Taylor’d with Style -- Is Pink Even Real?
By JeanAnn Taylor
If you know me, you know I love pink. In fact, I’m pretty much obsessed with the pretty color. I wear pink nearly every day, I live in a mostly-pink house, and I search for pink accessories and kitchen gadgets whenever I’m shopping.
My pink obsession isn’t something I grew into, it’s the way I’ve been my entire life. As a young girl, I gravitated toward pink like a magnet. As a teenager, I hid my fetish to avoid teasing, but as an adult, I’m perfectly comfortable embracing and expressing my passion for pink. I’m also curious; what is it about this sweet, innocent color that gives it immediate recognition, power over our emotions, and influence over our economy?
It’s interesting that such cultural and emotional emphasis has been placed on pink. Look up articles on, “Why girls love pink,” and you’ll find hundreds of studies and opinions. Look up, “Why girls love any-other-color,” and you’ll find very little.
Color psychology, which is the study of color, suggests that people who love pink share similar character traits. Pink lovers are typically loving, sensitive, and approachable. They long to care for others, but they also long to be cared for. Pink-people are in touch with their femininity, organized, refined, calm, naive, and reserved.
Studies show that while blue is the most popular favorite color of all men and women, when asked which blue shade is most desirable, men choose green-blue, while women choose a reddish-blue hue. This phenomenon is explained by looking back to when men were the primary hunters and women were the gatherers.
It was necessary to survival for women to have the ability to spot ripe, red berries and fruit to feed themselves and their families. It’s also important for caregivers to recognize red-flushed skin indicating a fever or other condition.
Recently, there has been debate over whether “pink” is actually “real” or not. The controversy stems from the fact that pink doesn’t appear on the rainbow; there is no wavelength of pink light. Remember ROYGBIV?
Pink requires a mix of red and violet, found on opposite sides of the rainbow; as these colors are not side by side, they can’t blend together to create pink. So, where does pink come from? It’s a conundrum.
Although pink is favored by women, the “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” notion is fairly modern.
Until the mid-1800s, baby boys and girls wore white dresses—in part because the white fabric could be bleached. In the 1940s, it was primarily marketers and retailers who decided to dictate colored clothing to gender. According to the trade publication, Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department (1918) blue was deemed “delicate, dainty, and prettier for the girl.”
Pink, as a lighter version of red, was considered a stronger color and more appropriate for boys. The primary shift to “pink for girls” occurred after WWII when America longed for a return to home, family, and domesticity.
In a sense, Rosie the Riveter traded her blue factory uniform for a pink apron. Women embraced their femininity and men loved the security of being home.
Manufacturers and retailers encouraged and complied by producing pink dish soap, lotions and shampoos packaged in pink bottles, and pretty dresses with matching hats in every shade of pink from light rose to coraly-salmon; even furniture became available in pink hues. The pink phenomenon continued to grow as retailers saw green while watching pink items fly off the shelves.
While the color pink is often associated with femininity and innocence, it can also be sophisticated and powerful. In the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli created a fashion sensation with her “Shocking Pink” style. In 1953, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s love of pink decor turned the White House into a “Pink Palace.”
This trend led homemakers across America to choose pink furniture as well as kitchen and laundry appliances for their own homes. Major companies have made this connection and have chosen pink as their signature color. Victorias Secret has a clothing line named PINK.
Mary Kay made history—and millions—when she selected pink as the color to represent her skincare and makeup business. I’ve seen full-page ads for the state of Florida in which the headline reads, “Florida Pink—in shades so beautiful it’s enough to make us blush.” The only color used in the ad was pink.
Vera Wang has Truly Pink perfume; Le Creuset has a line of pink cookware; KitchenAid sells a pink mixer and matching accessories; Uggs has a pink boot line; YETI sells a cooler and matching, “Pretty Pink Tumbler.” Rock star Pink became a phenomenon in the early 2000s with her bright pink hair, and Aerosmith’s hit song, Pink, will always be one of my favorites.
Pink lovers everywhere applauded and fully understood the sentiment when Julia Roberts as Shelby in Steel Magnolias said, “Pink is my signature color.” Pink is also a signature color of Lilly Pulitzer, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, and Barbie.
Audrey Hepburn began her famous quote with the words, “I believe in pink.” The power of pink can’t be ignored. I think pink will always hold an element of femininity, but it also sends the message that you don’t have to be masculine to be powerful.
Fortunately, for those of us who adore pink, the color never goes out of fashion and is universally flattering. The key to wearing pink is to use your skin tone as a guide. Pink skin tones look best in cool, soft pinks such as light rose, ballet, or petal-pink.
Yellow-based tones can wear warmer shades such as salmon, peach, or coral. Bright pinks look great on olive and dark skin. This concept applies to makeup as well as clothing.
In clothing, pink plays well with darker colors like black, brown, gray, and navy because the contrast is appealing. If you want to wear pink but don’t want to look too girly, simply choose a menswear-inspired cut to downplay the girliness. Heavier fabrics of denim, leather, or wool can also give your pink ensemble an edgy vibe.
Pink accessories are perfect for adding just the right pop of pink. Sunglasses, handbags, earrings, shoes, and scarves can give you a modern or sophisticated look. A classic pairing of pink with gray always works, but a daring pairing of pink with orange, red, or teal will show your confidence and savvy sense of style.
I believe loving the color pink isn’t something you decide to do; it’s something you are born feeling.
I know a little girl (besides myself) who at one-year-old became infatuated with the color. “Pink” was one of her first words, she only wanted to color with a pink crayon on pink paper, and she cried to wear a pink dress with her pink Converse sneakers. It was adorable.
I don’t think any other color--in the rainbow or not--sparks such emotion, demands immediate attention, and always makes a statement. Real or not, there is something refined, whimsical, alluring, and irresistible about this pretty, powerful color.