Periwinkle: What’s in a Color?

Periwinkle: What’s in a Color?

Whether you insist it’s periwinkle blue or periwinkle purple, Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022 - Very Peri - is a stunning hue with a rich and somewhat mysterious history to match.

The periwinkle color is terrifically handsome alongside a broad spectrum of colors to boot - making it an excellent choice in bow ties and other fine menswear accessories for Spring, Summer, and beyond. 

When Did Periwinkle Become a Color?

The color names we’ve all known since toddlerhood have been around for centuries. The most recent of the old familiars being pink, which was first recorded in 1733. Comparatively, then, periwinkle with its 1922 debut as a color-word is a late bloomer, indeed. 

Named after the periwinkle flower (vinca minor), the color itself has been a fixture in both nature and art far longer than one hundred years, but it was only last century that its popularity earned it a name of its own.

Periwinkle Flower


Decidedly on the surname side of the mnemonic character, Roy G. Biv, it is not nearly so clear whether it’s closer to blue or to violet. While we won’t be drawing a line in the sand, we do know that periwinkle is perfect for 2022. 

What Does the Color Periwinkle Symbolize?

The numerous positive attributes of the periwinkle color meaning make it an even more satisfactory choice for Color of the Year.

It exudes a sense of comfort and safety, which is likely why it is often used in religious iconography, and suggests:

  • Companionship
  • Innocence
  • Sentimentality
  • Elegance
  • Optimism  
  • Confidence 
  • Courage
  • Endearment 
  • Purity
  • Rejuvenation
Periwinkle tie with brown shoe


As its symbolism rightly indicates, periwinkle is an approachable color. And as an evergreen vine with striking flowers, the plant is approachable too - which is why some of its alternate names are less so. 

The French call it violette des sorciers (sorcerer’s violet), and the Italians refer to it as fiore di morte (flower of death). Most periwinkles are poisonous (though not all varieties). In the right hands, a sorcerer’s perhaps, they are medicinal; used with mal-intent, they can be the flower of death.

The latter name may not be so sinister, though. It is said that the vines were used to create crowns for the dying, and that the plant was ideal in cemeteries where symbolism ranks high (not to mention, hungry deer or rabbit ignore poisonous blooms).

What Colors Go Well With Periwinkle?

Periwinkle’s nebulous place on the color wheel makes it extremely versatile. Interpret it by the blues and purples in your collection of fine accessories, or - depending on the shade in hand - consider it through the lens of lavender, mauve, lilac, indigo or ultramarine, if that helps. 

Gray and navy suits (and separates) are sure bets for exciting matches, no matter if you're pairing a dark periwinkle color or something lighter. Black and brown are likely to be easy wins too.


Man in grey suit with periwinkle tie and pocket square


For the more adventurous of spirit, pair periwinkle with seasonally-appropriate fabrics, like tweed, seersucker and madras. Thoughtfully complement periwinkle accessories with pieces in the yellow, green, blue and pink families.

At R. Hanauer, we carry a Pantone-perfect periwinkle bow tie (also available as a cummerbund set and a periwinkle tie).  

periwinkle bow tie with white stripes

There is no doubt where this dashing piece falls on the periwinkle vs lavender scale, but with Spring on the immediate horizon and Derby Season not far behind, our Mint & Lavender Dupioni Plaid Bow Tie is an absolute must to showcase.periwinkle bow tie in madras

Our timeless whipstitch border pocket square collection offers the well-dressed gentleman endless bow and necktie pairing options. Our lilac piece, with its subtle yet strong cotton stitching, makes periwinkle tie and pocket square matching easy, no matter the periwinkle hue. Consider making this classic extra special with our in-house monogramming service.

periwinkle white pocket square

For periwinkle inspiration and other colors that are speaking to us, follow us on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Tag us in your 2022 looks too - #rhanauer.

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