A December Tradition

Is there any month more steeped in tradition than December?  I think not.  It is important to remember that traditions, according to Webster, are “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice,” and therefore, they help to define our lives.  Suspending tradition goes contrary to our desires and our goals and our self-expression.  

I suspect most of you are having to suspend some of your December/Holiday/Christmas traditions this year, as am I.  So I was pleased to see that Pantone has once again continued their tradition of introducing the Color of the Year for the year to come, 2021.  In a vote of confidence – and perhaps because we need to be thinking expansively in the year to come – their color of the year is actually two colors, Ultimate Gray (PANTONE 17-5104) and Illuminating (PANTONE 13-0647), a vibrant yellow.  This gray is “emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.”  “Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power.”  

Here is a very “illuminating” yellow silk taffeta jacket I made back in 2016.
And an “ultimate” soft gray cashmere coat, also made in 2016.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, talks about this color combination:  “ The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude.  Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives resilience and hope.  We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.”  

As one who loves both yellow and gray, and as one who has sewn with both colors over the years, as detailed above, this choice sent me to my pattern collection, where I quickly found examples of gray and yellow pattern art from years past.  Here are two:

I also went to Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion to read, once again, his take on gray and yellow.  

Some of the language and expressions in this little book seem a bit old-fashioned, but it contains a wealth of information and advice.

About Gray:  “The most convenient, useful and elegant neutral color.  ….There is nothing more elegant than a wonderful, gray satin evening dress.  For day frocks, suits and coats it is ideal.  I would always advise it.”  Page 50.  That is quite an endorsement for gray.

About Yellow:  “The color of youth and of the sun, and of good weather.  A beautiful color for frocks and also for accessories and right for any time of the year.  …There is a shade of yellow for everyone – but you have to take the trouble to find it.”  Page 124.  

Cheerfulness, elegance, optimism, fortitude – these are worthy goals to set for living in the months to come – and for sewing – whether or not we blend the colors of gray and yellow into them.  Right now, however, with the enduring promise which defines December, I am focused on the colors of the season, red and green, and of keeping what we can of beloved traditions – knowing that, like finding that perfect yellow, we have to take the trouble to make this holiday season glow and sparkle in its own way. 

I wish all of you, my readers, a warm, happy and even MERRY, Christmas and holiday!

From my house to your house, Merry Christmas! (Cavallini & Co. vintage-inspired tag)


Filed under Christian Dior, Coats, Pantone Color of the Year, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s

18 responses to “A December Tradition

  1. chris v johnson

    Love everything about this posting! Now, I just need to find that elusive yellow that will work with my skin tone.

  2. That will be me, hunting for the right yellow…haven’t found it yet, but I’m guessing it is a light icy lemon, haven’t seen it in years! Now gray….I have some lovely gray and lavender wool calling my name! Christmas blessings to you Karen!

  3. Lovely jacket and coat!
    The gray is a very nice soft color, and one that I can wear as a “Winter” with light golden skin and black hair.

    While the golden yellow may be Pantone’s bright color for 2021, it was also the (untraditional) color of moire satin that I chose for my three bridesmaids in 1988! I chose it to highlight the yellow throats of (enormous) blue iris bouquets and sewed their “tea length” dresses! Amazingly successful, particularly because the women all lived around the world and I took measurements once. A blonde, a redhead, and my maid of honor with olive skin and dark brown hair… Somehow, I no longer have the chutzpah I had when I was 27!

  4. Dawn

    Your post is inspiring as always. Thank you and Merry Christmas and a beautiful new year to you!

  5. I’m printing this post and putting it in the Christmas tree for me to ‘discover’ and re-read on Christmas Day! Maybe I’ll start a new tradition! (DH might roll his eyes/might just understand!) Thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful posts! Many blessings to you and much love, xoNancy

  6. Christine Taylor

    Another enjoyable read. I like the colours, the yellow is gorgeous and grey goes with pretty much any other colour. I love the Guy Laroche pattern and have started a search for it and the coat would fit nicely into my wardrobe. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020 – to be honest that won’t be difficult, we are back in lockdown in the SE of England.

    Christine Taylor

    > WordPress.com

  7. Love the little bits of from the Dior book on fashion!

  8. Thanks so much for this. I think that grey is one of the most flattering colours for women of a certain age (like me), so I’ll be adding more to my wardrobe this year to replace the unrelenting black! Yellow? Not on me! Happy new year!

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