8 Cutting-Edge Color Trends for 2023: From Prom Queen to Dark Academia

Want to know the coolest colors of the coming year? From Prom Queen and Dark Academia to the Pantone Color of the Year, here are the top color trends for 2023. 

Color Trends 2023
Portrait for Kelsie RimmerBy Kelsie Rimmer  |  Updated May 11, 2023

Color can be an extremely powerful design tool. A solid understanding of color and how it works can help designers elevate the visual experience – from evoking an emotional response and creating an atmosphere to conveying tone and influencing messaging. Colors can significantly impact graphic design trends, aesthetics, mood, and consumer behavior.

While the color trends of the past few years have been subtle, muted, and subdued, in 2023, we’re expecting bold, optimistic palettes, bright, nostalgic hues, and deep, contemplative color schemes.

The color trends for 2023 will juxtapose light and shade. Optimistic outlooks will be reflected in the bright, bubbly tones reminiscent of the 2000s, such as Barbie Pink and Digital Lavendar, which encourage limitless creativity and self-expression. On the other hand, dark and moody hues such as vintage oak and forest green will keep us grounded with their brooding intensity and down-to-earth realism. 

Ready to find out the trendiest colors of the coming year? From Prom Queen to Dark Academia, here are the top color trends to look out for in 2023. 

1. Seeing Red

Red is rising, taking over fashion runways, and surging in celebrity styling throughout 2022. Worn by stars including Rihanna, Sophie Turner, and Bella Hadid and featured in Autumn/Winter collections by Alaïa, Versace, and Max Mara, the color red is associated with extreme emotion and heightened states such as power, passion, danger, and courage.

These connotations are clear in Dior’s Fall 22 Ready-to-Wear campaign, in which models pose in the style of historic female artworks against a rich red backdrop – giving a sense of strength and empowerment. 

Dior's Fall 22 Ready-to-Wear campaign

Whether used as an accent or block color to make a bold statement, trend-makers see red. Coloro points to Luscious Red, while Pantone’s attention-seeking Cherry Red has been named one of 2023’s most striking shades.

Use red as a bold background for web pages, YouTube banners, and social media posts – like these wave designs and Abstract Backgrounds by devotchkah. Or, make your statements stand out with this Photoshop poster template from Envato Creator sagesmask.

2. New Freedom

Next up, we’ve got a selection of vivid and vibrant hues that ooze playful positivity. As the world emerges from the pandemic, graphic designers, artists, and illustrators are exploring newfound freedom through bright, bold shades and color combinations – like Pantone’s zesty Love Bird and Tangelo pairing.

The New Freedom trend is about using color to encourage exploration and experimentation, and, as a result, it’s found a natural home in Pinterest’s new app, Shuffles. The app invites users to create crafty cutout collages and bring them to life with animation and effects. The user interface bustles with fuchsia pink, rich purple, and minty green – demonstrating that it’s all about pushing creative boundaries on Shuffles. 

If you want to saturate your designs with color, check out this Liquid Lilac Purple Abstract Background by Ruslana resembling acrylic paint or these citrus-inspired Orange Fashion Instagram Templates. Simply add images and text to ensure every post packs a punch.

3. Prom Queen

Are you feeling pretty in pink? Then grab your tiara because the Prom Queen aesthetic is in once again. With Barbie set to drive her Cadillac onto our screens in the much-anticipated live-action Barbie Movie, it’s no wonder that pink is popping up everywhere.

This trend also taps into the Y2K resurgence, which sees sickly sweet shades of pink, purple, and lilac take a noughties twist. For example, this Instagram Set by graphicapital features bright, colorful pixel art and a fluffy throwback to the turn of the century. 

If you’re nostalgic for rollerblades and bumbags, recreate the Barbie aesthetic with our round-up of our best plastic-fantastic Envato assets. You’ll find everything you need to bring your dollhouse dreams to life, from photos to fonts. 

4. Time to Celebrate

We’ve already talked about colors representing fun and freedom, and this next trend revolves around celebration. That’s right – from baptisms to birthdays – events are back on the agenda!

As a result, designers have begun exploring pastel palettes and shades usually reserved for special occasions – as seen at Acne’s Spring Summer 2023 fashion show. The event saw audiences sitting on oversized beds draped with pink satin sheets surrounded by pearlescent shell-encrusted candelabras while models in formal wear walked among them. The brand referred to the event as a ‘wedding party with a twist.’ 

