Evolution of Marsala

“Even though the economy seems to be on the upswing, still there are those who are feeling insecure about significant world events, both politically and ecologically,” Eiseman said. “The Seventies were also a time when the public was emerging from a recession [in the early part of the decade]. There also was a growing interest in the preservation of nature. Utilizing earth tones gives people a sense of rootedness and grounding, similar to what people were feeling the need for in the Seventies.” -Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute Executive Director

I have read from multiple sources and blogs that Marsala first emerged as a trend in the 1970’s. Many people have rationalized that this trend came into play because of the earth-tones and the richness of the color. As it states in the quote above, the 70s, like now, was a time where people in the US were emerging from a recession. They didn’t have to be as frugal with their clothing choices and wanted to live in luxury. Marsala is a rich color that boasts elegance, richness and sophistication. Four decades later in 2015, we are in a similar place. People and the economy are recovering from the 2008 recession and people are sick of living on a dime. They are ready to wear bold, beautiful colors to show that they have bounced back from the recession. Here is a look at Marsala through the decades:



Here, in this add from the 1970s, you can see Marsala as an accent color. This color wasn’t worn widely as a statement piece, but as an accent on purses, shoes and other accessories. You can even see a thin accent of Marsala on the edges of the women’s dresses.



Here is a vintage dress from the 1980s available on Etsy. This dress most definitely makes a statement. It is all Marsala without any other colors on the dress. This shows that people were starting to wear Marsala more as a whole rather than just accents.



Here, Princess Diana stepped out on the red carpet wearing a velvet Marsala dress. Maybe this indicates that the trend was moving or close to moving into the mass acceptance stage of the fashion cycle since a fashion icon was seen wearing the trend.



This is one of Halle Berry’s most infamous red carpet looks. This trend has gone from being an accent, to making a statement, to doing both in the same dress. The bodice of Berry’s dress has Marsala accents, but the bottom is fully Marsala.


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Elizabeth Banks radiated in this Marsala dress earlier this year. This dress parallels to the dresses from the 80s and 90s because it definitely makes a statement as a full-blown Marsala dress. Maybe this shows that this trend is making its way to the acceptance stages again.

Current Status in Fashion Cycle


I believe that this trend is in the rise stage of the fashion cycle. Since this color is widely viewed as mainly a “fall/winter color” it is in the rise for the spring and summer. As we move into August and September, I think it will hit the Acceptance stages. The summer/spring months will be reserved for light, airy Marsala items such as eyeshadow, blush, flow blouses, fingernail polish, sunglasses and accessories. In the cooler months, Marsala will be seen in coats, furs, boots, scarves, bold lips, eyeliner, dresses and pants. This trend will be much more accepted in the fall and winter because of many people’s preconceived notions about when this color is worn.

Benefits of Marsala

There are MANY benefits to this trend! Here is a list of the benefits…

  1. Versatility– You can wear this trend any time, any place! From a marsala hat to marsala pants, it goes with everything!
  2. Year-Round Wear- This trend can be worn year round. I have seen it as a gown on the red carpet and as a fur jacket. It will take different forms throughout the year, but it is a year-round color!
  3. Not just clothes- Marsala isn’t just for apparel. It looks great as shoes, statement necklaces and even cosmetics.
  4. Interior Design- Although many fashion forecasters, bloggers and fashion websites weren’t too hyped about this color being chosen as the color of the year, many of the interior design blogs I read were super exited!
  5. Works with fabrics- This color looks good on lots of fabrics and textiles: leather, chiffon, lace, suede, polyester, etc.

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