Today there’s multiple news in the world of pink, and so we’re revisiting — and reworking — this post that originally ran in 2009. Back then we examined a LIFE Magazine piece from 1955, when the Ivy heyday was just getting started, that all but credited Brooks Brothers with inventing the color pink — at least for men.
In the May 2 issue, LIFE ran a piece called “The Peak Year for Pink,” writing:
The color that women have traditionally appropriated from babyhood has taken a turn in the other direction. Across the U.S. a pink peak in male clothing has been reached as manufacturers have saturated more and more of their output with the pretty pastel. Against the charcoal gray with which it is usually worn, pink is shown here in almost everything short of a trench coat — even in a golf jacket and a dinner jacket. Now more of a staple than a luxury, the color is even acceptable to teen-age boys.
Like most male fashions, including the Ivy League Look, this pink hue and cry has taken some time to develop. Sole responsibility lies with New York’s Brooks Brothers, whose pink shirt, introduced in 1900 but long unnoticed, was publicized for college girls in 1949 and caught on for men too. Already being copied in clothes by such rival bon-bon colors as light green and lavender, pink is heading into home furnishings.
And now here we are in 2018 with the press once again filling column inches on a supposed pink trend. This time it’s an article entitled “Real men wear pink (and not just Brooks Brothers buttondowns” that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.
Today, bold guys are reclaiming the color’s more gender-neutral roots. Across pop culture, men like John Legend and Wes Anderson are going beyond the classic pink oxford shirt—a Brooks Brothers staple since the early 1900s and a ubiquitously safe way for men to wear the color—to flaunt pieces from bright pink ties to full pink suits. At this year’s Australian Open, athletes including Rafael Nadal wore hot pink Nike gear designed to project aggression. As Sam Shipley, apparel design director for Nike Court, put it, “We talked a lot about driving energy through confidence in pink.”
Yes, well gender-neutral preppies (remember the androgyny sections in “The Official Preppy Handbook” and Nelson Aldrich, Jr.’s 1979 Atlantic cover story) have been doing that for quite some time.
In other pink news today, Molly Ringwald has a piece in The New Yorker looking back the ’80s John Hughes movies that made her famous, including “Pretty In Pink.” The piece is worth a read for those of you, like me, who came of age in the ’80s.
Finally, it’s National Tartan Day, and Black Watch looks rather fetching with pink. For all your tartan needs year ’round (at least for your home), shout out to our kind sponsor Scot Meacham Wood. — CC