Sage is suddenly everywhere. Décor wise, it entered the Pinterest 100 toward the end of 2017, and Southern Living declared it the new neutral. Last year, the dusty, almost genderless color with yellow and olive undertones found its way onto the runways, in both men’s and women’s presentations, and now, you’ll find it as a deeper, frothier take on seafoam on anything from T-shirts to full suits.
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So, what is it about sage green, and how should you try it out?
What is the color sage?
Pantone’s Sage and Sage Green lean toward the lighter end, frequently infused with touches of olive, muted yellow, and even grey. As a true middle-of-the-road shade, it’s neither dark nor bright, not quite a statement tone yet it shakes up all notions of what a “neutral” should be.
Beyond Pantone’s palette, more common variations go into aquamarine territory, appearing like a faded, almost yellow-turquoise with more emphasis on its green notes. Looking at it, it’s highly reminiscent of sea glass. You catch the bottle’s green hue; only, tumbling around in the salty ocean waves has turned it matte and semi-transparent.
Added to this concept, sage is a true transitional hue. You’ll spot notes of spring and summer, and its nature plainly grounds pinks and yellows. Yet, its earthier character pulls it into fall, offering a contrast against the season’s typical browns, greys, and navy.
Why is sage green so popular?
Some trends come out of nowhere, while for others, they arise out of the right conditions. Sage green falls mostly into the latter camp. An amalgamation of multiple long-standing trends, it offers the best of each one without feeling like an overt compromise.
One, its forest green-based hues build upon the military influences we’ve spotted over the past few years, with olive drab being a primary source. For this reason, it presents a softer side to multi-pocket utility coats and safari jackets, and creates a subtler allusion for bomber jackets. As such, while you notice the semblance, the reference doesn’t flog you over the head.
Secondly, menswear can’t seem to loosen its grip on greens. We’ve got to work them in somehow, yet they’ve never reached the staying power of blue or brown. Turquoise, emerald, olive, and forest green have come in, only to fade out or mutate into something else. Some feel extreme, and others too understated. Sage, at least for the present, lays out a more palatable middle ground.
As the third factor, we’ve noticed unisex fashion’s ascent. Although iterations frequently play it safe with hoodies and tees, it’s enough of a force that the CFDA created a separate category for it, and a visible percentage of this year’s LVMH Prize semi-finalists designed unisex collections.
Where does sage fit into all of this? Its softness implies a more feminine quality, but its depth hints at something more masculine and militaristic. Basically, it’s the best of both worlds.
How to Wear Sage Green
As menswear starts to embrace greens without considering them “novelty” shades, how should you approach sage?
To start, the color holds its own like any neutral. It compliments other base tones – think white, black, grey, and even navy – with a smoky, almost ethereal-woodland contrast.
On the other hand, it’s not restricted to this particular palette. It functions like a “nature” shade – hence, you can play it against other greens, it cools down yellows, and enhances the earthiness of browns, particularly deeper, chocolate-based tones, and beige.
As well, it creates a light, understated contrast to jewel tones, and can be treated nearly identically to olive – that is, it’s fairly muted but manages to work well with almost any color, save for bright red. Khaki, pink, and orange, in this case, aren’t off limits, and may create a surprising “Did he just pull that off?” pairing.
Compounding to all this, menswear designers started reworking green roughly three years ago. To be exact, it lost its pigeonholed appeal right when Burberry, Paul Smith, and Craig Green began adding it to suits, knits, and everything else in between. So, before you just dabble with accessories, consider the broader picture:
How to Wear Green Sweaters
It’s like looking at the Heath in England or thinking of a slouchy Lou Dalton sweater: No matter the style of knit, sage makes everything seem comfy and calmingly cool.
In this case, keep the shade solid – no extreme colorblocking – and layer it over a button-front shirt for a light contrast. For a highlight, consider a chunkier or wider knit for some texture.
How to Wear Green Shirts
Faded to saturated, sage has crafted a clear niche amongst your button-fronts. The color’s seemingly contradictory dusty boldness doesn’t quite feel dark, so it’s a clear match for your black or charcoal chinos, yet it gives off pastel vibes, so it’ll match that light pink pair you recently picked up.
Although sage adds a few variables to your smart-casual game, it’s wormed its way into more strictly casual fare, including T-shirts and overshirts. In fact, sage’s muted character precisely matches the material’s softer feel, especially if the fabric has been garment washed, faded, or distressed in some way.
As with your dressier pieces, how you pair it has few boundaries. Grey skinny jeans, yellow Bermuda shorts, and ripped white denim are just some of the possibilities.
How to Wear Green Pants
These days, we’re not just picking between navy, khaki, and black when it comes to dressing for work, and opting for jeans on our days off. You’ll come across nearly every color of the rainbow, including pastels and more earthier hues.
For a lighter touch that won’t show dirt like white jeans, sage balances depth and everyday camouflage with a more washed out patina. Seafoam-leaning hues may add a touch of brightness, no matter if you opt for strict chinos, chill out with linen, or go straight for denim.
How to Wear Green Outerwear
We’re getting utility and military vibes from this color, perhaps envisioning a field jacket, chore coat, or army surplus find that’s been worn somewhat. It’s not entirely crisp and exact – and it’s likely not meant to be that way.
There’s a certain washed out quality about it, as if you just dug up something from the past – or discovered it in your parents’ closet and have decided to rework it for the present.
Whether it’s as simple as a bomber or a multi-pocketed style, the color ends up smoothing out the jacket’s distant origins.
How to wear green suits
With linen, sage has “summer suit” written all over it. After all, as seen with pastel shades, light and faded pair precisely with breathable materials, especially once they have some texture.
Yet, it’s not off the table for the rest of the year. As we initially mentioned, it transitions to fall – so, perhaps, consider it for a slimmer-cut party suit paired with a black tee underneath – or work it into your office dress code in its darker, slightly faded form, ideally playing off a crisp white button-down for a hint of familiarity.