Green are the pastures of a popular color

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The color green is a serious multitasker. It speaks for St. Patrick's Day and blooming spring, tranquility and jealousy, healthy food and greed -- all at once.

Long-ago brides preferred it for their gowns, but some women's magazines hated it for their covers. George Washington loved it and champions of Earth claimed it as their own.

It's Shakespeare's salad days and Kermit the frog. It's the room for guests of Leno and Letterman. In 2007, it was the real color of the red carpet at the Grammy Awards.

Does green ever go out of style? Tommy Hilfiger, who's known for his keen color sense, doesn't think so.

"Green is quintessential preppy with a pop," he says. "It's a familiar favorite that everyone loves to wear. And right now with the military trend, green is popping up more than ever."

As winter wanes, let's consider green:

Wedding gowns

Green, along with color in general, is creeping back into style for brides. There was no white for weddings in medieval times, when darker hues like earthy green were the norm. Queen Victoria popularized white when she wore a special gown to her wedding in 1840, says Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Brides magazine. Before that, brides dressed in their Sunday best, usually darker tones that could be worn several times before cleaning.

"Any dark color would do, but the idea of wearing green for a wedding may have come from a famous Jan Van Eyck painting, `The Arnolfini Portrait,"' Bratten says. The painting is believed by some historians to feature a prominent Italian merchant and his bride in an opulent green dress.

Vera Wang's 2010 spring collection featured wedding gowns of color, including one in green. "White dresses may be the norm today, but color is still an option for many brides," says Bratten.

St. Patrick's Day

Originally a Roman Catholic holy day, the death date of the saint (March 17) turned slowly into parades, early morning bar hops and general drunken revelry on the Emerald Isle of Ireland, the only country with a national (and green-frocked) fairy.

Blue, in fact, has deeper official roots in Ireland as the color of soccer uniforms for Dublin County and on the old Irish crest. St. Patrick even has his own shade of blue. The wearing of the green can be traced to three-leaf clovers Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity to initiates, encouraging them to wear their shamrocks.

"I can't help but wonder if green beer comes from a pub owner trying to make blue beer," Smith says. "Blue food coloring with yellow beer and you've got it."

AP Bureau Chief Donna Abu-Nasr in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, contributed to this report.

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