Mix purple and brown, and you get puce color, a close relative of hot sienna. The color’s name is the French word for the flea. While puce color schemes may not be always the first color to pop to mind when you develop one palette, it’s a great neutral often used in modern interior decor. In this article, we love to show you the definition, history, the meaning of the puce shades of color, and some fashion advice to mix and match with puce hue clothes. 

Puce color
Puce color

Puce color visual art 

Greens, oranges, and yellows play wonderfully with puce color vision. In palettes like these, the puce CMYK color model works greatest as a secondary color, bringing out a bright accent. The hex code to puce color is #CC8899. 

This hue is also associated with earth and nature. That is, after all, the rich brown often seen when outdoors. 

Looking for one different hue? The following colors are related to puce color vision. 

  • Purple 
  • Burnt sienna 
  • Brown 

Information about Puce color graphic design / #CC8899 

In an RGB color space (made from three coloring lights for red, green, and blue), hex #CC8899 is made of 53.3% green, 80% red, and 60% blue. In a CMYK color space (also well-known as process color, or four colors, and used in color printing), hex #CC8899 be made of 0% cyan, 33% magenta, 25% yellow, and 20% black. Puce color light owns a hue angle of 345 degrees, a saturation of 40%, and a lightness of 66.7%. 

Color conversion 


RGB PERCENTAGE80, 53.3, 60rgb(80%, 53.3%, 60%)
RGB DECIMAL204, 136, 153rgb(204, 136, 153)
HSL345°, 40, 66.7hsl(345°, 40%, 66.7%)
WEB SAFEcc9999#cc9999
CIE-LAB63.956, 28.35, 1.674
XYZ39.457, 32.748, 34.374
XYY0.37, 0.307, 32.748
CIE-LCH63.956, 28.4, 3.38
HUNTER-LAB57.226, 26.398, 1.381
BINARY11001100, 10001000, 10011001


Historical Mention of “Puce color space”

The earliest mention of “puce color” during history is in connection with French Queen Marie Antoinette (1755–1793) who is told to have held “puce” as a favorite color. Puce color vision has a similar beginning to that of the color carmine. Both these colors are derived from insects which secret blood-red colorant that is used as a pigment in cloth painting and dying. Carmine, used from antiquity, comes from the cochineal while the puce shade of color, like the etymology and definitions above, makes clear, comes from the troublesome and usually quite dangerous flea (e.g. bubonic plague and typhus). In the case of the cochineal, the red comes from the resin of the bark that it consumes whereas, in the case of the flea, the red comes from the blood from this parasite’s host.

While English translations of Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, for example, the translation by Keith Baines, refer to Gareth, the Red Knight on “The Tale of Sir Gareth,” as the Puce Knight, this is merely one translation convention so as not to confuse the heroic Sir Gareth and the villainous Red Knight of the Red Lands. Since we must be denied Le Morte d’Arthur as the historical beginning of “puce colors,” we find that the shade puce color visual arts media has historical roots in the sensuous court of Marie Antoinette and begins its life c. 1787, or between 1780 and 1790.

Source of the Puce color

The brownish-purple color of puce color qualia is seen in nature under two conditions. Should a hapless sleeper have been bitten by a flea in one night during the 1700s, dark spots may stain the snow-white linen (linen: clothes made from reeds) sheets and be found upon awakening. Should an individual occur to espy a flea upon their person or upon the person of another individual, if the flea can be caught and smashed, the parasitic flea would release dark fluid resulting from biting its host?

Cultural Association Between Fleas with Puce color space

This raises the question of how a parasitic flea’s secretions could be connected with a Queen’s new and favorite color. The answer, which bears directly to the history of puce colors, lies in the historical association of fleas with the unbridled, i.e., uncontrolled, desires of l’amor, of love. By the 1300s, the firmly established French idiom (conveyed in English) “to have a flea in an ear” meant to be provoked with amorous desire. French poetry of 1300 with the 1400s speaks of putting fleas in young women’s ears to arouse desire in them. A French poem written in the 1600s by Jean de la Fontaine shows the continuance of this idiom associating fleas with provoking amorous desire:

One longing girl

With thoughts of sweetheart in her head,

In bed, all night would sleeplessly twirl.

