In a nod to gender equality and the quest to be mindful, the Pantone Color Institute released two colors of the year Thursday morning: a blush pink it named Rose Quartz, and a baby blue called Serenity.

This is the first time the New Jersey authority on all things color has predicted two shades would drive our home decor, fashion, and beauty moods.

In the last year, Pantone's specialists have watched dusty rose and sky blue dominate showrooms and runways - separately, color-blocked, in mixed-print patterns, and melded together as ombré.

They have been so inseparable Pantone decided it didn't want to separate them but would rather embrace the duo as one influential combo.

But the colors aren't just trendy winter pastels - think the soft blue handbag by Celiné that was popular last year; Pantone's choice of traditional baby hues is a statement on blurring gender lines, especially in fashion.

"This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity," Pantone executive director Leatrice Eiseman said in a news release.

Lisa White, head of the think tank and lifestyle interiors teams at global trend forecasting company WGSN, called Pantone's decision to be "genderful" brave and important.

"We need two colors because we need to be fair and equal," White said. "Women can be strong. Men can be mindful. In my eyes, Pantone was going for equality."

On the home front, weightless shades have become more popular, said Trish Helmke, color specialist at Nolan Painting in Havertown.

"People are moving away from those darker accent walls to fleshy colors," Helmke said. "Instead of a dark brown or red wall, they would rather living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, be all one color. It's all becoming much more monochromatic."

It's a big departure from last year's color, Marsala, a saturated brownish red.

Barette Widell of the Center City interior design firm Widell Designs said she noticed her clients were craving more serene surroundings. A blush chair in velvet is not just relaxing - it's rich. Pillows with soft blue and pink swirls are cool - especially in a family room. And ombré rugs softly jazz up any space - especially a teenage girl's room.

"This trend isn't fading anytime soon," Widell said.

White said the soft-hued color combination was very modern and futuristic. In their latest reincarnation, pastels, generally, are clean, not muddy like they were in the 1960s. And when trimmed in gold, they can be ornate – Scandanavian-influenced, if you will.

"It's quite sweet, relaxing, and inviting," White said. "These colors together create spaces that are inviting and are calm safe havens."

You'll see this year's exact colors in a number of products resulting from collaborations with Pantone: a few menswear pieces by Thomas Pink, a makeup palette courtesy of Sephora, KitchenAid mixers, fabric by Kravet, and a fragrance called Harmony courtesy of Firmenich.

Fashionably speaking, we've seen pops of pink and blue not just in BCBG's boho apparel or a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap, but in rainbow-streaked hair and overly blushed cheeks. Winter pastel coats, especially of the pinky blush variety, were quite popular last winter.

Although the neutral tones can be pretty, they can be tough for some people to wear, warns Alisa Frederico, a Philadelphia personal stylist.

"They are really hard for fairer skin tones to pull off," Federico said. "So what I would suggest is that you dial the shade up or down based on your complexion. Or, simply introduce an accessory."

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