In a year which has seen us all experience enormous pressure, stress and tension, it’s unsurprising that colour has made its way back into our lives out of necessity. Our lives have been jarred by lockdowns, tiered restrictions and an overwhelming sense of confusion, anxiety and concern for our loved ones as we attempt to make sense of and deal with a globalised pandemic.
Equally, people are going the extra mile to be empathetic towards others, displaying a level of consideration and care for the people who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic, and they are doing it with rainbows and bright colour.
The pull towards bright colours has also manifested in the fashion of 2020
In an article by ‘The Guardian’, it was claimed that “optimism is the hottest commodity of 2020”, and I wholeheartedly agree. In spite of all the hardship that families in the UK and across the world have experienced this year as a result of the pandemic, I am in awe of mankind’s ability not only to shoulder the burden of stress in unprecedented times but to make it colourful.
When the pandemic is studied in years to come, students will be shown images of a rainbow, which became the symbol in the UK of our incredible NHS and the tireless efforts of staff to treat patients of the virus, and which can be found in bright crayon adorning the windows of businesses and family homes.
The pull towards bright colours has also manifested in the fashion of 2020. Not only have bold statement colours, like a strong bright blue or electric orange, found their way into our wardrobes, but people are also donning clashing patterns and an eclectic combination of trends from iconic decades. I’ve spotted zebra print flares with bold red jumpers on the Piazza just as often as mum jeans, pleather blazers, and ‘90s rainbow flares with slogan tees.
Social media can also be located at the source of this colour explosion
Young people are embracing bold styles and bright colours, and it shows. I think people are feeling the need to express themselves and find a release through fashion precisely because of the pandemic. You can’t just wait until Wednesday to wear a sparkly bralette at POP!, because we can’t actually go out at the moment.
In fact, I see the prevalence of colours in 2020 fashion not only as an outlet for self-expression, which has become even more important than ever, but as outright defiance in the face of a pandemic that has darkened the year and which has increased the strain of daily life.
Social media can also be located at the source of this colour explosion, as young people took to platforms like YouTube to dye their hair over lockdown. In particular, TikTok hair trends have manifested in an army of young people loudly and defiantly decorated, in a year which should have been anything but colourful.
For me, colour really does make an impact
The science behind colour psychology is interesting if we want to understand this colour revolution. It’s generally understood that yellow is a happy colour, but there may be more to it in an era where bright colours have come to represent our tenacity. People are gravitating towards colours that inspire positivity and optimism just as often as strength and courage, love and compassion.
The royal blues of 2020 are refreshing and energising in a social economy in which over two-thirds of employees are experiencing burnout as a result of working from home. Although it would be trivial to argue that wearing bright colours is the solution to the additional stress compounded by the societal adjustments that the pandemic has caused, it perhaps provides a small bit of comfort and happiness in otherwise dark times.
For me, colour really does make an impact. I’m especially known by my friends for my love for yellow – I pretty much own the same yellow-and-black outfit in about four different aesthetics, and it’s my go-to colour when I need a bit of self-confidence.
We’ll emerge from the other side stronger, and much more brightly coloured
Even before it was a trend this year, I’ve always been a fan of wearing bright, bold, statement colours to stand out from the crowd and boost my mood, and I’m 100% sure that feeling is now being shared by all my peers. Whether or not your coping mechanism for the pandemic is to don a yellow jacket to cheer you up on your way to the first in-person seminar you’ve had all week, the sense of community that has emerged from the colour trends of 2020 is palpable and welcome.
As a community, we’ve all felt a bit knocked down and helpless this year, and we still do, but we’ll emerge from the other side stronger, and much more brightly coloured.