A flea is in her ear, ’tis said. (Jean de la Fontaine by Michael Quinion on World Wide Words)

Cultural Association of Fleas with Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette had an unstable position as the judge of Louis XVI because of his physical condition, phimosis made procreation of a successor a difficulty and an improbability. Since Marie Antoinette’s sole role in the royal house was to bear and rear the royal offspring and future Kings from France, the absence of procreative relations with Louis made Marie Antoinette essentially surplus. Consequently, according to Mylynka Kilgore of the University of Texas, Marie Antoinette set up a role and position for herself by usurping that of royal mistress to the King, a role represented by exuberance and extravagance in opposition to that representation of the Queen’s role through modesty and purity. As a result of willful association with the role of mistress, Marie Antoinette’s image was one of uncontrollable desire: Her image was one of a young woman with a flea in her ear.

The color puce qualia have as one of its sources that dark spots that might be found on sheets after being in sleep. Queen Antoinette’s sheets were checked all mornings for signs of her virginity had been overcome by King Louis. The color puce qualia came into existence. Puce hue was Queen Antoinette’s favorite color. Courtier’s for centuries had written lewd poems about using puce color to induce sexual desire in pure young women.

History of the Puce color

There is no historical record that states the reason puce color light came into the story or that says that the reason Marie Antoinette favored puce hue was that she cannot escape the ironic similarity between the spots left by gorged puce shades of color and by spots courtiers and ambassadors hoped would indicate the promise of one heir to the French throne, but there certainly is an interesting cultural relationship between the idiomatic role played by fleas in French culture and the position of mistress Marie Antoinette was forced to play in the French court.

Recommendation to wear with puce color light

From childhood, we are taught colors and hues. Cartoons and fairy tales, toys, and many other games are dedicated to that. But not even all adults know about the existence of some interesting with unusual names of colors and shades. One of them is a puce color.

Meaning of puce shades of color

Puce color light looks noble and refined. It is suitable to almost all members of the fair sex, regardless of age and physique with one cold color scheme of appearance.

In the old days, the puce hue was named a dark shade of brown color. The name of the toner sounds unique and mysterious. But if translated from French everything is much more prosaic, which means “shade of crushed flea”. Later, the obsolete meaning of the word was forgotten, and today designers call it a noble powdery tone between purple and pink. It is often used in creating fashion collections and in sewing nice outfits.

With what to combine in the outfit

Puce graphic can be used for formal looks, romantic dinners, casual style. With what to combine it? Designers recommend the following:

  • Any of the powder shades go well with white;
  • The gentle black color is also perfectly combined with a gentle puce color shade. However, that tandem can look too simple therefore demands appreciable accessories (for example, gold may be silver tones);
  • the light puce shade is well complemented by a bright version of the same color scheme (for example, you can combine it with a brighter pink color).
  • Stylists do not recommend using powder color to create a monochrome outfit. Such outfits look quite pale, indistinctly without a bright accent. Therefore, while choosing a dress of this tone, be sure to pick up bright shoes. Another great option is to combine a puce shade clothes with denim hues (from deep to light blue). This is a trend that is suitable for active ones who are ready for the usual patterns in clothing.

How to make an outfit

Designers create a huge variety of interesting images with a puce shade of color: from romantic to daring. Here are some of the most popular choices:

  1. The evening look in the color of powder will be wonderful if you choose a delicate dress combined with bright shoes.
Puce color dress with bright shoes
Puce color dress with bright shoes

2. The business outfit will become much lighter if you replace the strict white blouse with a pink or sandy one (it is combined with a brown skirt or pants that will keep the austerity of business style but at the same time hint at the romantic nature). Pencil skirt goes well with a white blouse, which looks so elegant, solemn. On Friday, you can get a more relaxed style with a powder-blue blouse with ruffles, as well as dark blue trousers with high waists.

Pink blouse with puce color pants
Pink blouse with puce color pants


Pencil skirt with snow-white blouse
Pencil skirt with a white blouse

3. To have a casual look, classic blue jeans with a sweater, jacket or cardigan are a great outfit formula to have in your arsenal.

Puce color dress with blue jeans
Puce color dress with blue jeans