Move Over, Millennial Pink — There’s a New Sheriff in Town

For months, maybe years now, scrolling through Instagram has felt like taking a stroll through the inside of a mouth. Pink walls, pink books, pink lights, pink coats. Pink pink pink pink pink. I have no right to complain: When I read The Cut’s ground-breaking exposé on this color trend, I did so while perched atop my dusty rose duvet cover, taking pauses only to look around my room: baby pink desk chair, dark pink throw pillow, candy pink baseball hat.

“By the time everyone started calling it Millennial Pink in the summer of 2016,” wrote Lauren Schwartzberg, “the color had mutated and expanded to include a range of shades from beige with just a touch of blush to a peach-salmon hybrid.”

If I squint and scroll through my feeds, it’s still a rose-colored blur, but when I slow down and take a closer look, flashes of something else, something sunnier, betray a changing of the generational tides.

I call it Gen-Z Yellow.

It was only a matter of time. The paradox which made pink so appealing — that a color with “girly-girl baggage” could be re-imagined as a symbol of feminism and resistance — has been all but usurped by its own ubiquity. Where’s the fun in predictability? Yellow, by contrast, offers a bright, sobering respite from the barrage of over-saccharine bubblegum.

Just like millennial pink, Gen-Z Yellow is not one particular shade, but rather several shades, from buttercream to melted butter and beyond. Just like millennial pink, it’s finding its sea legs by way of the young and the hip, which can only mean one thing: By 2018, the entire internet will probably look like the inside of a banana.

coming soon

A post shared by Kaia (@kaiagerber) on

Or like it’s trapped inside a bottle of French’s:

Or wrapped in caution tape:


A post shared by Zendaya (@zendaya) on

Or dunked in a bowl of split pea soup:

My theory vis-a-vis Gen-Z Yellow has been stewing for a while, but the contours of it came into sharper focus when I noticed artist Petra Collins — one of the earliest propagators of millennial pink — started using yellow-y light in her shoots instead of the pale pink glow she’d become famous for.

@saraoliverwight 💚🌈🌹

A post shared by Petra Collins (@petrafcollins) on

⭐️ @chancetherapper ⭐️

A post shared by Petra Collins (@petrafcollins) on

And then, of course, there was the entire “Fetish” music video Collins shot for Selena Gomez, which features Selena in various yellow dresses and is generally very yellow. I’ve watched it no less than five times, start to finish, because I can’t get enough of the 1950s lemon meringue aesthetic.

Gen-Z Yellow is the natural evolution of millennial pink. It maintains that pleasing-to-the-eye softness of the sweetest shades of millennial pink, but without the over-played infantilization. It’s both nostalgic and modern. It has zest, energy, optimism. It’s frequently unflattering, which works nicely in 2017, ironically speaking, and it pairs well with impractical shoes and weird sunglasses. It hits the perfect 2017 note of both trying and caring, but seemingly only for your own agenda.

“Millie Bobby Brown Was the Coolest Teen at the Teen Choice Awards,” pronounced Vanity Fair yesterday, of Brown’s red carpet look this past Saturday: Her yellow Kenzo dress and tiny amber-tinted Chrome Hearts sunglasses were indeed cool, possibly the best, and definitely the ultimate manifestation of Gen-Z Yellow.

As Harling pointed out in June, yellow was the color of the Spring/Summer 17 runways, too. Maybe we’re all just sheep, our proclivities swaying in the cross-breeze between designers and influencers, but this feels bigger than the typically-ephemeral lifecycle of a runway trend. We’re not just going to be buying yellow coats, we’re going to be buying yellow couches and opening yellow coffee shops. Gen-Z knows these things.

Collage by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Abby

    Anyone know where that dress on Rowan Blanchard is from? It’s absolute perfection. I already know its out of my budget but a girl can dream…

    • Alejandra Pintos Anelo

      Coach! Love it.

  • bb

    we’re not gen z we’re gen x

    • Hayley

      For Gen-Z (according to Wikipedia): demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. Gen-X, on the other hand (again, according to Wikipedia): demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years ranging from the early-to-mid 1960s and ending birth years ranging from the late 1970s to early 1980s.

      • Cristina

        Dang, that’s a pretty big gap! Omg. So I googled.. and that would put me in with the millennials then?! WTF. I feel an identity crisis coming on. I can’t be a 31 year old “millennial”

        • Haley Nahman

          Of course you’re a millennial at 31!!

          • Cristina

            Man. Maybe it’s the Z’ers that are taking over. Or millennials are acting younger? I dunno, but I feel muuuuch older than a millennial!

          • Hayley

            My husband is 35 and is also technically a millennial. He loathes this.

          • Haley Nahman


          • beckly

            That’s because as a millennial you were the youngest adult age group. Now you’re not. Now you have a history!

        • chouette

          All the people marketing to millenials seem to think we are juniors. Source: am millenial working at company trying to revamp to sell to millenials.

          • Cristina

            Lol! I’m a marketing director and just yesterday asked my younger manager “hey, what’s a meme that’s really cool right now?” bahahaha. I can’t keep up. I just can’t.

        • Danielle Cardona Graff

          Our generation was always called generation Y, and I feel like in recent years got lumped in with Millenials-who’m I always thought were just a few years younger. Makes sense since it’s still a pretty small age gap.

      • jiggahava

        I think there’s a generation Y there for the people born between 1980-86. I’m 35, and I think I’m too old too be a millenial, but too young to be Gen Xer. Gen Y is more accurate, but that wasn’t catchy enough to catch on for the internet.

