The lingering storm clouds of 2020 are parting on the dawn of 2021, making way for a bright sunshine yellow and powerful light gray as the official hues of the new year.
Pantone, the global authority on all things color theory and trending palettes, has released the 2021 color of the year — well, actually colors of the year, with two hues chosen for the upcoming 365 days.
The first is a bright, joyous yellow, called Illuminating (Pantone 13-0647), and the other is a light gray, called Ultimate Gray (Pantone 17-5104.)
One could argue that Illuminating is all about the promise of a happy new year — while Ultimate Gray acknowledges the somber reality of the past pandemic months.
This is the first time since 2016 that two colors were set to share the spotlight. In 2016, the pair was a soft pink called Rose Quartz and a light periwinkle called Serenity.
In fact, the two colors chosen for 2021 tell a lot.
“The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted, this is essential to the human spirit.”
Pantone’s choice of hues also provides a palette for us to color the next year — from what we wear and see on the runways to how we design and furnish our homes. The company provides guidance for how to combine the two colors into one cohesive look, to brighten up any day and go steadfast into the future.
“A marriage of strength and optimism, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating do not have to be used in equal proportions, either color can take precedence whether for apparel, beauty, home furnishings, product design or packaging,” reads the press release.
From beauty products to home goods, The Post took a look at this color combo and gathered up some must-haves to make sure you keep up with the times and these trending colors. Bringing positivity and resilience with them, here is how you can embrace Illuminating and Ultimate Gray in the year to come.
Colors of the year in apparel
Fashion is no stranger to color combinations, and so having two colors for 2021 is a blessing in disguise for this upcoming year. From everyday essentials to handbags and shoes, the yellow and gray combo is sure to bring the sunshine to any runway and clothing store this year.
“Illuminating punctuated by a touch of Ultimate Gray conveys a message of sunshine and strength. Enduring Ultimate Gray provides a great bouncing off point with Illuminating bringing in some brightness by way of a scarf, footwear, handbag, shawl [and] tops,” reads Pantone’s press release.
Cariuma is back with their third Color of the Year collaboration with Pantone. This year, with two colors comes two different shoes, one in the Illuminating yellow and the other in Ultimate Gray.
“Brazilian sustainable shoe brand, Cariuma, is proud to be named Pantone’s official footwear partner for their 2021 Color of the Year with limited-edition designs of their OCA Low sneaker. That’s right. New Year, TWO brand-new Pantone colors.”
The low-top sneakers pop in the signature colors and feature the Pantone logo on the tongue, side and inside sole of the shoe. As an added bonus, the company uses recycled rubber for the outsole and a plant-based memory-foam insole, providing comfort for you and benefits for the planet.
Both colors will be available for pre-order Dec. 10 on the Cariuma website, so make sure to put your name down for this Pantone official collab.
Hotty Hot Short II in Lemon Vibe, $58
Get going in the new year with these lemon-yellow shorts from Lululemon.
The Hotty Hot Short II comes in a variety of colors, but the lemon vibe color provides the pop of color you need to get motivated. Pair the shorts with a gray tank top or a pair of gray sneakers for the complete color scheme and start your workout in style.
Gymshark Women’s Fit Cropped Leggings, $30
Hit the gym in style with these charcoal and yellow cropped leggings from cult-favorite workout brand Gymshark.
The leggings feature the gray color, with the pop of yellow peaking out in the waistband, adding brightness to the whole look. The pants are only $30 on the Gymshark website, and also come in two other color combinations in addition to the colors of the year.
Anthropologie Buttercup Textured Knit Jacket, $158
What’s up, buttercup?
This sweater is the perfect wardrobe staple for the winter, as the yellow color will warm up any outfit, and the cozy material will keep you toasty all season long. The knit jacket is cropped at the hip, perfect for pairing with gray waisted jeans or a skirt and tights for a more dressed-up look.
Z Zenga Colorblock Crewneck Sweater, $570
Colorblocking is all the rage, especially when those colors are the stars of the upcoming year.
From Z Zenga, this luxury sweater is made of both wool and alpaca, keeping you extra warm. The colorblocking is super flattering on any body type and features the yellow and gray combination with a pop of white for extra brightness. The sweater is sold at Nordstrom and currently comes in sizes medium and large, while supplies last.
Apparis Luna Yellow Faux Fur Scarf, $85
Add a zing of color to any winter day with a yellow scarf from Apparis.
