over from this past year – color trends are definitely more subdued this year. It seems to be bold in 2017 – is to go underground. Pulling from punk with vintage graphic tees, baby doll pinks, an overall dirtiness animates the look of so many of these fashion industry stalwarts.
What is the point of color in design? Well it’s decoration, and it’s also used to separate one item from the other – it can be used as a kind of ‘color blocking’ to give shape to things – it has emotional implications like bright, clean, open, closed, dark, brooding, fresh, and flirty. 2017 is a year of subtlety in color – the high minded designers at least have muted their tones somewhat dramatically and are flying under the radar.
Why is metal and pale so prevalent in 2017 fashion lines?
I suppose I could assign meaning where they may be none. To me – it’s a vintage thing. Not a vintage thing like the 60’s, 70’s or even the 90’s – it’s a vintage thing like the 1890’s. Like what was clothing like before the first car. It was browns, and silvers, and bronzes, and pale colors. I would say there are clearly departures from this whole direction – but there’s enough evidence in the lines for 2017 that to over-simplify might be an homage to similar days before you could order dominoes with a tweet – and probably more importantly, before we were blinded with overstated colors on every package and ad, and drenched in color while staring at screens all day.
It’s an homage to a simpler time.
The Louis Vuitton outfit on the far left smacks a little 90’s to me, pushes the metal theme hard. Bronze, golden yellow, silver and pale pink purse – this has to be the most 2017 outfit of the bunch.
The Dolce and Gabbana outfit second from the left shows a type of flower pattern that’s been around for the past couple years, with a bit more of a mature color palette – the blue green mixed in, with a very pale cream background indicates these repeating patterns on white and variations of white are around to stay for a while here. Very well done – and fresh with that blue green being a different than what you might expect. Tropical without feeling hokey.
The Louis Vuitton outfit third in is maybe not something I would wear personally, but maybe just draw some inspiration from – bronze to gold arms, with a deep red shirt and yellow tinged shoes. Maybe one of the louder of these outfits – this one goes for vintage without calling to mind a specific era, except maybe stoner – hipster – 90’s – into rage against the machine – but also into die antwoord kind of way.
The Fendi outfit second from the right is an even better example of the pattern on white trend continuing into 2017 – pale pink top accenting the pattern’s complimentary colors.
The Coach outfit on the far right is showing a clear black and white color scheme – with just a little brown and blue mixed in for good measure. I’m of the mind that black is always in – but I think with the pale and metal color theme I’ve identified in 2017 fashion lines, black and white being pretty common seems to make sense.
Simplicity and understatement being the common thread.
So this not necessarily a ‘high fashion’ website – but this website I designed in 2016 showcases my identification of pale pink as an important color this past year. It’s fortunate that this also means that the user interface for the website compliments skin tones well. Considering that the lines would likely be shifting year to year, I wanted to identify how I could match up with one consistent element, which more me was pinkness in some of the models skin – and the pink would likely comfortably compliment darker skin models as well.
Picking out some trends and patterns from 2017 high fashion lines colors
Gold, brown, silver, grey, silver, bronze – anything you’d see on a rusted truck in the country or some old farm equipment that never made it to the paint stage – this is now a major theme and these colors a centerpiece for 2017.
Never mind the why, these colors are heavily represented in many of the top designers spring and summer lines. These is one major departure from 2016’s lines, with pale pinks and blues and deep blue and red being pretty popular in both years lines.
The tricky thing about color is that whenever one movement of color trends reaches critical mass – it will often be abandoned in droves by these top designers. There are a couple color choices that shirk that trend – one of them being gold and another being pale pink, which are dominating this year and next.
Pales pinks and blues
What was my favorite color of 2016? A pale pink – this pale blue and pink motif carries through into 2017. Anything pale and simple in large amounts – really seems to be a hit in these lines.
Nothing says marketable and classy like a high-end looking dress or outfit that is pale pink – and in that way for graphic designers looking to class up their designs, if you can mix these huge swathes of pale pink with skin tones and lots of space with an object in one third of the space.
The application of pale colors seems to be coupled with another trend, which is the fact that designers are using it in large flat spaces and not just little pieces of fabric intermingled.
The outliers – Bright or Deep colors used in blocky ways
When there are brighter colors represented in 2017 color lines, they seem to be used in somewhat blocky ways, like a set of gaudy 90’s earrings, or bad dentist wall art. Not the colors per say, but the diagonal lines and blockiness to the patterns – the colors are delightful off the beaten path and bold in a fresh way. Perhaps the designers take them very seriously, but I feel like these designs are almost a little humorous in there overly dramatic lines and blockiness.
If you want to throw some bright colors in with your dark olive, khaki, black and pale colors in 2017 – be sure shoot for diagonal lines, and use a bit dustier of variations. The day-glow and light-bright colors are not fashionable to say the least this next year unless they are at least cut with a little bit of grey or a more moderate tint.
What about other color experts? – Pantone goes brighter than most
Pantone always baffles me with it’s disregard for high fashion consideration. For the reason, we have to look into how Pantone makes it’s money. Pantone’s 120 employees have shifted from ink mix-masters to color economists, and color psychologists – with 60 experts canvassing the world at any time to continue their expertise in color.
