What Color Is Burgundy and How Do You Use It Successfully?

Burgundy color illustration with monitor and paintbrush

Few colors evoke dignity and sophistication like burgundy does. This deep, dark jewel tone can be used to create striking interiors, make elegant outfits, and round out captivating digital designs.

Maybe you’re already well-acquainted with burgundy, or maybe you have only a passing familiarity with this versatile shade. Either way, here’s a deep dive into the color burgundy and how you can use it to create your best designs yet.

Burgundy in Brief

Close-up of wavy, satiny burgundy fabric

Burgundy is a deep shade of purplish red. It often has a bit of a brownish undertone, too. As a jewel tone, it is deep, rich, and saturated — often reminiscent of the color of a garnet.

If you work in digital design, the best way to understand burgundy might be to look at its color codes:

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

Looking at the RGB values, you can see that there’s a little bit of blue. That helps explain the purplish tint most shades of burgundy have. In CMYK, magenta and yellow create red, and the high percentage of black explains the relative depth and darkness.

It’s important to note that while the color coordinates above show you the web color called “burgundy,” there are several different shades of this versatile color.

Is Burgundy the Same As Maroon?

Unless they routinely work with color or have an interest in color theory, many people use the color names “burgundy” and “maroon” interchangeably. These two might be similar at first glance, but they are far from being the same.

If you want a quick, simple way to remember the difference, you can distinguish the colors this way:

  • Burgundy: a deep, purplish red
  • Maroon: a deep, brownish red

For the sake of comparison, here are burgundy and maroon next to each other:

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

Maroon
Hex #800000
RGB 128, 0, 0
CMYK 0, 100, 100, 50
HSL 0°, 100%, 25.1%

As you can see, burgundy has more blue undertones than maroon. Maroon has more yellow undertones than burgundy.

Burgundy in History

Close-up of a burgundy European Union passport with gold lettering

This color’s name comes from Burgundy wine, a specific type of red wine that comes from the Burgundy region of France. As a result, some people use “wine red” to describe burgundy or a color close to it. The word “burgundy” was first used as a color name in 1881. Note that when “burgundy” is used as the name of a color (and not as the name of a region or a specific type of wine), it isn’t capitalized.

This rich, purplish red has long been associated with luxury and sophistication. Some of that may be because kings and queens are often portrayed as wearing burgundy robes. The color’s deep, jewel-toned quality is also reminiscent of the look of a garnet. And of course, the fact that it’s named after a legendary French wine doesn’t hurt!

Burgundy is a color that commands attention, so it naturally pops up in a variety of different contexts. Fashion and beauty aficionados already know that burgundy lipstick was all the rage in the 1990s, and European Union passports are usually burgundy.

The Meaning of Burgundy

Abstract image of a tunnel made up of burgundy arrows on a black background

Every color has a meaning shaped by history and cultural associations. And if you’re a graphic designer or somebody else who works with color, you already know that having a strong working knowledge of color meanings is essential.

The cultural meanings of colors are ingrained in us — so much so that they even affect your audience on a subconscious level. So what does burgundy communicate to those who view your design?

Just like many other colors, burgundy has a complex, intricate meaning. Here’s a quick rundown of some of this powerful color’s main meanings and associations.

Intensity

Burgundy isn’t a bright color, but what it lacks in brightness, it makes up for in boldness, depth, and intensity. Much of that intensity comes from the high proportion of red found here. Red is a color connected to courage and strength (and even sometimes to anger).

Burgundy has a lot of that same strength, but the inclusion of blue and black undertones makes it muted and slightly understated. If there’s a color symbolic of controlled intensity, it’s burgundy!

Sophistication and Luxury

Burgundy isn’t just an intense color — it also evokes a sense of sophistication and refinement. Some of that association likely comes from the fact that the color’s name comes from a high-end French wine.

Notably, burgundy is a color that manages to look luxurious without becoming gaudy or tacky. Like black, it’s one of the few shades that communicates exclusivity and refinement without boasting about it.

