The meaning of the color Off White and color combinations to inspire your next design.
Off white is an umbrella term for a variety of shades that differ only slightly from pure white. These include cream, eggshell, ivory and vanilla.
Because of this, off white does not have its own hex code. Off white shades that do feature on the hex color chart used by web designers and developers include Ivory (#FFFFF0), Whitesmoke (#F5F5F5) and Snow (#FFFAFA).
So is off white a color? Well, sort of. It’s better thought of as a way of describing any variation on white rather than a specific shade.
Off white paint colors can be difficult to mix at home. But as off white shades are often slightly yellow, you might try adding a very small amount of yellow or even brown paint to a white base. Don’t be tempted to add black to darken the hue—this will create grey paint.
White was one of the first recorded colors ever used in art, with Paleolithic artists using white chalk and calcite in cave paintings during the Stone Age.
Since then, white has featured prominently throughout history and has often been associated with people of high status. Priests and priestesses in ancient Egypt wore white as a symbol of purity, while Romans wore white togas as a marker of citizenship. White is also an important color for major world religions—the Pope has worn white since 1566 and the color is also worn by pilgrims in Islam. White is also the traditional color of wedding dresses.
Off white shades have a similarly long history and have often been used interchangeably with pure white. But some color names for off white shades are older than others—for instance, the first recorded use of “ivory” as a color name was in 1385, but the first recorded use of “vanilla” as a color name wasn’t until 1925.
Off-White is also the name of a high-end fashion label from designer Virgil Abloh.
Throughout history, white has been the color of purity. Off white shades are likely to conjure similar associations, though perhaps less so than pure white.
Its link with religion means white can symbolize goodness, spirituality and sacredness. White is also often associated with innocence—for instance, a “white lie” is one considered to be harmless.
White also denotes new beginnings or a fresh start. In Christianity, children wear white for their baptism and first communion. In high society, debutantes wear white to their first ball. It’s also associated with cleanliness, which is why items that are expected to be clean, such as toilets, sinks or bed sheets, are traditionally white.
White is also the color of peace. The white dove is a symbol of peace, while a white flag has long been used to represent surrender. In color psychology, white is thought to bring calmness, comfort and hope.
Off white shades can be a great choice when you want to a neutral tone that is less intense or less sterile than pure white. For this reason, off whites are commonly used in house paint and interior design—walls painted bright white would be garish or even blinding to look at.
In branding, white is used to convey cleanliness, safety and purity. Off whites usually evoke the same feelings, but with the added warmth of yellow.
Off whites are neutral and go well with most colors. Cream works particularly well with pastels, while ivory can make a great companion to navy blue or maroon. Off whites paired with blues can create a nautical palette. However, off whites used alongside pure white can appear dirty—avoid this combination. The colors that pair well with off white include:
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