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Pastels are Having a Moment

March 4, 2024

Pastels are Having a Moment

Pastels are back in fashion and having a major moment right now. As a lover of all things soft and muted, I’m thrilled to see the resurgence of these delicate hues. There’s something so romantic and ethereal about pastels that instantly makes any outfit or space feel more feminine and dreamy.

The History of Pastels

Pastels have a long history in art, fashion, and design. Pastels refer to pale, soft colors like light pink, mint, lavender, and buttercream. The name comes from pastels, which are sticks of pure powdered pigment used by artists to create drawings and paintings.

Pastels first emerged as an art medium in Renaissance Europe. Artists would grind up chalk or pigments to create the muted powdery hues that were perfect for delicate sketches. Pastels became incredibly popular in 18th century France and were used by famous Rococo artists like Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Jean-Étienne Liotard. Soft pastel tones fit perfectly with the frivolous, ornamental style of the Rococo period.

Pastels made their way into fashion in the 18th century as well. Pale dresses in Easter egg colors were very on-trend, especially among French nobility like Marie Antoinette.

The Pastel Comeback

While vivid, saturated colors dominated much of 20th century design, in the last few years pastels have seen a major revival. Light, desaturated hues feel like a breath of fresh air and offer a romantic, optimistic perspective in contrast to moodier color palettes.

Spring/Summer 2022 runways were full of dreamy pastel looks. Designers like Chanel, Dior, and Prada all showed pastel dresses, suits, and accessories. Standout pastel pieces included a lavender tweed suit from Chanel and a mint green dress covered in ostrich feathers from Prada.

Home decor and products are also seeing a huge uptick in pastels. Searches for “pastel home” and “pastel aesthetic” have skyrocketed on Pinterest. Major retailers like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters have launched new pastel home collections, featuring furniture, textiles, and accessories in shades of pink, blue, green and lilac. Pastel kitchenware like Le Creuset’s line of lavender cast iron pans and Our Place’s blue dinnerware have also become bestsellers.

Why Pastels are Popular Now

There are a few key factors driving pastels back into the mainstream:

  • Nostalgia – Pastels are inherently retro, calling to mind 1950s housewives and Easter Sundays. They offer a sense of familiarity and childhood joy.

  • Y2K style – 90s and early 2000s aesthetics are back in fashion. Pastels were hugely popular during this era, seen in Juicy Couture tracksuits and Other Stories baby tees.

  • Cottagecore – Cottagecore, which romanticizes pastoral life, leans heavily into soft, vintage pastels. The trend reflects a desire for escape and nostalgia.

  • Optimism – After years of doomscrolling and lockdowns, people are drawn to uplifting, cheerful colors that spark joy and evoke a sense of hope. Pastels feel refreshing.

  • Femininity – Pastels are inherently soft and feminine. As gender norms continue to shift, designer embrace colors and silhouettes traditionally view viewed as “girly”.

How to Wear and Decorate with Pastels

Want to incorporate more pastels into your wardrobe and home? Here are some tips:

Wearing Pastels

  • Try a pastel suit – Make a statement with a monochromatic light pink, blue or lemon suit, like those seen on the runways.

  • Mix and match – Layer different pastel hues together for an eclectic effect. Try pairing a lavender cardigan over a mint dress.

  • Accessories – Add pops of pastel through your accessories. Pastel handbags, hair clips and jewelry are an easy way to test the trend.

  • Play with texture – Pastels look amazing with shiny satins, airy chiffons, or soft cashmere. Experiment with different fabric textures.

Decorating with Pastels

  • Textiles – Use pastels in your soft furnishings – bedding, pillows, rugs and curtains. Floral pastel prints are a lovely option.

  • Walls – For big impact, paint a wall or piece of furniture in a muted pastel hue like robin’s egg blue.

  • Vignettes – Create a little pastel still life scene on a mantle or table with ceramic objects, flowers, books, etc.

  • Mix and match – Pair pastel decor items with contrasting black and white accents for visual interest.

  • Outdoors – Use pastel outdoor pillows, containers, or decor items to create a dreamy vibe on your patio or balcony.

Conclusion

With their soft, delicate beauty, it’s no wonder pastels are trending in fashion and interior design again. I’m so delighted to see the return of these whimsical, romantic shades. Pastels remind us all to slow down and appreciate the simple joys of life. A pastel color palette can instantly inject a space or outfit with ethereal style and cozy comfort. I know I’ll be wearing and decorating with these uplifting, nostalgic hues all season long.

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