        • Cristina

          I thought so too, then when looking it up, you’re right. Gen Y pretty much gets lumped in with millennial.

  • Hayley

    Now if only Millennial Pink and Gen-Z Yellow were flattering for my skin tone, I’d be in business.

    • Lorange E

      Same here! Looking forward to jewel tones in the stores in fall cuz this pastel stuff doesn’t work for me.

  • diane

    I just purchased the first (pale) yellow dress of my entire life. It’s like a little ray of sunshine in my closet!

  • DA

    HAHA love the last line “Gen-Z knows these things”. Totally feel like millennials are trending out as fast as millennial pink is. Logan Paul (cringe) has heralded the reign of the next generation. Are we….officially old?

  • Ah yes, the perpetual golden hour. Can’t wait 🙃

  • Let it out

    I”m sensing that you don’t like yellow.

  • Lise

    Hi, this is great but how are you going to do an entire post about the recent popularity of the color yellow and not once mention Beyonce’s Cavalli dress in the video for Hold Up??

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg I hadn’t seen the video. A true crime on my part.

      • Lise

        😲 it’s never too late for now! Might as well watch Lemonade all the way through a few times while we’re on the subject

        • prairie dogs

          Agreed! It’s always a good time for Lemonade.

          That dress definitely launched my desire for yellow stuff last summer.

    • Literally came here to comment the same damn thing.

      • phillyspice


    • Juliana Salazar


    • prairie dogs

      Just came down to ask this question as well!

  • Norwood
  • Dale Chong

    i so called this trend I can’t wait to see it more.

  • hello i’m 16 this has been a thing for like three years it came with the Art Hoe movement. however, i must admit that the amount of yellow kanken backpacks has Surged with this years’ freshmen class.

    • chouette

      hello i’m 29 and i’m going to need you to elaborate on “Art Hoe movement”

      • Haley Nahman


        • Ciccollina

          Oh my god I am so old, I literally have no idea what a terf, Barbara, terf is and I don’t know if you’re being ironic when you say Bad.

          • re: terf means trans-exlusionary radical female Barbara is just like “omg Becky what even” but I feel like babz is the more mature version. it was never Bad but it just became So oversaturated and I couldn’t escape it.

          • Ciccollina

            Ohhhh so interesting! Thanks you for explaining 🙂 I live in Germany and most of these terms don’t exist over here. I will try not to be a terf Barbara 😛

          • Danielle Cardona Graff

            lol yes same here

        • Maggie Urizar Avila

          lol the last sentence, I completely relate.

          • hey I made a four on that exam I regret nothing

        • Hayley

          Wait, also, I am 26 and have a teal Kanken backpack that I bought for airline travel… please tell me I do not fall into any of these groupings.

        • prairie dogs

          Wait I still am not getting the “art” connotation to this aesthetic? Like are these women fronting as artists? Though the Pinterest visual is helpful, thank you!

      • Samantha Tame Whittaker


      • Hayley

        Actually laughing so loudly at my desk right now.

      • Danielle Cardona Graff

        hello I’m 33. Same. WTF is the “Art Hoe Movement?”

    • Georgia

      hello sage 16 yr old what is the newest color trend for young folk (other than 3 yr old yellow)

  • Been searching for the perfect yellow tshirt and but I think its result of both this new trend AND the yellow Nike shirt that Haley was wearing in her style essay (because its perf)

  • Kiks

    I love love love yellow but I am 6’1 and always afraid I will look like Big Bird.

    • Ciccollina

      Perhaps just a top or a cool pair of trousers? Or some fab yellow shoes….? I love the word trousers, I’m so glad I got to use it today.

      • Kiks

        Yellow shoes. You are a genius.

        And yes, trousers is a fantastic word!

        • Ciccollina

          Glad to be of assistance 🙂

      • Hayley

        Trousers would be an excellent name for a cat.

        • Ciccollina

          I don’t even know what to say. This is so right.

          Ps, Hayley I recognise you from your previous comments and appreciate your cleverness and perfect head of hair. Kudos.

          • Hayley

            I appreciate you and I appreciate your appreciation.

    • Danielle Cardona Graff

      You can do it! Own it! (I’m 5’10” which isn’t 6’1″ but it’s still tall-and I say own your Amazonliness with pride and wear all the colors you want!) 🙂 I’ve been this size since I was about 11, no joke. It took making friends with a girl in high school who was taller than me, who had the balls at age 15 to wear the 5″ platforms of the time, (and who had a pretty sick shoe selection), to give me that confidence. Cut to 15 + years later, my closet is a rainbow of colors, patterns and textures. Sequins and animal prints are neutrals in my book, and fashion “rules” be damned.

    • I’m 5’9 and did a full suit of yellow, so you can too!

  • Daisy Tinker

    Lurve yellow but as someone with horribly pale (and not in that pale and interesting kinda way, in the sort of partially red and blotchy way) skin it’d be great for MR to do a feature on different yellows for different skin tones PERLEASE x

    • Hayley

      Yes, agreed. I fall into this camp too, and I find that all shades of yellow do not suit me, but would love to find a shade that does.

  • Allegra

    y’all are a little late tbh. this is more of a surge in a 3+ year thing. by the time forever 21 picks up on a trend, you know it’s over

  • hearceespeak

    Nooooooooooo. Yellow was the ONE thing I had that made me feel ~different~. Everyone, stick with your millennial pink. I’ll be over here with my yellow lemons & linens.

  • Anne McIsaac

    I’ve been practicing yellow since 2012 on my Instagram account @yellowillow. It’s always #yellowoclock somewhere in the world!!!