Power

Think of the last time you saw an illustration of a king or queen. There’s a good chance that the illustrated ruler was wearing a burgundy-colored cape. Similarly, castles and other extravagant residences are often depicted as being decorated with burgundy and gold. This kind of association might explain why burgundy is so closely connected to power. But just as it does with sophistication and luxury, burgundy doesn’t announce power — it suggests it.

Groundedness

Some colors are so pale and light that they seem ready to float right out of a design at a moment’s notice. Burgundy is not one of those colors! It has a certain gravitas to it that makes it a great, creative choice for keeping a color scheme grounded.

You probably wouldn’t characterize burgundy as being a “cozy” color, but its depth and groundedness can give you a secure, almost ensconced feeling. If you’ve ever been in a room with striking burgundy walls, you know this exact feeling!

Shades of Burgundy: Example Color Codes

Squares of leather in various shades of burgundy

Above, we gave you the color codes for a particular shade of “standard” burgundy. That color is an exemplary shade, but there’s no singular standard burgundy — just like there’s no “official” code for green or blue. Here are five different shades of burgundy. See if one might be the right choice for your next design project.

1. Vivid Burgundy

Vivid burgundy is a color that leans a bit more red than classic burgundy — so much so that it actually approaches crimson. It’s a nice choice for designs where you’d like to use a classic shade of red but need something a little more toned down.

Vivid Burgundy
Hex #9F1D35
RGB 159, 29, 53
CMYK 0, 82, 67, 38
HSL 348.9°, 69.1%, 36.9%

If you’re acquainted with the world of cosmetology, vivid burgundy may look familiar. That’s because it’s a color commonly used in hair dye.

2. Dark Burgundy

If your design demands a shade of burgundy that’s as luxuriant as possible, dark burgundy is worth checking out.

Dark Burgundy
Hex #65081F
RGB 101, 8, 31
CMYK 0, 92, 69, 60
HSL 345.2°, 85.3%, 21.4%

Because it’s deeper and darker than many shades of burgundy, dark burgundy is great for creating high-contrast designs with lighter colors. For example, if you’re creating an invitation that needs to have a dark background, dark burgundy creates enough of a contrast to be used with white text.

3. Old Burgundy

Old burgundy captures the look of old, weather-worn, tattered burgundy cloth. In some lights, it even looks more like a shade of brown or gray than a shade of burgundy.

Old Burgundy
Hex #43302E
RGB 67, 48, 46
CMYK 0, 28, 31, 74
HSL 5.7°, 18.6%, 22.2%

As you’d expect just looking at old burgundy, it includes a lot less red and magenta than the other burgundy shades on the list.

4. Burgundy Wine

The name of this shade is a little redundant — after all, Burgundy is a type of wine! But name aside, this is a useful burgundy variant that’s somewhere between old burgundy and classic burgundy. It has a faintly distressed look that makes it an appropriate choice for vintage-style designs.

Burgundy Wine
Hex #6C403E
RGB 108, 64, 62
CMYK 0, 41, 43, 58
HSL 2.6°, 27.1%, 33.3%

This color manages to be rich and dusty at once. It’s perfect if you need a distinctive, earthy almost-neutral.

5. Blackberry Burgundy

This burgundy shade has an appetizing name. And as you may have guessed, it’s a bit darker than many burgundy variants.

Blackberry Burgundy
Hex #4C3938
RGB 76, 57, 56
CMYK 0, 25, 26, 70
HSL 3°, 15.2%, 25.9%

Like old burgundy, blackberry burgundy sometimes looks more brownish or grayish than reddish. It’s a color that seems to get more complex the longer you look at it!

How Does Burgundy Compare to Other Wine-Inspired Shades?

An abstract design of hexagons in many shades of burgundy

We mentioned earlier that some people use the color names “burgundy” and “wine red” interchangeably. But just as there are many varieties of red wine, there are many different colors based on those varieties. Here are a few of them that you might compare to burgundy.

1. Bordeaux vs. Burgundy

Like Burgundy, Bordeaux is another variety of wine made in a specific region of France. The Bordeaux region typically produces merlots and cabernet sauvignon, so as you can imagine, this is a color that’s pretty similar to burgundy.

