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What blue is dark blue?

What blue is dark blue?

Blue is a popular color that comes in many shades. When people refer to “dark blue”, they typically mean a deep, rich shade of blue that has low lightness and possibly a slight purple tint. There are no strict definitions for what constitutes “dark blue”, but some examples of commonly recognized dark blues are navy, midnight, and sapphire.

The Color Spectrum

To understand what makes a color “dark”, it helps to first look at the visible color spectrum. The color spectrum arranges colors by wavelength or frequency of light. It spans from red on one end to violet on the other. In between lie orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo.

Colors also vary in lightness, saturation, and hue. Lightness refers to how light or dark a color is. Saturation describes the intensity of a color. Hue distinguishes between different color families like reds, greens, and blues.

On the color spectrum, blue falls between green and violet. Medium blues like azure and teal sit in the middle. As you move toward violet, the blues get darker until they reach deep midnight and navy hues.

Dark Blue Color Shades

Here are some common shades of dark blue:

Dark Blue Shade Hex Code
Navy #000080
Midnight Blue #191970
Dark Blue #00008b
Sapphire #082567
Prussian Blue #003153

Navy is considered a standard dark blue. Its hex code #000080 shows it has very low values for red and green light, but higher blue intensity. Midnight blue is slightly lighter with a hint of purple. Sapphire is a rich, inky blue named after the gemstone. Prussian blue is a very dark blue with a green bias.

What Makes a Blue Dark?

For a blue to be considered dark, it usually needs:

  • Low lightness -Dark blues have low values of lightness or brightness. They fall close to black on the lightness scale.
  • Less saturation – Fully saturated blues are brighter, like royal blue. Dark blues are more muted and grayish.
  • Shorter wavelength – Dark blues lean toward the violet end of the visible spectrum.
  • Low green content – Dark blues have very little green light. Increased blue and purple distorts hue.

While there are no definite brightness thresholds, most dark blues have lightness values of less than 25-30% on a scale of 0 (black) to 100 (white). They also have very low amounts of green and red light compared to blue and purple.

Dark Blue vs. Navy Blue

Navy blue is arguably the most recognized dark blue. But how does it compare to other dark blues?

Here are some key differences between navy and other dark blues:

  • Navy has more blue than purple bias. Prussian blue and sapphire have more purple.
  • Navy is lighter than midnight, Prussian, and sapphire blues.
  • Navy has a red-blue wavelength of about 470 nm. Midnight blue is around 440 nm.
  • Navy is less saturated than royal blue. Royal blue is a bright, intense blue.

So while navy qualifies as a dark blue, it sits on the lighter end of the dark blue spectrum compared to hues like sapphire, midnight, and Prussian blue.

Uses of Dark Blue

Some common uses and associations for dark shades of blue include:

  • Navy blue – naval uniforms, nautical themes, corporate branding
  • Prussian blue – blueprints, the Prussian flag
  • Sapphire blue – gemstones, upscale products
  • Midnight blue – eveningwear, formal events
  • Dark blue – professional services, technology companies

Darker blues suggest sophistication, confidence, and professionalism. Lighter blues seem more soothing, calm, and refreshing.

Dark Blue in Design

In design, dark blues can create bold, dramatic effects. They add depth and contrast when combined with lighter colors:

  • Navy blue accentuates oranges, reds, and yellows
  • Prussian blue offsets light tan, stone, and cream palettes
  • Midnight blue complements silver, white, and grays
  • Sapphire blue plays against light greens, pinks, and lavenders

In web design and photography, dark blues help draw the eye to the focus point. The high contrast makes lighter elements stand out more.

Dark Blue in Fashion

Deep blues are staple colors in fashion. Here are some examples of dark blue in clothing:

  • Denim jeans – the quintessential blue clothing
  • Navy suits and dresses – standard in businesswear
  • Leather jackets – midnight blue is a popular choice
  • Blue jewel tones – sapphire blue cocktail dresses
  • Nautical stripes – navy and white stripes

Dark blue flatters most skin tones. It’s commonly recommended for people with cooler undertones. But shades like navy also complement warm complexions.

Dark Blue Meanings

Darker blues are associated with:

  • Confidence – Dark blues like navy convey assuredness.
  • Authority – The color of police and military uniforms.
  • Trust – Corporate blues represent credibility and dependability.
  • Sophistication – Midnight and sapphire blues seem refined and upscale.
  • Mystery – The depth of dark blue suggests the unknown.

Lighter blues are more calm and soothing. But as blue gets darker, it gains more commanding and powerful undertones.


While there are no strict definitions for dark blue, the term generally refers to deeper, richer blues with low lightness, lower saturation, and a short wavelength leaning toward purple. Common dark blues include navy, midnight, sapphire, and Prussian blue.

Dark blues are bold and dramatic colors that suggest confidence and professionalism. They are versatile shades that stand out against lighter palettes in design. Dark blue makes an enduring fashion statement in formal and casual wear.