If you’re reading this, chances are there’s something pink in your closet. In fact, you might be wearing a pink polo, oxford or Shetland right now, and feeling pretty damn manly doing it.
Do you owe it all to Brooks Brothers?
According to LIFE magazine, Brooks all but invented the color pink — at least for men.
The special shade of pink in Brooks’ oxford-cloth buttondowns is legendary. Turns out it was first produced around 1900, but germinated for 50 years until it blossomed into a sartorial icon.
In the May 2 issue, LIFE declared 1955 “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.