Some people say burgundy and bordeaux are two words for the same color. Others characterize burgundy as being more purple and bordeaux as being more red.

But if we’re going by standard web colors, it’s the opposite — a quick look at each shade shows you that the web color bordeaux has a distinctly purple cast. Burgundy is decidedly more red.

Bordeaux
Hex #5C0120
RGB 92, 1, 32
CMYK 0, 99, 65, 64
HSL 339.6°, 97.8%, 18.2%

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

2. Claret vs. Burgundy

Claret is separate from bordeaux (at least in the world of web colors). But when it comes to the actual wines, these two are the same. Claret is a British word used to describe Bordeaux wine.

Claret
Hex #7F1734
RGB 127, 23, 52
CMYK 0, 82, 59, 50
HSL 343.3°, 69.3%, 29.4%

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

3. Shiraz vs. Burgundy

This unique-sounding wine’s name comes from a historic type of wine made in Shiraz, a city in what is now Iran. Today, wine sold as “Shiraz” is wine made with the Syrah grape. It’s most commonly made in South Africa and Australia.

As you can see, this particular wine-inspired color is somewhat similar to burgundy — it just has markedly cooler undertones. That’s easily explained by the RGB values, as it has more blue than most of the other colors we’ve included thus far.

Shiraz
Hex #802539
RGB 128, 37, 57
CMYK 0, 71, 55, 50
HSL 346.8°, 55.2%, 32.4%

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

4. Merlot vs. Burgundy

Merlot wine is made from the Merlot grape. Like most red wines, its color is similar to that of Burgundy. The web color versions of both wines are also quite similar. If you aren’t too familiar with how Hex codes work, you might not think these shades were similar based on Hex values alone. But when you see the similarities between the RGB and CMYK values of both, the similarities between both colors make a lot of sense.

Merlot
Hex #7F171F
RGB 127, 23, 31
CMYK 0, 82, 76, 50
HSL 355.4°, 69.3%, 29.4%

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

5. Beaujolais vs. Burgundy

Like Burgundy wine, Beaujolais is named for the region where it’s produced — the Beaujolais region of France. This wine’s corresponding web color is essentially a more purple-leaning burgundy, so it’s a good choice for designers looking for something burgundy-like but cooler.

Beaujolais
Hex #80304C
RGB 128, 48, 76
CMYK 0, 63, 41, 50
HSL 339°, 45.5%, 34.5%

Burgundy
Hex #800020
RGB 128, 0, 32
CMYK 0, 100, 75, 50
HSL 345°, 100%, 25.1%

What Colors Pair Well With Burgundy?

Unless you’re creating a design where you only need a single color, you’ll need to select a color or two that goes with burgundy. There are countless colors that pair nicely with this versatile dark red, but if you just need a handful of ideas to get you started, here are a few to consider:

1. Cool White

Cool White and Burgundy Color Palette

Hex Codes: #F4FDFF, #753742, #72705B

Plenty of designers — digital, interior, and otherwise — are drawn to burgundy for its depth and darkness. Often, that means that this remarkable shade needs a very light color to balance out the design.

Interior design offers a simple yet effective way to help burgundy avoid seeming too dark. A shade of cool, crisp white is perfect for adding contrast and lightening things up.

For example, if you’re someone who likes the dramatic look of burgundy walls, you might consider using cool white wall trim and incorporating bursts of cool white throughout the room.

2. Pale Gray

Pale Gray and Burgundy Color Palette

Hex Codes: #D3D3D3, #66101F, #855A5C

The combination of gray and burgundy (or gray and maroon) is a classic, particularly in the world of clothing. But when you combine deep burgundy and pale gray, you open up all kinds of opportunities. The light/dark contrast makes this combo a great one for logos and websites. It’s also perfect if you want to create distinctive, memorable patterns.

3. Cool Beige

Cool Beige and Burgundy Color Palette

Hex Codes: #D8BCAB, #A4243B, #151E3F

Not a fan of gray? If you need a different light, non-white color to go along with burgundy, a soft shade of cool beige might be just right.