To join in the celebrations, try this vintage-inspired Wedding Invitation template featuring delicate flora and foliage. Or for photographers, these Adobe Lightroom presets will guarantee wedding day perfection.

5. Life’s a Beach

Diesel campaign

If you’re looking for a visual vacation, this next color trend is for you. The past few years have left us hungry for a holiday – and we can almost feel the waves lapping at our feet with shades like Coloro’s Lapis Lazuli Blue, Pantone’s Blazing Sun, and Dulux’s Golden Sands. 

From white parasols to sunglasses salesman, this campaign from fashion brand Diesel turns up the heat on the beachside aesthetic – and we expect to see sun, sea, and sand shades extending rays of warmth well into 2023. 

Make your mark with a sand-themed Photoshop Action featuring washed-up shell and starfish details to add to the desert island appeal. 

6. Dark Academia

Knives Out movie cast

Thanks to Dark Academia, learning never looked so good. With an emphasis on reading, writing, and other intellectual pursuits, this TikTok subculture gets its kicks from vintage books, knitted cardigans, and tweed pants. 

Making old-school studies and dusty libraries look ultra-chic, we saw this trend on-screen in the murder-mystery movie Knives Out. The film’s characters are dressed in a spectrum of dark hues such as mahogany brown, forest green, and midnight blue, complemented by lighter gold, olive, and orange tones. 

The Secret History Character Designs by Yaroslava Murashko

For an illustrated take on this moody aesthetic, check out these atmospheric comic-book strips from Yaroslava Murashko. In The Secret History Character Designs, preppy characters from Donna Tartt’s classic collegiate novel read Homer and comment on each other’s Gucci boots. 

These 25 Lightroom Presets with dark tones will create an atmosphere of studious sophistication, complete with warm colors to give a vintage look

7. Lady Liberty 

Lady Liberty 

Gazing out over New York Harbor, The Statue of Liberty is almost 140 years old – but that doesn’t mean the neoclassical sculpture is excluded from today’s design agenda. That’s right, Lady Liberty’s iconic greenish tinge – verdigris – is a crucial trend for 2023, according to WGSN and Coloro. The 93-meter-tall figure is covered in copper, which oxidizes when exposed to air and salt water, resulting in the visually stunning blue-green-grey color that’s catching everyone’s eye right now. 

If you hold a torch for the tone, take advantage of it in your design work this coming year. For example, this inky Abstract Background contains the subtly shifting shades that make verdigris versatile. 

8. Pantone Color of the Year 2023: Viva Magenta

The Pantone Color of the Year for 2023 – Viva Magenta – is a color “vibrating with vim and vigor,” – which is precisely what we need as we move into the new year. 

While there was an inkling that 2023’s Color of the Year would be pink, Viva Magenta isn’t a Barbie pink as some predicted, nor millennial, Valentino, or pastel pink. It’s a blush – or “nuanced crimson” – described by the brand as “an unconventional red for an unconventional time.” It introduces the world to what Pantone defines as “The Magentaverse,” a nod to Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse and a color that straddles digital and physical environments.

Viva Magenta - Pantone Color of the Year 2023

“PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta writes a new narrative,” said the Pantone Institute. “Brave and fearless, a pulsating color whose exuberance promotes optimism and joy. Powerful and empowering, it is an animated red that encourages experimentation and self-expression without restraint, an electrifying, boundaryless shade that is manifestly “out there” and is a stand-out statement. Audacious, witty, and inclusive of all, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta welcomes anyone and everyone with the same rebellious spirit.

A nuanced crimson red tone that presents a balance between warm and cool, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is also a hybrid color, one that comfortably straddles the physical and virtual, evocative of our multi-dimensional world. Assertive but not aggressive, it is a carmine red that does not boldly dominate but instead takes a “fist in a velvet glove” approach. Exuding dynamism, PANTONE 18-1750 Viva Magenta is a transformative red tone capable of driving design to create a more positive future.”

That does it for the color trends you’ll be seeing in 2023. While you’re here, check out our Branding Trends and Graphic Design Trends for 2023. Or, head to Envato Elements to start creating today!

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