The meaning of the color Pastel Yellow and color combinations to inspire your next design.
Pastel yellow is a pale shade of yellow. The pastel yellow hex code is #FDFD96.
The color pastel yellow is also sometimes referred to as “lemon”, however the two colors are considered different on the hex chart used by web designers and developers. On the hex chart, lemon yellow (#FFF44F) is a brighter shade of yellow, while the variant lemon chiffon (#FFFACD) is softer and closer in appearance to pastel yellow.
Yellow is a primary color, which means you can’t mix any two paint colors to create it. But to reach pastel yellow’s soft hue, simply mix a bit of yellow paint into a white base.
Pastel yellow takes its name from the art medium of pastels, a powdered pigment that typically creates soft, low saturation hues. The word “pastel” was first used in 1662, while pastels as a medium became popular with artists in the 18th century.
Pastels were a popular color palette during the 18th century and were common to interior design and fashion in the 1950s. They also enjoyed a resurgence in the 1980s thanks to TV shows like Miami Vice, which featured the muted hues extensively.
The color yellow has an even longer history. Yellow ochre pigment was one of the first colors used in cave paintings during the Stone Age, while the color name “yellow” was first used in the year AD700. In Ancient Egypt, the hue was treasured for its likeness to the color of gold.
However in the modern era, yellow is not a particularly popular color—a survey in the year 2000 found only six percent of respondents in North America and Europe named it their favorite color, compared to 45 percent for blue.
Pastel yellow is a gentle color likely to be considered soft and delicate. Pastel shades often appear feminine and romantic, but pastel yellow could be considered gender neutral—it’s the color well-wishers buy baby clothes in when the child’s sex is not yet known.
While its association with the 1950s could make pastel yellow appear old fashioned, the hue has been used in hip, contemporary contexts—for instance, the director Wes Anderson is known for using pastel palettes in his films.
Yellow is the color of sunshine and flowers, both associations likely to be extended to pastel yellow. In color psychology, yellow is thought to be uplifting and encourage optimism. Too much yellow, however, can cause aggression or frustration—but pastel yellow’s muted hue is less likely to inspire that reaction.
Pastel yellow is a great alternative to brighter shades of yellow, which can be too blinding when used in large amounts.
Because it is a very pale color, pastel yellow can be difficult to read and therefore isn’t suited to use as a text color. Instead, you might use a splash of the hue to subtly brighten a design or inject color when stronger hues like red or orange would be overwhelming.
Pastel yellow is less common in fashion, as it is sometimes considered an unflattering hue.
Pastel yellow can work with a number of colors. It looks dreamy and romantic alongside other pastel hues, particularly pink or purple shades like lilac, rose and periwinkle. It works well with a soft blue, which is its complementary color on the color wheel. It forms a fruity, citrus theme alongside shades of orange, looks fresh next to a crisp white and pops next to black. The colors that pair well with pastel yellow include:
Looking for a different hue? The following colors are related to pastel yellow.
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