Combining just about any jewel tone with beige or khaki will give you a classic, timeless look. This combination also works much like a toned-down version of a burgundy/gold color scheme. If the mixture of burgundy and gold is too loud or opulent for the design you’re creating, the burgundy/beige combination is certainly one to consider.

4. Gold

Gold and Burgundy Color Palette

Hex Codes: #D4AF37, #6E0D25, #FCEFF9

Whether you see it on a king’s robe or a movie theater curtain, the combination of burgundy and gold is an easily recognizable one. Your design strategy might vary depending on your goals. But generally speaking, you want to limit your use of gold to just accents. Too much can easily look gaudy.

5. Blush Pink

Blush Pink and Burgundy Color Palette

Hex Codes: #F1ABB9, #8B1E3F, #3C153B

Want to use burgundy in a color combination you don’t see every day? Blush pink and burgundy are two somewhat muted shades that work nicely together.

Of course, you probably want to use caution when using these two together. The combination of red and pink is often reminiscent of Valentine’s Day, and unless you’re working on a holiday-specific design, you likely want to avoid that connotation.

One way to avoid making your design look like a Valentine’s Day card is to choose one of these colors to use as an accent. For example, you can create a vintage-inspired floral design with a pale blush pink background and a few burgundy roses.

How Do You Successfully Use Burgundy in a Design?

A cheerful abstract design featuring two glimmering burgundy cubes

Now that you’ve gotten a brief primer on burgundy, we hope you’re excited to put it to work in your next design. But like many deep and intense shades, burgundy is a color you should wield with a careful hand. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started creating captivating new designs.

Create Dark, Moody Aesthetics

You can use burgundy in your designs to create any number of different aesthetics. The most obvious one might be a dark, moody look, and pairing black with burgundy is a simple way to achieve it.

This color combination really lends itself to the creation of gothic or noir-style interiors and other designs. You can really lean into this kind of mood with specialized textures — the combination of burgundy velvet and black lace is a classic.

If you go this route, be careful to not let the overall aesthetic become too dark. For interiors, be sure a room with a darker aesthetic has enough natural light to balance out the darker colors. For digital designs or prints, interspersing lighter colors or at least including lighter highlights on the darker colors can help.

Go Opulent

What color combination suggests opulence, royalty, or success? The answer to that question varies depending on who you ask, but burgundy and gold create a classic “luxury” aesthetic. If you like the look of metallics but would prefer an overall cool color scheme, try substituting silver for gold.

Luxuriant aesthetics like this one can quickly become too over the top, so it’s a good idea to be conservative with the metallics. For example, if you’re designing a postcard-style invitation, you might use an all-burgundy card and include a gold or silver border with coordinating text.

Try a Modern Combo

Lots of people view burgundy as being a classic — even staid — color. There’s nothing wrong with using burgundy to create a more traditional design, but if you want to do something modern and unexpected, consider combining it with pale or pastel shades.

For example, let’s say you need to create an eye-catching pattern. If you’re going for something high-contrast and unusual, consider making a thin-lined, burgundy plaid over a baby blue background. If you want to keep the contrast but warm up the overall aesthetic, use peach instead of baby blue.

Add New Dimension With Texture

Like other jewel tones, burgundy looks especially striking when combined with a texture. After all, most burgundy, emerald, and deep blue couches are velvet or velour.

If you work with interiors, using texture is easy enough. But even if you’re primarily a digital designer, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of texture. Texture draws your audience’s attention, and different textures appeal to their emotions in different ways.

For instance, if your design features burgundy with a satiny, fabric-like texture, your audience might think immediately of luxury. But if the same color has a fluffy texture like that of a shag rug, they might feel a sense of relaxation and coziness.

Burgundy: An Underrated Classic

Illustration of the color burgundy with its hex code #800020

In recent years, burgundy has started to gain popularity in the design world. However, its slightly muted aesthetic, jewel-tone depth, and eye-catching darkness give it a classic appeal.

That timelessness makes it a suitable choice for just about any style. If you’re ready to embark on a new color adventure, try incorporating burgundy into your next design!