If you follow the annual Pantone Color of the Year announcements, you no doubt heard that the color for 2018 is Ultra Violet. For many, Ultra Violet is not an easy color to wear. You must have a cool and somewhat bright complexion or you will look ghostly wearing it.

Color of the Year 2018

I think the choice this year was somewhat political. It serves like an antidote to all the ‘heat’ in the news last year. Many shades of purple speak to us of spirituality and refinement. Purples have a calming effect, a noble pedigree.

Personally, I don’t care for the entire concept of the ‘color of the year.’ It was started as a marketing invention in 2000 in order to sell paint, interior items and graphic design. Now it informs almost every fashion house.

The upside of this trend is that when you go shopping for clothes you will likely find things that go together because everyone is carrying the same colors. The downside is that it does a disservice to those of us for whom wearing our best palette colors is a major part of staying visible, particularly as we age.

For me, this year’s Ultra Violet is at the opposite end of the spectrum which holds a special place in my heart: orange.

An Orange Dress

When I was 15, my Aunt Helene who always dressed her girls in pretty and fashionable clothes, presented me with the gift of an orange shirtwaist dress. It wasn’t just that it was orange. It was the perfect orange for my complexion.

It was a saturated shade but not garish. It was very unusual. It spoke to my 15-year-old energetic self. Orange is a color that conveys independence, expansiveness and optimism. It connects us with our nervous system, so you might say it grounds us.

Quixotically, it is also the color of monks in the Far East. But sadly, independence, optimism and expansiveness are not qualities that resonate with a broad, general population. This is part of the reason why there is such an emphasis on neutrals in fashion. Neutrals say ‘safe.’ But, I think they say ‘invisible.’

Of course, neutrals – black, gray, beige, white, brown, navy – can form the basis of a good wardrobe. We all wear them. But lately, in many of the online fashion houses, particularly those catering to a younger population, they are almost the only colors you will find.

They convey a particular message: “We are all alike. I’m no better or different than you are. We are more than what we wear.” Those may be important beliefs in interpersonal relationships, but they relegate us all to a vast pool of sameness.

The Energetic Impact of the Colors We Wear

When we wear our ideal color palette, we simply come alive. This is crucial as we age if we want to stay visible.

Every color has energy and each one affects us deeply on an emotional and psychological level. Generally, the so-called ‘cool’ colors (blue, green and some shades of purple) have calming effects on us and on the people who see us wearing them.

The warmer ones (red, yellow and orange) speak of vitality, energy, action. This is true whether your reds are coral or candy apple and whether your greens are olive or emerald.

Color enlivens us. It helps establish our unique ‘brand’ in the world. Wearing clothes with the color of our eyes is especially valuable. When we wear any of the colors in the iris of our eyes we appear trustworthy, believable and approachable.

Picking the Right Colors

By the time we have reached our 60s, we have a pretty good general idea of the colors that work for us – but it’s the specific shade and tone of a color that determines that. So use the simple guide below to determine whether the color of a garment or accessory is one that best emphasizes your coloring.

Does this color:

  • Make my eyes sparkle?
  • Make my skin look healthy?
  • Enhance or emphasize my eye color?
  • Harmonize with things I wear and for which I am complimented regularly?

If you can say “yes” to any or all of those criteria, you can pretty much bet you have chosen the right shade of your favorite colors.

But what do you do in those years when your ideal colors just aren’t available? Wait. Be patient. Inevitably, they will come back. And when they do appear in the stores again, stock up, because they won’t be back again for a while.

Do you still love and wear your favorite colors? What are the colors that best match your complexion? What was the last time you wore a colorful garment that energized you emotionally and psychologically? Please join the conversation below!

Andrea PflaumerAndrea Pflaumer is the author of “Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Better Wardrobe for Every Women – Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes and the Over Fifty”, and “She’s Got Good Jeans.” She writes about fashion, style and the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area and hosts Vivacious and Visible After 50.

. Please visit her blog Shopping for the Real You.

Let's Have a Conversation!