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The McClean Color Report: Pantone’s Top 10 Fall 2018 Colors At Work

Notice the brighter spring-like hues for fall this year?  Pantone’s top ten fall fashion colors reflect our global psyche by including nontraditional fall color choices such as lavender and light yellow which transcend the seasons and are gender neutral:

In the universal spirit of transcendance, American women have signed up in surprising numbers to run for offices at every level of government in every corner of the country for November’s midterm elections, according to The Story Exchange. “Just by being there (women) start to challenge our expectations of who can and should run for office,” says, Dr. Dittmar in this New York Times article. “And in the ways that they’re running for office this year, women are also challenging the prevailing rules of the game that have long been associated with an advantage for men and masculinity.”

Pantone Color Institute’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman noted the suffragettes used color as a sign of solidarity years ago, and all three of their choices — white, purple and green — appear in pantone’s fall colors.

At the Grammy’s earlier this year, female musicians carried white roses and actresses at the Golden Globes stood together in black gowns, in solidarity of the #metoo movement. In light of this, Eisman said, “The whole idea of the psychology of color has really come more into the mainstream. It’s made people more thoughtful about color, and how it can represent your emotions or feelings of perhaps wanting to belong to a particular group.” source

In fashion, designers and consumers are moving away from cyclical trends in favor of more self-expressive, nontraditional choices, according to  Eiseman. Source

Other factors like sustainability, conscientious consumption, the wellness movement, the continued food industry boom and ath-leisure’s dominance are also in play, Eiseman said , “We’re being more experimental because so much of it is new. There is this fascination that people will try the newness because it’s good for you. It’s good for the planet. It’s good for us.” source

This global fascination with newness creates space for women to express greater individual style at work locally. Workplaces are increasingly more casual in Washington, D.C. too. The more casual the dress code, the more room for color play.

Of course, with freedom comes responsibility.

Showing up on trend, yet appropriate for the courtroom, boardroom, or a luncheon shows you are on top of your game in our rapidly changing world. But, interpreting what colors to wear, and when, can be tricky in business.

Here are a few ideas to help you update your fall wardrobe with color powerfully:

First, No rules

There really are no set rules. In the spirit of transcendence, you can absolutely mix and match fall 2018 colors unexpectedly, in any way you choose, to create a signature look or style. Pantone meant the top 10 fall colors (shown above) to be impactful enough to stand on their own too.

What I’ve done for you in this report is considered possible colors and combinations to place you in the most professional, yet stylish updated light as a powerful woman and in charge.

Color For Everyday Fall Office Style

There is much room for play in many women’s day to day office style. Here’s a simple method to use Pantone’s Top 10 Color Palette  and Classic Color Palette  when updating your fall wardrobe:



Each hue in the Classic Color Palette pairs perfectly with each of the hues in the Top 10 Color Palette (pictured above). Pick a few focus hues for the season, then mix and match.

Use Pantone’s Classic Color Palette for basics: jackets, suits, and pants.  The classic colors anchor your look immediately with little effort. Then, use Pantone’s Top Ten Color Palette for your blouses shells, and accessories. Simple.

The brighter the shade the smaller the amount, rather than scratch a color idea all together. If a shade seems too bright, but you want to wear it, invest in a belt, earring, or necklace. A little pop of color goes a very long way to setting you apart as someone approaches challenges innovatively in business.

Fall Power Colors

For powerful situations such as serious presentation topics, job interviews, critical meetings, Red Pear, Valiant Poppy, Nebulas Blue, Quetzal Green, and Sargasso Sea are good fashion forward choices this fall.

Stick to one color along with a neutral for the most streamlined power looks.

Fall Colors For Business Meetings and Lunches

For business meetings and lunch meetings where you want to appear updated yet possessing appropriate gravitas, try Sargasso Sea paired with Crocus Petal to convey your trustworthiness, Nebulas Blue if the message you want to send is one of goodwill. Meerkat layered over black for a power look or white for a softer look, projects warmth and sensuality,

Red Pear and Valiant poppy give a warm vibe full of vitality – try them separately or together.

Neutral Looks

Love neutrals? Here’s a tip for you: all the classic colors coordinate, yet when paired together, they can pop unexpectedly for an instantly fresh image.

Try Meerkat and Quiet Grey, or Sagrasso Sea, Tofu, and Meerkat in your fall work look updates. Or try your own combinations. You really can’t go wrong combining Pantone’s classic colors this season.

Color Combos for Creative work style:

Some work worthy combinations for the fashion conscious: Tofu top and Meerkat bottom, Crocus Petal top and Quetzal Green bottom (try black and gold accents), Red Pear top with Valiant Poppy bottom, and Ceylon Yellow dress with Red Pear jacket.

For a surprising, yet polished fashion combination: try pairing Crocus Petal with deep brown, for a more powerful look, or Crocus Petal with Camel for a sophisticated non-threatening professional look.


Expressing yourself and your personal brand in our saturated world is critical. I encourage you to take a risk and stand out with your style, as an extension of your personal brand keeping in mind your career aspirations. A good rule of thumb is dress for the job you want.

Vary the extreme of color play in your looks, from minimal to bold, depending on your workday.

Opt for minimal color play for high power days – pick one color and stick to darker shades for the majority of your look. Wear bold color paired with lighter neutrals for informal business casual style. Create a neutral color palette when the occasion calls for a conservative, polished business look.

Hope this report is helpful to move your vision for yourself forward – whatever that may mean for you this fall.



P.S. What are your favorite work worthy color combos? Let us know so we can try them too.


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