Many designer’s rush to follow Pantone’s lead and mix in their predicted colors into their lines immediately – the standardization of these colors and the right to use them is what much of the value of their company and it’s hues money-making abilities go to. So licensing and a stack of it’s shades, being that it’s one of the most recognizable standards for color is it’s primary generator of revenue.
Perhaps pale colors don’t demand the refreshing of your stack of colors in quite the same way as it’s generally brighter picks. That’s my guess for why Pantone’s colors are always so much brighter than what I’m seeing in major fashion lines.
I do love the Kale, Pale Dogwood, and Hazelnut and Island Paradise – a little acknowledgement to the pale and earthy goodness that predominates so much of high fashion in 2017.
Sherwin Williams predicts deep colors, and light pale colors intermingled with white
Sherwin Williams goes all in on the dark shades and white and pale colors – as opposed to anything bright or loud. Deepness, darkness, worldliness predominate – I love their example decor, demonstrating a mediterranean hominess.
Benjamin Moore picks “Shadow 2117-30” as it’s color of the year for 2017
Benjamin Moore chose ‘Simply White’ last year, and I found it to be incredibly ingenious of them, because it was all about locking people into their proprietary shade of white, and giving credo to what people already wanted – white space, space in general, and a big breath of ‘fresh air.’
So what happens when your color pick for last year turned out well, and you want to take a similar approach but you can’t choose the same thing? Go for the opposite. And they did – shoot for the shadow instead of the light. But in this situation, they made an even more savvy decision; they went for purple. A dark purple, that likely will take an even savvier eye to match directly with a competing paint brand. So why not just buy Benjamin Moore?
This particular hue of purple is delightfully on trend with the other deep blues and reds trending into 2017.
White with pattern on the top – reaching critical mass
The flower patterns that reached a new height in 2016 blossomed into a wide array of many other patterns, now over white more predominantly in 2017.
Whether it’s ice cream cones in a pattern on a t-shirt, or these crazy wild patterns at a fashion show, patterns on white and pale colors will continue to crop up and make 2017 the year of the pattern.
Opt out of the more common pattern and steer towards more original ones. No matter how delightful you feel like a piece of clothing is, if it’s in a super commonly frequented store and it’s a distinctive piece – you’re going to be sad when you’re out and about and you see it on someone else. So for these more original type patterns, look in less common places.
Masculine colors and trends
On the deep dark color side of 2017, it’s a great year for men’s fashion. Much of the color trend line already is well-suited to the often sedated traditional masculine side of color. If many men don’t feel the desire to replace their wardrobe’s every time a shade goes in or out of style – they can simply stay on the ‘safe side’, where the colors don’t move so quickly. Dark blue and dark red, brown, black and tan are all often in that safe zone.
Whether or not all men feel this is the case (that they don’t want to have to replace their fashion often,) for me it is definitely the case. Strangely enough, after putting in all this work on identifying color patterns in fashion – this next year I’ll likely spend more than half the time wearing black, white, and grey. I really just like to spend my time matching colors in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator rather than in my clothing lines.
Color Tools, Resource and Links
1. The Ultrabright Color Forecast – Slow to update, but brilliant picks for current stylish color schemes, curated in clean and classy moodboards.
2. Design Seeds – This is an incredible tool where you use the sliders to search for palettes with a particular color. I appreciate the way they pull the colors out of a photograph that’s displayed to make the palette as it gives you some real world context and is very pleasant.
3. Chir.ag Name that Color – a radical tool to let you know what a particular hex or CMYK color is called.
4. Name That Hue – Another awesome tool to do the same.
6. UI Gradients – Another curated set of gradients from another designer. A very nice resource that gives you the CSS for each gradient.
7. Examples of Great Web Design Color Palettes with Hex Codes – I wrote this in four main parts with a ton of radical examples curated from around the web. If you need a quick shot of color palette inspiration, this post has it – with the exact hex codes and color combinations you could use to achieve the same look.
8. Trendy Web Color Palettes and Material Design Color Schemes & Tools – A very helpful resource for showing web design color palettes in action and giving you the hex numbers for them very quickly.
9. What is White Space, and How to Use it in Web Design – From yours truly, I share some glorious way to use web design to showcase the things you’re trying to emphasize in your designs. Tons of very well done design inspirational examples.
10. Coolors – A very nice tool to mix and match color schemes when you’re in a rush.
My Picks for the Colors of 2017
If color and the lack of color can bring meaningful emotional connotation to our designs, our fashion and our decor – why not pay close attention and even project where we feel color will go and our favorites? I personally love these 7 and think they will dominate the world in 2017:
And glossy, matte black, grey and shades of white used to provide clean context for these other colors.
My final thoughts for color trends in 2017: It’s a subtle and subdued year for color. The cycle is longer than a year, but oscillates back and forth from pale and understated to bright in your face decadence. If I had to guess, in mid-2018 brighter, more intense colors will take root again.