The faux fur company makes a rainbow of jackets and winter accessories, and, of course, could never skip over the happiest color of them all. The scarf is made of faux fur with polyester lining, featuring a pull-through closure to fit snuggly on the neck and keep the cold breeze away. The scarf matches with any coat, but bonus points if paired with an Ultimate Gray jacket or sweater.
Nordstrom Puffer Jacket, $49
Get the season’s most-wanted puffer jacket in the trendiest color on the market. The butter-yellow puffer coat from Nordstrom comes in both a men’s and women’s style — or both if you want a his-and-hers winter wardrobe. Perfectly paired with gray jeans or a scarf, the warm jacket will melt the season’s chill away and leave you feeling happy and bright until spring.
ASOS Helene Berman long ruth in houndstooth check, $214
There’s nothing classier than a houndstooth trenchcoat, except maybe one in the gray and yellow colors of the year. The jacket from ASOS features a wool-mix fabric in a gray and black houndstooth check with a bright sunshine-yellow lining that makes an appearance when worn open or when out and about blowing in the winter wind.
UGG Women’s Fluff Yeah slide slippers, $99.95
Slide into the new year with the trendiest slippers on the market.
The UGG brand slippers combine the two colors in a beautiful gradient, going from a darker gray into a bright butter yellow. They have a strap on the back to secure the slippers onto your feet, featuring the UGG logo in yellow and white. The slippers themselves are made of supersoft sheepskin lining and have rubber soles to prevent slipping in your slippers.
Reebok Rewind Run sneakers, $59.99
Run, don’t walk to get these yellow and gray shoes from Reebok.
The Rewind Run sneakers come in a great combo of bright yellow, light gray and navy blue, tying together the shoe with a solid white sole.
“Flash back to ’80s running style in the Rewind Run sneakers from Reebok. The mixed-material upper and colorful side stripes keep your retro look on point. All-day comfort comes from the cushy sockliner and lightweight EVA midsole,” reads the DSW product page.
The shoes come in men’s sizing — from 7 to 12 are currently in stock.
Kate Spade Margaux medium satchel, $209
The perfect purse can change your entire day, so bring the sunshine with a bag to match.
This bright-yellow bag from Kate Spade is a must-have to ward off the rainy days and bring on the sun. The medium satchel is made of refined grain leather, embossed with the brand’s logo. With plenty of pockets, both interior and exterior, carry everything you need in one bag, bringing brightness wherever you go.
Color of the year in beauty
A smoky eye is a classic staple, but this year, consider adding a pop of yellow to the smoke, combining the two colors of 2021 into one cohesive look.
“A mix of warm and cool tones, combining Ultimate Gray and Illuminating in hair or nails makes a dramatic statement. Illuminating sparkles and shimmers when paired with Ultimate Gray in eye makeup,” suggests the official Pantone press release.
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Diamond Ball-Out, $34
Shine bright like a diamond with Rihanna’s own Fenty Beauty highlighter.
The bright gray tones make your cheekbones glisten and glow, a perfect addition to any holiday makeup or to add a glittery flair to everyday looks. The highlighter is an online exclusive through the Fenty website, and best of all, the makeup is part of Rihanna’s charity organization, the Clara Lionel Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping education, health and emergency response programs around the world. And 100% of the proceeds from this silver shade go to the foundation, making this purchase feel as good as it looks.
Olive & June Bright & Focused nail polish, $8
Choose just one shade of yellow polish, or grab a mixture of grays and yellows for an accent nail manicure with this deal from Olive & June. The Bright & Focused color is a beautiful soft yellow, ECC is a light gray and the OJPAS shade is a metallic silver to bring the two colors together with a dash of sparkle.
Freck Beauty UO Exclusive Lid Lick fluid eyeliner, $16
Hit the Dip is a beautiful marigold color, adding a bright stripe of color to any eye-makeup look. Way more fun than a traditional black liner, the butter yellow is also buttery soft and easy to apply with the paintbrush tip applicator. The UO exclusive product is marketed as a liner, but can also be used on your lids, brows, cheeks or wherever else needs a bit of a sun-kissed glow.
Clinique Neutral Grey All About Shadow 8-pan palette, $42
Perfect your smoky eye with this gray-centric palette from Clinique.
The compact features eight colors, including warm- and cool-toned grays as well as a few accent colors to make the silver shimmer stand out. Sold at Ulta, this palette also comes with a Fresh Pressed Recharge System, free with your online purchase over $30.
