Olive Green

KHAMSA’s latest feature explores the symbolism of life’s colours.

Olive Green is a colour of nature, representing growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. It’s the colour many people resonate with in some way, shape, or form, as it is the most calming and relaxing colour to our eye. A person who wears green can be identified as calm and fresh, open to mental and physical growth. It can also represent wisdom, new beginnings and personal growth.

The first use of ‘olive green’ as a colour name in English was recorded in the early19th century. Its very first commercial use was on military uniforms during the First World War. The uniforms bore a light-to-medium green colour with a yellowish or brownish undertone, helping soldiers stealthily blend into their surroundings.

In KHAMSA‘s latest feature ‘Colour Calls’, we look at colours and what they signify in various walks of life. Our first entry is olive green, a beloved and often underrated shade that has had significant impacts across fashion, culture, lifestyles, and other realms.

١. Olive Green in Fashion

Olive Green became popular over time in the fashion industry. It was featured prominently in the 1940s and 1950s, and was often used to make stylish military-inspired apparel. Its earthy traits work well in a variety of fashion settings. The colour adds a touch of sophistication to any space. When choosing accent colours to pair with olive green, one needs to look for colours that are in the same realm, such as earth tones or jewel tones. For a bolder look, olive green can be paired well with brighter shades like yellow and orange, while pairing olive green with contrasting colours like black and white is a modern masterclass.

Indeed, olive green is a symbol of versatility in fashion. It is perfect as an accent colour in accessories, with the likes of military style jackets pairing seamlessly with black pair boots and golden accessories. Olive-coloured clothing items, together with black, and significantly enhance an outfit’s aesthetic. The shade complements all kinds of skin tons, blends with shades, and adds vibrancy to warm hues.

٢. Olive Green in Interior Design

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In the world of interior design, olive green is highly respected and sought. A splash of the colour can warm up an entire room. To highlight the hue, one can pair it with complementary reds and violets, while a more natural look can be achieved with navy and light grays as partners. Due to most shades of greens lacking neutrality, this one stands out, illuminating your space while maintaining a cosy and welcoming atmosphere for your family and friends.

The olive shade of green is also a key element of elegant dining rooms. It pairs well with all kinds of colours, settling into the background while the others take shape through furnishings, arts, and other home elements. This way, it is the host of a relaxing and calming feeling that the more traditional neutrals simply cannot bring to the room.

٣. Olive Green in Art

It was during the Romantic movement in art and literature that green established itself as a social status symbol that embodied a wide variety of emotional states, especially those pertaining to nature. Influential figures like Vincent van Gogh, Childe Hassam, Claude Monet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Paul Cézanne integrated olive green tones into their works.

One of the most influential examples of the shade being used was Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s capture of the serene pastoral scenes, and the contrast with the industrial harshness of the time. Other renowned paintings that utilized the multifaceted colour were “The Bathers” by Childe Hassam, “Various Landscapes” by Paul Cézanne, “Olive Trees” by van Gogh, and “Water lilies” by Claude Monet. These artists established the foundations for olive green being used as a tool in painting, allowing its use to persist among modern and contemporary artists.

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