A Study in Beige

beige: light brown colour
synonyms: camel, cream, khaki, off-white, tan, taupe, biscuit, buff, ecru, fawn, mushroom, neutral, oatmeal, sand, cafe au lait

I know it’s childish to object to a colour, but I don’t like beige.  Maybe I can’t forgive it for looking so icky on me.

And yet, in other applications and in the right light, it’s quite delightful.

Gaggle of goslings with parent Canada Goose.

Dried heads of pampas-style grasses in warm morning light.

New leaves backlit by sun in forested area.


  1. Where do sunglasses fit into the photographer’s lifestyle? These photos are delightful but their colors range from crouton to Midas’ touch with Barbara’s cinnamon in the middle. Nary a glimpse of the lone and level silicones that stretch far away.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Laurna – It does seem that beige covers a wide range of sins. Certainly I have never seen sand the colour of a fawn, or a camel, for that matter.

  2. barbara carlson

    The last time John and I went car buying, the salesman steered us to a beige station wagon. John and I both slowed our pace, trudging towards the hideous car/colour. We didn’t buy it and agree later that we would never be happy again if we had. Beige is the colour of sadness and defeat. If you paint your rooms beige you have given up.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – I foresee a whole (new?) subset of psychological diagnostic tools, asking people about the paint in their homes. I remember moving to a new office where a designer had got loose, painting the walls two dark colours – eggplant and olive, or somesuch. Some of the women said it took them forever to get dressed in the AM, because they kept rejecting outfits based on how they’d look against those disturbing walls.

  3. Tom Watson

    Well, there is already a psychological diagnostic tool called the Lüscher color test—a psychological test invented by Dr. Max Lüscher in Basel, Switzerland. Max Lüscher believed that sensory perception of color is objective and universally shared by all, but that color preferences are subjective, and that this distinction allows subjective states to be objectively measured by using test colors. Lüscher believed that because the color selections are guided in an unconscious manner, they reveal the person as they really are, not as they perceive themselves or would like to be perceived.

    I copied that definition from Wikipedia, but for what it’s worth I’m not much of a beige guy either.

    When we, for a time, lived in manses, Janice would say, “The manse committee wants to paint. I suppose it will be parsonage beige again!”


    1. Isabel Gibson

      Tom – I spent years with off-white (aka beige) walls. My father said it was the safest colour for selling your house, and that’s likely true. Of course, I guess you have to decide whether you’re decorating for yourself or for the next owner. My current foyer is dark red; my living room walls are gold; my office is a dark blue/grey.

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