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Is navy different than navy blue?

Is navy different than navy blue?

Navy and navy blue are two similar but distinct shades of dark blue that are often confused with one another. While they look alike at first glance, there are some key differences between these two classic colors that are worth understanding.

Defining Navy and Navy Blue

Navy is a very dark shade of blue that got its name because it resembles the dark blue color of naval uniforms. It sits between a bright navy blue and an even darker navy black. Navy has a touch more black or gray added to it compared to standard navy blue. It evokes a sense of authority and power.

Navy blue, on the other hand, is a shade of rich blue that was likewise named after the dark blue color used in British Royal Navy uniforms. It is a warmer, brighter, and bolder shade of blue than plain navy. Navy blue calls to mind qualities like trust, confidence, and honesty.

Comparing Color Codes

One way to compare these two shades is by looking at their hexadecimal color codes:

Color Hex Code
Navy #000080
Navy Blue #00009C

As you can see, navy has a hex code of #000080, while navy blue’s is #00009C. The hex code for navy has more black in it, while navy blue has a touch more blue. The color blue’s hex code is #0000FF, so navy blue contains a small amount of pure blue that navy lacks.

Origin of the Colors

Both navy and navy blue originated as colors used in British naval uniforms in the 18th century. British naval uniforms were dark blue in color, which helped camouflage sailors against the ocean environment.

Over time, the official navy uniforms adopted a very dark shade that came to be known as navy. At the same time, the term “navy blue” emerged to describe the classic and slightly brighter blue shade often seen on historical naval dress coats.

Modern Color Uses

Today, both navy and navy blue remain popular colors in fashion. Navy has a more serious, corporate feel, and is commonly used in business suits and uniforms. Navy blue feels a bit brighter and friendlier, and is popular for more casual or relaxed attire.

In home decor, navy can give a space a sleek, upscale look. Navy blue feels more youthful and vibrant as an accent color. Both work well with neutrals like white, gray, and tan.

Comparing Navy and Navy Blue

Here are some key ways to tell navy and navy blue apart:

  • Navy has a grayish undertone, while navy blue leans slightly purple or blue.
  • Navy appears darker and more subdued.
  • Navy blue is brighter and more saturated.
  • Navy feels classic and formal, navy blue is energetic and friendly.

Distinguishing From Similar Colors

In addition to each other, navy and navy blue are easily confused with other dark, rich blue shades. Here’s how they compare:

  • Midnight blue – Much darker, deeper blue than either navy or navy blue.
  • Dark blue – Not as dark as navy, with more obvious blue tones.
  • Indigo – Contains more purple or violet undertones than navy.
  • Cobalt blue – Brighter and more vibrant blue than navy blue.

Using Navy and Navy Blue Together

Because they are so close in shade, navy and navy blue look great when paired together in an outfit, interior space, or color scheme. Navy blue provides bright contrast to plain navy, and draws out navy’s subtle blue undertones.

Some classic color combinations include:

  • Navy blazer with navy blue dress shirt
  • Navy blue jeans with a navy top
  • Navy walls with navy blue accent pillows

The similar but slightly different hues create visual interest and depth when combined. Just be sure to use navy blue sparingly so it doesn’t overpower the navy.

Conveying Different Meanings

Keep in mind that navy and navy blue communicate slightly different moods and meanings based on their distinct histories and cultural associations.

Navy suggests qualities like:

  • Authority
  • Power
  • Refinement
  • Corporate feel

Navy blue conveys:

  • Trust
  • Dependability
  • Approachability
  • Friendliness

So if you want to project vigor and professionalism, reach for navy. Navy blue is a better choice for creating an upbeat, casual mood.


In summary, navy and navy blue are similar dark blue shades that are easily mistaken for one another. But once you recognize the subtle differences between the two, it becomes easier to distinguish them.

Remember that navy has a dark, grayish cast while navy blue is a touch brighter and warmer. Navy feels formal and authoritative, while navy blue is versatile and friendly. Both classics complement each other beautifully when used in color schemes.

So next time you come across these two dark blue hues, you’ll know how to tell them apart. With this knowledge, you can confidently choose the perfect navy or navy blue for your needs.