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Color Shift Is a Sign of the Casual Look's Departure (January 22, 2007)

A feminine knitted dress (Laisse Passe Co., Ltd.)
Until recently, black and white have reigned supreme as the base fashion colors, and a casual look has ruled the day. But now the popularity of gray is on the rise, and the list of fashion essentials is topped by feminine items, such as long knit cardigans, dresses with cinched waists and flared hemlines, and traditional pleated skirts.

Base Color Trends
The base color is the keynote color, the color that accounts for the largest share of the total surface area of the clothes that make up an outfit. The usual basic colors include black, gray, navy, brown, and beige. Although these colors have much less impact than bright colors, the predominant base color in style is constantly changing in response to the fashion mood, as a look at base-color trends over the past few decades reveals.

In the 1970s, the base color was blue, exemplified by the jeans that formed the cornerstone of the hippie and unisex fads. Then in the 1980s, when the quirky, avant-garde "Design & Character" fashions created by Kawakubo Rei of Comme des Garçons and Yamamoto Yohji had their heyday, black from head to toe was all the rage. Since the 1990s, casual fashion has reigned, and changes in the dominant base color have occurred at an accelerated pace. For a time, preferences leaned toward either a black-and-white monotone scheme or beige, brown, and other naturals. Later, a jeans revival made blue the main base color once again, but only until the military look ushered in a vogue for earth tones.

Generally speaking, certain fashion trends go with certain base colors. When casual fashions are popular, blue is in. Strong fashion statements tend to be written in black; a preference for warmer, gentler tones is accompanied by a shift to browns and beiges; and pure or tidy looks tend to show up in white.

The ribbon at the waist is key to this look. (Laisse Passe Co., Ltd.)

Signal of the Casual Look's Departure
Between the boldness of black and the purity of white lies gray, a mixture of the two. Trend-watchers believe that the current focus on innocent, refined gray is a backlash against the long-reigning casual look, defined by layered fashions and jeans. This reaction has consumers reaching for neat, refined items with a conservative mood and formal items like uniforms and suits.

Every new fashion trend reshuffles the deck of base colors. The popularity of gray is a sign of the casual look's departure.

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Copyright (c) 2007 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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