What’s in Style? Trending Colors in the USA from Past Decades to the Present

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From the psychedelic 60’s to the vibrant, expressive years of the ’00 decade, color trends have always changed, and often changed radically. Below we have summarized the trending color themes of the past decades in the USA. These themes are not only relative to fashion but are also often reflected by design and art movements.

1960’s – The Psychedelic Years

For those who witnessed the sixties, it was a decade they will never forget. The Beatles, the rising counter-culture movement, social upheaval, and many similar events influenced the popular colors in the 1960’s. Among the older generations during those years, the most popular colors were pastel shades of blue, green, yellow, and red. However, the younger generation, perhaps influenced by the hippie movement in the late decade years, preferred more vibrant mixes of analogous colors. One of the most popular colors of the decade was yellow. From Aureolin yellow to sunglow yellow, people of all ages were rocking this juicy hue.

1970’s – The Disco Years & Back to Earth

The 1970’s in America saw a mix of color themes emerge. Brought on by the recession in the early to mid-70’s and the rising environmental movement (perhaps influenced by the hippie movement of the late 60’s) brought on a mix of earthy, grainy colors. Popular colors among this mix included avocado green and coffee brown. On the other hand, the sudden rise of disco brought on a wave of vibrant colors in the mix. Stark white quickly gained the attention of pop culture, made popular by the flashy Elvis Presley. However, the most popular color among the disco crowd were varying shades of orange. Blending the two styles together, of the disco and down the earth crowd, popular hues of orange included amber and rust orange.

1980’s – The Breakout Years

The colors of the 1980’s were a further evolution of the colors popular during the disco years of the 70’s, although with clear distinguishable trends. For example, the rise of pop music due to the growing influence of MTV, gave pop idols more influence over setting trends as kids rushed to dress in vibrant and eye-catching colors. Due to increased influence of technology, society started to look towards, and become increasingly fascinated with, the future. Interestingly enough, this gave rise to the most popular colors among the design community to be azure blue and midnight purple, a large difference from the previous decade.

1990’s – The Distinctive Years

By the 1990’s, individualism was gripping society as everyone tried to set themselves apart from the others. This growing trend, which completely didn’t blow up until a decade later, saw the rise of mix and match trends. Businesses, trying to catch the customer’s attention and distinguish themselves, went with color schemes unheard of in prior decades. A bright firecracker orange might have been worked in with a more serene coral blue. More so evident among the fashion community, the theme of mix and matching was largely influenced by the grunge years in music and the increased popularity of anime among the younger generation.

2000’s – The Vibrant Years

Society at the turn of the century witnessed a complete revolution in trending colors unlike anything seen before. The technological revolution and the rise of minimalism led to an even more increased sense of individualism. Largely varying shades of red were by far the most popular colors of the decade. Any shade from the dark chili pepper red to the light and gentle rose red was fair game, as everybody flocked to rock the new trending color. However by the end of the decade, the trend started changing rapidly. At the end of the 2000’s, the most popular color had shifted to black and the pastel shades of green and blue, perhaps influenced by a “back to the basics” movement evident during the recession years.

Final Thoughts

Although the above information is rather general, it is also not conclusive, meaning not everybody during those decades “rocked” the colors described. However, this information is largely made by observing popular culture, movies, TV shows, and even marketing plans of businesses in the decades discussed. By carefully studying this information we can see how popular trends have evolved throughout the years and what they were influenced by. Going forward into the future, we might see trends emerge that are completely contradictory to those before, or we might see another “back to the classics” type movement where everybody starts wearing and designing with colors that were popular throughout the 60’s. Only time will tell now.