I love the announcement of the colors of the upcoming year by Pantone. It breaks the monotony of all the holiday hoopla. This year I was even more curious given the year we just had. Pantone’s decisions are never willy nilly. A lot of thought goes into it. For example, Illuminating and Ultimate Gray, 2021’s duo of colors for the year, were selected as a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting,” Ultimate Gray and Illuminating’s sunny yellow each serve a specific purpose. “Each of them has their own emotional aspect, the gray being the one that’s more supportive and solid, the practical foundation that we need, and the yellow is about hopefulness and sunshine and good cheer,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Institute. The hardest part for me will be remembering that Pantone spells gray with an ‘a’ and not an ‘e’ like I always do. But I digress.

When I first viewed the announcement, I thought it was just grey that was selected and got really bummed out. After this tremendously difficult year, grey just seemed like such a depressing color to choose, but then I saw they paired it with this bright lemony shade and it all made sense. It hasn’t been since that disastrous year they chose Rose Quartz and Serenity in 2015 that Pantone selected two colors to take this Color of the Year position.

I love the colors both together and on their own. It has been a long time since yellow was selected as one of Pantone’s Colors of the Year (last time was the shade Mimosa in 2009) and despite it not being a personal favorite for many to wear, it is a fantastic accessory color. Since 2000, the year Pantone started announcing Colors of the Year, a grey shade has never been chosen. Despite it being a grey shade, there is a clearness to it that you don’t see in all grey tones.

Not surprisingly, the reactions to the colors were mixed from my Facebook Group members. Some liked the shades but couldn’t foresee wearing them. Some acknowledged the happiness in the yellow shade but would never wear it and others just hated the colors. It’s not unlike most things, getting everyone to agree is highly unlikely. As for me, yellow is my favorite shade to accessorize with, plus I look good in the color. I am leaning into both colors on their own and together.


Not that I am trying to sway anyone into Pantone’s Colors of the Year, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, but sometimes it’s hard to envision colors unless we see them used. Below, I have put together five different looks styling the Ultimate Gray and Illuminating together. Let me know what you think after you take a look.

Outfit #1

In this outfit, I am popping yellow off of shades of grey. Being such a versatile shade, if you are looking for a bold coat color, yellow is a perfect choice. I styled this coat from Boden with a pair of grey trousers from Theory and a sweater from Vince. I finished the outfit with grey booties from Bella Vita, a bag from Rebecca Minkoff, a tissue-weight wool and cashmere scarf from Nordstrom, and a beret from Halogen.

Outfit #2

I styled this yellow sweater from Nordstrom with a pair of straight-leg jeans from Everlane. I finished the look with a pair of grey sneakers from Naturalizer and a backpack in burgundy from ALLSAINTS.

Outfit #3

If you don’t like the way yellow clothing looks on you, consider accessories. They can be so versatile while adding a punch to any look. I styled this MICHAEL Michale Kors handbag in Illuminating with a grey cashmere square neck sweater from Everlane, grey jeans from Wit and Wisdom, and a teal coat from J. Crew. I finished the outfit with a pair of water-repellant booties from Ecco.

Outfit #4

I love yellow shoes so much I have written blog posts about them. Yellow shoes are more of a warm-weather solution so you may want to back-burner this one. I styled these yellow loafers from Franco Sarto with a slim turtleneck sweater from Splendid and belted pleated trousers from ALC. I finished the look with a grey ALLSAINTS leather bag and earrings from Dean Davidson.

Outfit #5

In this last look, I am styling a yellow striped scarf from Nicoletta Rosi with a wool and cashmere coat in grey from Borneo, black jeans from AG and black sweater from Alice + Olivia. I finished the look with lug sole Chelsea boots from Sam Edelman and a cable knit pom-pom hat.

What do you think about Pantone’s colors of the year for 2021? Will you be wearing them?