It’s finally time.
For years, Instagram-aesthetic bedrooms have begged to swaddle us in white linen sheets (and we haven't said no, BTW). Then, along came all of the millennial pink, creams, and other peak-2017 pastels—inoffensive and soothing, and intentionally bland. In March 2020, Molly Fischer wrote a manifesto-level breakdown of the millennial pink et. al aesthetic, called, “The Tyranny of Terrazzo: Will the millennial aesthetic ever end?”, noting that the predominant millennial color palette of whites and pinks "faintly suggests a medicine cabinet."
But only one color has had the power to dethrone them all: mustard.
First emerging as a hot-shot candidate for "comeback color of the year" in 2019, the chipper yellow that’s taken a dirt bath under the sun has become omnipresent. Mustard bedding has galloped forth like a wild pony, popping up in countless Instagram decor feeds everywhere:
Turmeric 100% Flax Linen Fitted Sheet, starting at $80 at Bed Threads
When did everyone start dreaming of falling asleep in an egg yolk? The rise of this deep, earthy yellow has especially exploded in the past two or so years, and was preceded by the rise of “Gen Z yellow”; think, a shade that reads more DHL than Ochre-caves-of-Lascaux, and one best understood as a moment on a cultural timeline, rather than an autonomous force.
Brushed Cotton Sheet Set, $149 at Parachute
Millennial pink held our hands through the early anti-Trump years (albeit, sometimes via the cringe, non-inclusive pussy hats or elitism of The Wing). Fischer explains that this pink is a color that “functions more like a CBD seltzer," positing that it swooped in years ago on the problematic nostalgia of that good ‘ol, repressive feminine 1950s and 80s shade of hot pink, reimagining it in a form more diluted and digestible. But Gen Z yellow came for millennial pink when it began overstaying its welcome as early as 2017. The shift has been underlined by everyone from runway collections to paint companies trend forecasters like Dunne Edwards, who declared it as both a competing and complementary shade for pink:
Mustard carries all the optimism of bright, primary Gen Z yellow, but with a more grounded and earthy energy, making it feel like more of an underdog. It’s evocative of horny 1970s A-frame interiors, or a late-afternoon drive up California’s 101 highway in the summer. Zoomers and millennials alike were quick to adopt mustard, the latter of which have professed their love for the color on TikTok, with one user stating, “I am nearly 30, and now mustards are my life”:
And another offering a parody of a stereotypical Film Photography Girl™, who’s “really into mustard yellows [because] it’s such an underutilized color”:
In yet another think piece on the shade, The Paris Review asks us to consider Peter Buttigeig’s 2020 presidential mustard campaign landing page, or as Buttigeig called it, a shade of “heartland yellow.” And now, it’s hit Urban Outfitters home section—which is when you know a trend has reached the top of its climb, and start wondering what the fat cats are trying to send the cop-punching, wiggle-candle-bending, DIY-minded Gen Zers next:
Cozy Slub Duvet Cover, $84 at Urban Outfitters
It's become a pseudo-neutral, making it a natural integration for millennials' obsession with sleep products. So it makes sense that beyond bed sheets, you can even get a golden mustard cover for your weighted blanket:
5 STARS UNITED Weighted Blanket Cover, $27.99 at Amazon
An Instagram-perfect bedroom has become a major commodity; one can immediately envision a fiddle fig in a corner by a Cold Picnic rug, and a foam mirror beside some HAY trays (all filled with Mejuri jewelry). A minimalist line drawing probably hangs above the Kacey Musgraves Boy Smells candle, so that when our Girl Boss butt comes home from dinner in Nolita, we can set the mood for a big Meg Ryan couch flop onto our Article furniture before swiping on Tinder (only, in this cursed version of Harry Met Sally, Billy Crystal’s chunky knit is Lisa Says Gah) and pouring ourselves a glass of natural wine. We know this person, or we may feel that we've been this person sometime over the course of the past five years. As Fischer notes about the millennial aesthetic, "There’s not a lot of distinctive taste, but still, it’s hard to resist when you’re on a permanent search for ways to feel better," noting that its namesake pink is most suitable for "someone who is always performing, always watching themselves be watched."
Mustard yellow, however, has not historically been as hung-up on such toxic American Exceptionalism. In one study on the psychological effects of color, one team found that yellow can help in “facilitating positive judgments” and “better alertness” as a color of grassroots energy, optimism, and action. In that light, mustard feels especially destined for our homes—and, most intimately, our bedrooms. It’s a massive vibe upgrade from the clinical white sheets our generation has clung to for years.
A shared color theme also offers disoriented millennials and Gen Zers a sense of community. As one marketing article advised recently, brands’ “real offering to Gen Z is community [...] Especially as social distancing becomes the norm amid the spread of COVID-19, the threat of an isolation crisis is real. There's never been a more important time to prioritize community, especially if it's one that's built through a screen [...] Gen Z is [also] three times more likely than older generations to say the role of business is to ‘serve communities and society’” according to recent studies.
Mustard, is quite simply, is for the people.
Linen Storm Mustard Duvet Cover, starting at $162 at Etsy
It’s the perfect bridge between the millennial obsession with comfort, and Gen Z’s penchant for brighter, earthier modes of expression. Plus, another recent lighting study by Electrical Direct, research showed that a brown, mustard glow was the color most often used in sex scenes in movies (that deep yellow now serving as a key component of the appeal of those viral sunset lamps). When it comes to bedding, amber, as the 311 prophets predicted, is it. What better color to cuddle up in?
Yellow Jersey Knit Sheet, $135 at The Company Store
TY for attending this cooked bedsheet symposium. Happy slumbers, mustard brethren.
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