To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Pantone released this visual timeline of color trends by decade. The color firm's annual forecasting reports always make the Internet rounds, but this overview emphasizes how goofy it is to make big, sweeping claims about the color zeitgeist. There are only seven colors in the rainbow (three of those being primaries), and they are by default going to be popular forever, since they are the only colors we have. Blame the properties of light and the anatomy of the human eye.
Pantone's value is supposedly related to how well the company analyzes the various nuances of hue and tone and shade, but what matters most about the colors we wear is how we wear them — that is, how we combine them with neutrals. For example, that collection of Eighties brights below looks more muted and washed out than the actual style of the period, and that's because there's no black pictured, no shiny sequins or studs.