What Are the Differences Between Pewter & Charcoal in Clothing?

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Shades of gray are trendy colors for a wardrobe but it can be difficult to distinguish between one hue and another. Pewter and charcoal are two similar shades that can be easily distinguished by paying attention to sheen and depth of color. Knowing the difference will make it simple to match outfits when clothes are in one of these hues.

Traditional Uses

To understand the difference in the colors of charcoal and pewter, it's important to first be able to identify what objects in the real world are traditionally in the shades. Charcoal is easy to pinpoint, as bricks of coal come in this chalky, gray color. Pewter is a metal that was very popular in colonial times and pewter candlestick holders, lamp shades and tankards are characterized by a deep gray metal color that is darker than other metals like silver, aluminum or tin.


One easy way to determine a shirt or scarf that is charcoal or pewter is by shade. Shade refers to the amount of lightness or darkness found in a hue. Typically, charcoal will be a deeper shade than pewter, as metallic pewter reflects more light and is represented in fabric as being a lighter gray. Charcoal is deeply shaded and will be a dark gray, almost black color, when used in clothing like a sweater or blouse.


Sheen refers to the amount of shine or reflected light in a color. Pewter, as it is a color usually found on metals, will have a high level of sheen. Because of this, many pewter-colored clothing items are made of a high-sheen material like silk or satin, or will include shine-inducing embellishments like beads. Charcoal has a low level of sheen and will have no shine to it at all, making it easier to distinguish between the two shades of gray.