Why Navy Blue Is the Real Color of the Year

Smart. Sophisticated. Simple. Stylish. Nice. Good. Our favorite shade of blue is actually the best color to wear during this strange year.
IMAGE Getty/ Pantone

According to Pantone, the color of 2021 is actually two colors: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. One is grey and one is yellow and they are, according to the company, "A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting". I'm not sure an entire year – 12 months of waking up, going to the shops, being on the computer, not getting an Ocado slot, going to the bigger shops – can be summarised by any color (s), but that's what Pantone's job is: lots of people in lab coats sat around a table talking about colors and what they mean.

So yellow and grey. Fine. But no, not fine. Pantone is wrong, because the color of the year is neither gray nor yellow. It is actually navy blue.

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Florals in spring, men wearing navy... groundbreaking. Except that it is exactly this consistent, solid unobtrusiveness that makes it the perfect shade to navigate during these – what's it again? – these Unprecedented Times. Navy is old reliable, it is Mr. Menswear, it is the color of a million unremarkable suits and a million beautiful ones. After months and months (and months) of at-home dressing, it is the color crutch that can be relied upon.

Tom Hardy wearing navy in Cannes, which is a good place to wear it


At the start of spring last year, experimenting with getting dressed from home was fun. It was exciting. It was a pair of JW Anderson multi-colored clogs; a Casablanca silk shirt; a rare restaurant t-shirt and the 'Moby Dick of trousers'. Loosened from the shackles of commuting and office etiquette, many of us were allowed to lose our minds a bit with the clothes that we wore around the house. But, much like baking, walking, watching legacy television programs from the early 2000s, and generally sustaining myself, the novelty of getting dressed has worn off. I want clothes that are stylish, simple, and uncomplicated. If summer was my lockdown Liberace season, then this winter is my Steve Jobs. I need a uniform to survive in (and maybe invent the new iPhone and make one billion pounds?) and that uniform has become entirely based around a certain shade of dark blue.

The beauty of monochrome dressing is that it what it denies you in color diversity, it opens up plenty of options in texture. As autumn has drawn into winter, I've found an almost-accidental uniform of Nike tracksuit bottoms or Universal Works cords, both in navy. Uniqlo cashmere, Quaker Marine Supply fishing knit, or Sunspel lambswool jumper, all in navy. A North Face fleece or a Descente Allterrain puffer jacket if I venture out of the house, with a Universal Works beanie in... navy. Combining elements of British workwear, Japanese Gorpcore, and lazy sportswear in one convenient package. The few times I've braved the commute to the office, it's a navy suit that I've reach for instinctively. It doesn't matter the material, it all comes together when the shade is the same.

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Photo by ESTROP.

One of the other beauties of navy is that is completely resistant to insane lockdown purchases. Unlike that leopard print Kapital fleece or Acne floral shirt that seemed like a good idea at the time, you can be sure that whatever you buy in navy blue is going to stay resolutely In Fashion forever. Take Signor Navy himself, Giorgio Armani, a man who for 45 years has been championing the shade in all its various and luxurious forms and functions, practicing what he preaches on the Milan catwalks with a personal style that is, summer or winter, 1985 or 2020, resolutely dark blue.



There'll be a time where clashing shades and weird trousers and painterly silks make sense again, but now is a time for playing the outfit hits. Navy, navy, navy, and more navy.

Good for now. Good forever.

If that doesn't convince you, then take a look at the face of this Pantone-grey cat. Then look at the calm, ready-for-anything face of Giorgio 'Navy' Armani. Case closed.



This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Finlay Renwick
Finlay Renwick is the Digital Editorial Assistant at
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