50 Shades of Green


From its early identification with the Germanic root words "grass" and "grow," the color green has been associated with life, renewal and hope. Because in the natural, we are surrounded by a world of green trees, grass and meadows, the human eye feels very comfortable with this color and all its many shades. In fact, green not only dominates nature but also takes up the most space in the color spectrum that is visible to the eye. Its calming familiarity makes it the perfect backdrop or background for daily living, working and playing.

Since Pantone named Emerald its new Color of the Year, green has been receiving extra attention from both fashion and interior designers. Sexy, deep-green cocktail dresses and elegant jewel-tone evening gowns are currently in demand, but cheery, brightly patterned cotton sundresses and lime-green accessories and shoes are also showing up in department stores. When just one statement accessory is desired, an apple-green handbag is a perfect solution. Because this color works equally well with white, brown, gray or black outfits, there is no need to be continually switching purses.

Interior decorators love green because it doesn't shout for attention. Rather, it is comfortable providing a neutral background for a variety of regional and seasonal styles. For example, Benjamin Moore's Aganthus Green 472 is a mossy shade that is ideal for grounding other colors. Powerful corals, reds, blues or browns will feel right at home against such a gentle, backdrop. Similarly, Farrow and Ball's Stone White 11 is so quiet, the casual observer may not be able to tell if it is actually gray, green or taupe. To add some tropical or spring energy and excitement to a room, consider Benjamin Moore's Chic Lime 396. Paired with clean white, yellow or black, this fun color breathes life back into any space.

Although Emerald may be Pantone's popular color-of-choice for 2013, green has a long and rich history beyond the fashion world. Many Arab countries include it in their flags because green is a sacred Islamic color. Ireland also lays claim to green by associating it with its verdant countryside, St. Patrick, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers. Because of its association with safety and health, many drugs and medical products are packaged in green containers. Environmentalists have also co-opted this color. "Going green" has become a fashionable and politically correct attitude for countless businesses and private individuals. Folks with "green thumbs" are great with plants. A "green light" is permission to move forward in some manner, and "greener pastures" invite success just down the road.

Unfortunately, green also has some negative connotations. Being a "green-eyed monster" or "green with envy" is definitely not a good thing. A "greenhorn" or someone who is "green" is inexperienced, untested or perhaps just a beginner. If you are "green around the gills," you are looking pale and sickly.

What about the "greenback"? American bills may have originally been printed with black ink and green tints because green ink was readily available in large quantities. It was also fairly resistant to breaking down chemically or physically. Possibly the color also had some psychological effect as people subconsciously associated the new bills and the government with security and stability. In any case, using one tint has not been conducive to deterring counterfeiters. By the 1900s, bills of larger denominations were gradually being offered with more-complicated color blends.

Expect green to stay in fashion for some time. Almost everyone loves this color in at least one of its many shades. As the quiet guest in any room, green is both adaptable and supportive. It does not draw attention to itself and as such, is the perfect mixer. Yes, expect to be seeing the many shades of green everywhere in the weeks and months to come.


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