When interior designer Barbara Balongue chose dining room chairs for eatery Autograph Brasserie in a plush midnight blue, she was aiming for a vibe that was expensive, regal, and most important, calm.

“We live in a fast-paced, high-tech life,” said Balongue, principal of the Villanova firm Balongue Design. “This blue envelops you in a sensuous, calming embrace, but still allows for a pretty pop of color."

Apparently, according to Pantone, the color forecasters based in Carlstadt, N.J., all of us are craving a similar dose of peace and tranquility. Because as of Thursday, it announced the 2020 color of the year is a cross between royal and navy, aptly named Classic Blue.

A swatch of Classic Blue, the 2020 Pantone color of the year.
A swatch of Classic Blue, the 2020 Pantone color of the year.

“In the kind of world we live in today, we need to feel protected, tranquil," said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "In this color, you can find your comfort zone, but depending on where it is, Classic Blue can be experiential, and unexpected.”

When it comes to fashion, Classic Blue is the new black for trousers and handbags, pumps and blazers, or fedoras and sunglasses — old-school yet modern at the same time.

“It’s a very wearable color that flatters most,” said Karen Giberson, executive director of New York-based Accessories Council. “It’s not fancy, but simple, dependable, a good staple. It looks good on men and women.”

Pantone’s Classic Blue
Courtesy of Pantone
Pantone’s Classic Blue

But when it comes to beauty, it takes on a funky personality, especially as fingernail polish and bold streaks in already dark hair, and on a pouty lip, à la Rihanna’s Fenty style.

“It lends itself to a futuristic look in makeup,” said Nina Wray-Groark, a makeup artist at Rizzieri Salon & Spa in Moorestown, N.J. “People have been asking for it all of the time.”

Classic Blue is Pantone’s 21st color of the year. Each year fashion insiders look forward to the announcement as it foreshadows the must-have hues in home decor, fashion, beauty, and automobile trends. In 2019, it was Living Coral. In 2018 it was a purply Ultra Violet; 2017 gave us Greenery and 2016 gave us two hues: Serenity — or sky blue — and Rose Quartz — a blush or millennial pink.

The cool thing about Classic Blue is that it has an everyday familiarity that other colors of the year just didn’t have. It’s not just the color of the Democratic Party. (No comment on whether Classic Blue is indicative of a coming blue wave.) It also figures strongly in the world of communication and marketing (Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn). Yogis will appreciate Classic Blue as the color associated with the throat chakra, or speaking one’s truth. Like a Ralph Lauren blazer, Classic Blue is dependable, it’s resilient. It’s always with us.

This year, Eiseman and Pantone partnered with tech and lifestyle companies to create experiences designed for us to engage all of our senses in the Classic Blue experience.

According to Audio UX and Landr, Classic Blue sounds like strings in a futuristic symphony or an airy drum beat.

Pantone paired with Swiss fragrance and flavor company Firmenich to create the color’s scent and taste. If mixed in a drink, Classic Blue would be gentle and elegant. Think blueberry gin cocktail colored with Curaçao. And it would smell salty and airy like ocean water, or even, perhaps, taffy. And, Eiseman said, Classic Blue would feel like plush velvet.

“By taking a multisensory approach, we wanted people to have an emotional connection," Eiseman said.