MAC Memories of Space eye shadow, $18
Use this bright canary yellow shadow to build up color on your lids, or as an accent to your gray smoky eye. The MAC eye shadow is super pigmented, making a little go a long way. The statement color blends well and can be used both wet or dry for a variety of textures and looks.
Color of the year in home decor
“Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are a great combination to set the mood in any room in the home adding a dose of sunshine and positivity. Juxtaposing Illuminating with Ultimate Gray in table linens, sheeting and home accessories including pillows and tabletop infuses vitality and liveliness,” reads the Pantone press release section on interior design and decor.
Whether your work-from-home space needs a pop of color to keep you motivated or your bedroom needs a grounding gray to help you unwind, the two hues are perfect for home furnishings and exciting design.
Anthropologie Arcadia Steel Side Chair, $144 to $228
Mix and match these yellow and gray steel chairs for the ultimate backyard set up or sunroom seating arrangement. They are the perfect size to arrange and re-arrange for guests and move about the house for extra seating when needed. The chairs are durable enough for use both indoors and outside and wipe clean with a dry cloth for easy clean-up after a socially distanced outdoor dinner.
Le Creuset Sauteuse 3.5-quart, $179
Brighten up your kitchen with new cookware from Le Cruset.
The honey-colored pot can hold 3.5 quarts and is the perfect size for soups, stews, casseroles, one-pot meals and more. It works in the oven or on the stovetop and can be brought straight to the table for a bright serving dish. The pot is on sale now, down from $299.99.
KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5 quart tilt-head stand mixer in Buttercup, $499
A yellow KitchenAid is hard to come by, so check this buttercup mixer out while it’s still in stock.
The mixer is a countertop staple, plus the mixing power makes it the whole package. While the lighter yellow color is sold out at all major retailers, including the KitchenAid website, we found this darker yellow version at Walmart, available while supplies last.
Hello Sunshine embroidered pillow, $40
Hello sunshine and hello comfort with this happy accent pillow from Rifle Paper Co.
The pillow is embroidered with the welcoming greeting, bringing good-weather vibes to any room. The bright yellow is complemented by light-gray text. The pillowcase can be purchased alone, or filled with a polyester pillow for an extra $10 or a down pillow for an added $30.
Happy Face PEVA shower curtain, $24
Come on, get happy and put on a happy face.
This shower curtain from Urban Outfitters is sure to make anyone smile, with a pair of yellow and gray smiley faces all over the fabric.
“Get your happy on when you step into the shower behind this smiling PEVA curtain. Featuring happy face icons all over the waterproof liner, topped with perforations along upper edge for easy hanging,” reads the product description.
Wallpaper can change with the seasons, or at least every time there is a new color of the year.
The peel-and-stick wallpaper from the artists at Society6 is the perfect tool to change up your space without the long-term commitment or mess of painting. With so many patterns and colors to choose from, take a look at warm grays and bright yellows to brighten up your space or ground your room in color and pattern.
Brooklinen Hammam Robe, $83.30
Get yourself a towel that can do both.
This Hammam robe doubles as a super soft and absorbent towel, sold in a warm gray color perfect for this upcoming year. The robe is made in Turkey with a Turkish cotton terry-cloth interior. The robe also has an oversized hood for keeping wet hair dry and drip-free and two pockets for any bath-time essentials.
Parachute sateen Venice set, $279 to $379
Curl up in the softest sheets this season, with the grounding gray set from Parachute.
This sheet set is a great package that includes everything you need for a silky soft goodnight’s sleep. It comes with one fitted sheet, one pillowcase set and one duvet cover. These superpopular sheets, which come in sizes ranging from a twin to a California king, tend to sell out in popular sizes, so make sure to check back often if your size is sold out.
Give your entire bed a refresh with this full bedding set from Crane and Canopy. The Ashbury Yellow set features a floral combination of yellow and gray, bringing warmth and positivity into the room where you need it most. The collection includes a matching duvet cover and shams, and can be paired with other yellow and gray items like throw blankets, sheet sets and more.
Kate Spade New York two-slice toaster in yellow, $59.99
Start your morning off right with a butter-yellow toaster for your buttered toast.
This retro toaster from designer Kate Spade can make two pieces of toast at a time, perfect for busy mornings. It also has a defrost and reheat setting, coming in handy for breakfast and beyond. The toaster adds a pop of color to any countertop as you wait for the pop signaling breakfast is ready.