One of the fashion industry’s strategies to ride out the tough economic climate is on a wave of tranquility, offering up beach shades of ocean blue and sandy neutrals as a dominant color palette for the spring and summer.
The colors evoke someplace we’d all rather be, and designers and retailers are hoping shoppers will take a new wardrobe with them.
“Besides the fact that blue is a universally flattering color, I delved into deep aqua and cerulean as escapism. You see those colors and you think of being on a beautiful island, and we all need a little of that – or a lot,” says designer Peter Som.
The market is ripe for the change in mood, says stylist Jesse Garza, half of the color consultancy Visual Therapy, and now is when we crave these colors, providing a contrast to the passing gray winter and mud of early spring.
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This season has a refreshing vibe, says Nordstrom’s fashion director Gregg Andrews. The fluid fabrics mimic the movement of water, but many of the materials also are soft and diaphanous, reminiscent of the open sky.
“This is about the tranquility and calmness of nature, not so much about the nature in the ‘green’ movement,” Andrews says. “It’s a way to take a mental vacation.”
Banana Republic, whose roots are famously in earthy shades, launches its new “eco-chic” Heritage Collection next month, with a lot of silk and bamboo yarns, providing a rich texture reminiscent of the sand, explains Simon Kneen, creative director and executive vice president of design. “It’s a new type of luxury. Being eco-friendly is more luxurious than embellishment.”
These fabrics take sunkissed color, especially watery blues and greens, particularly well, Kneen says, with a final result that looks both effortless and stylish.
“We’ve been iconically associated with really bright colors, but we wanted to register a change and feel different,” says J.Crew creative director Jenna Lyons. “It feels a little dreamy. … And they’re colors I don’t have in my wardrobe already.”
Kneen suggests the first items in a woman’s vacation suitcase be a cropped cargo pant, sort of a boyfriend pant, in a sand color along with an aqua silk dress. “The versatility of these colors means they take you from the morning, to lunch with friends or a date at night,” Kneen says.
The most fashion-forward look would mix together different hues of blue, says Nordstrom’s Andrews.
“If you already own navy blue tailored pieces, this is a good opportunity to update them with something in a lighter or brighter blue – maybe even something in satin with sheen,” he says. “If you want to wear it with the black you already have, try a saturated blue tone like cobalt. They’ll look the most balanced, but it’s not the newest way to wear black or blue.”