Liberal Arts Blog — the Magic of Gray, Blue, and White

Liberal Arts Blog — Friday is the Joy of Art, Architecture, Design, Film, and All Things Visual Day

Today’s Topic: The Magic of Gray, Blue, and White

What does the title of this post evoke first? The sky? It can be blue, gray, or white. Or a combination of two. Or a combination of all three. Or does it evoke the uniform of school children in Britain — blue blazer, gray pants, white shirt? How many countries use this combo for school uniforms? why? This is also the formula for the classic men’s semi-formal evening combo of the same palette — in Britain and France. And why did this topic come up? Because two days ago I put on a pair of jeans, and a white turtle neck, and I had to decide what sweater to put on top. I chose a crew neck light gray sweater. I looked in the mirror and thought: wow, what a nice color combo. It’s perfect. The perfect balance. Not too much color. Not too little. And so complementary. Then I realized I had recreated the combo of my parochial grade school uniform! Eureka! Topic for a post! Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.

BLUE, WHITE AND GRAY — memories from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s

1. My grade school uniform at Annunciation (k-8) on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington DC was navy blue blazer, gray pants (flannel in fall and winter, cotton in spring), and white buck shoes which had to be polished every morning.

2. My father’s go-to semi-casual, semi-formal outfit was a blue blazer, gray flannel pants, and a white shirt. Shoes were leather wing-tips — usually cordovan.

3. When I studied in Paris for a year at Sciences Po, there was no uniform, but every other student wore a blue blazer, gray pants, and a white shirt. As did the staff at the coat check in the lobby.

NB: Then there was the classic variation of blue jeans and button down white shirt of the semi-hippie, semi-preppy. Gray generally missing. Shoe options: sneakers, desert boots, construction boots, sandals…


1. A nice palette for living room? dining room?

2. How about a bedroom?

3. Bathroom?

NB: It’s all about the shade of each, isn’t it? Would you go for bold or muted? would one of the three be dominant? What questions should be asked? What are the best answers?


1. Blue is the Union.

2. Gray is the Confederacy.

3. White is the flag of peace. Think Appomattox.

NB: The Blue and the Gray was a television miniseries starring Gregory Peck as Abraham Lincoln that aired in November 1982. The first single of the Bee Gees was “The Battle of the Blue and the Grey,” released only in Australia in 1963. It was a flop. Barry Gibb wrote it when he was 16. The third link below is only for die hard Bee Gee fans. Some debut singles deserved to die. And the sooner the better.

FOOTNOTE — No major country has a grey, white, and blue flag, why?

1. Grey, like brown, is too drab.

2. Blue and white immensely popular on the other hand.

3. Blue and white alone are hugely popular in both home decor and attire for women and men.

NB: But let me put in a few words in honor of grey: rain clouds (no rain, no life), the sea, elephant trunks, mountains, squirrels, the bark of trees, stone walls, pavement stretching into the horizon… Thoughts? Final word: It was remarkably difficult to find good photographs for this post. And I completely failed to find a good history of the color combo. Any help?

The Battle of the Blue and the Grey

♫ Bee Gees ♥ The Battle of The Blue & The Grey ♫

the battle of the blue and the grey lyrics bee gees — Google Search

True Blue: A History of the Navy Blazer — Brooks Brothers

A Brief History of the Enduring Power of the Blue Blazer


PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned recently or ever related to art, sculpture, design, architecture, film, or anything visual.

This is your chance to make some one else’s day. And to cement in your own memory something cool or important you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than you otherwise would about something that is close to your heart.