Photo by Salt Water New England

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

What are the Rules for Wearing Pink?

 

A reader question:

Thanks for the site, we enjoy it. I noticed some pics over the last couple months of whom I assume to be your husband wearing pink. I thought at first that they were summer pics but simply posted during the winter season. Then today I saw the new post with a striped pink oxford. For women it’s a fun flourish in winter as you often practice. For men it’s a bit of a faux pas, at least that’s been the general standard of seasonal decorum, since I can remember. Nothing ushers in spring quite like pulling out that pink button-down. If worn, dare I say, out of season, it seems to dilute the distinctiveness of such a staple piece.

I suppose I’m asking - What are the Rules for Wearing Pink?

Thanks and keep up the good work.

41 comments:

  1. I don't wear linen, seersucker or gingham out of season, but it's never occurred to me that a pink shirt would be seasonal at all. I wear mine regularly. Just saw another man at my office in one moments ago, so I don't think it's a widely accepted prohibition.

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  2. My mother was a stickler for that sort of rule but I never heard a word about men wearing pink during winter. Preppy types have never been known for their restraint as it relates to color anyway. I have a pale pink Shetland sweater and used to wear a pink cashmere scarf until the moths got to it. (I was inspired by Claude Erskine-Brown in the Rumpole series. British men are rather freer with pink than we are here -- the pink shirt is a sine qua non for men who work in the City.)

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  3. I have one firm rule about pink: I wear it whenever I like. I had that rule before living in the UK, an experience that strengthened my observance of the rule.

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  4. In general, fashion rules can safely be broken only when you have abided by the rules long enough that it's obvious to everyone that you're well aware of the rules but you just don't care. My advice: don't try it unless you're sure that foundation is firmly in place.

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  5. Wear pink often in any season. Do likewise with gingham shirts. Those are my rules. Today I intend to combine them with pink gingham and khakis.

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  6. I don't look good in pink, and since looking good is the first half of everything, I never wear anything pink. That's MY rule.

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  7. This reader question led me to reflect and consider what clothing-related rules I actually do follow. I have my preferences about things such as styles and makers, etc., but when it comes to foundational rules, I realize I follow only two: Dress for the occasion, and take off your hat when indoors. I seldom wear hats, so the second rule only rarely comes up for me.
    I enjoy wearing my pink Oxford cloth button down shirts any time of year, and plan to acquire a bolder pink brushed Shetland sweater one of these days.

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  8. Got to man up to wear pink & pull off that move. You are taking no prisoners when wearing pink. Same applies when wearing a straight narrow bow tie.

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  9. The rules for pink?

    Our society has a psychological relationship to the color pink that is not found in nature. We have placed a feminine connotation to the color – from the moment the new baby girl is wrapped in her sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice pink blanket. After that, it’s clear which gender this color represents. Oddly, baby blue is for everybody, and becomes gender neutral.

    And like John E,’s above comment, I too never thought of the color as having seasonal boundaries. I think most of us wear pink in the warmer months because it’s more visible, and isn’t covered up by layers of heavier clothing during the winter. Pink is a peacock color that looks best when unobstructed and flaunted in the glorious sunshine.

    When I was young, a girl spotted me in a Brooks Brother pink shirt and said, “You know, it takes a man confident in his masculinity to wear a pink shirt.” I never thought of that at the time, but she was probably right. However, another young lady back then had a less benign opinion and fumed: “I hate to see pink on guys!” Yet over the years, I’d say I’ve encountered a majority of women who love a man wearing pink – as long as it’s not overdone (one must remember that Jay Gatsby was mocked for wearing a too daring pink suit.) So how can one win?

    Today, my wardrobe is seasoned with just a sprinkling of pink – I own a few shirts, and an electric pink Italian tie that I only wear to church on Easter – to either the admiration or chagrin of the congregation.

    Anyway, if you like pink just wear it – you won’t win a trophy, or have rocks thrown at you (I hope).







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    1. Nobody tell Mr. Reichardt about sunsets, or roses, lest it disabuse him of the notion that pink is not found in nature. Also, ironically, given American's perpetual anxiety about gender and gender roles, in the 19th century pink was considered a masculine colour. Baby boys were wrapped in pink, and girls were usually wrapped in blue or white.

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    2. Wow, this is a misinterpretation of my trenchant observations on the subject of pinkness. My logic here was not actually a priori as I’ll try to explain.

      Now, I admit that only a fool (or a blind person) would claim that the color pink is not found in nature. For example, I even recall seeing it once or twice out there myself. Anyway, so what I was trying to point out is that all colors in nature (including pink) are not associated with gender – so neither feminine nor masculine facets are to be found in the spectrum. It’s only our species that assigns these extraneous meanings to colors (red for stop signs, green lights for go, etc.). Does this make sense?

      Excuse me, but I believe I’m going to change into my pink oxford now. Thank you.


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    3. I have to say, I admire the chutzpah of men who deem their own observations "trenchant."

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    4. Yes. And the penalty for breaking the Pink Rule is a week with men who tell us their observations are trenchant.

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  10. Eeek! Hoping this new(?)rule only applies to men. My warmest ski jacket - top of Mt. Washington warm - is pink. It actually has a name as in "it's cold enough for Big Pink today."

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  11. Real men do indeed wear pink—any time, any place. There’s nothing more attractive than a man in a pink OCBD. Pink really is gender neutral.

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  12. Women have a natural tendency to be attracted to the color pink. Ergo, I wear the color as often as I can.

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  13. Pink is a year round color. The only color rule I've ever really heard white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but that's kind of gone by the wayside in recent years.

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  14. Agreed with previous commenters. Wherever, whenever for me. Having a father and grandfather who modeled such OCBD habits has certainly helped yours truly avoid societal hang-ups about colors.

    Kind Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  15. We are not slaves to clothing “rules.” But we do think it best to hold off on shirts of pink, til spring arrives. They lend a celebratory note to those days when, at long last, the pinks (and pastels) are brought out, cleaned and pressed.

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  16. I'm sorry, on what planet, exactly, is wearing pink at any time of the year "a bit of a faux pas," or a matter of "decorum?" Come on, folks, seriously. Where do these beetle-browed amateur sartorialists get this absurd rules, which would be draconian if they were actually even real rules? They're not; they're utter codswallop.

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    1. I was looking for an alternative to sh** for a grandson. I wonder if I can get him to use codswallop. At least when he is with me, maybe. Excellent word.

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    2. Maybe so, but I like my cod with a little tartan sauce.

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    3. CORRECTION: That should read "tartar sauce" and not "tartan sauce" (unless the fish comes from Scotland.)

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  17. Pink always looks good on women and never looks good on men. Knowing that, decide for yourselves. By the way, that also applies to yellow. There are two correct colors for men's shirts: white and blue, and white looks better.

    Old Bostonian

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    1. What a grim, claustrophobic view. I'd say it's a bit silly, but mostly I'm just sorry for everything you've missed, and will continue to miss, about what looks good on both men and women.

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    2. Precisely why "preppy" style is anything but traditional.

      Old Bostonian.

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    3. It may depend on the saturation of the color but I've never seen anyone who didn't look good in pink. It brightens or highlights the skin.

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  18. If you really want to hear about decorum, watch Douglas Neidermeyer stating charges against the Deltas; and his opponent Eric Stratton answering the charges in his pink OCBD. Rules?! Slow news day.

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    1. And that's not even bothering about a pledge pin (on your uniform).

      Kind Regards,

      Heinz-Ulrich

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  19. Whilst it isn't my favourite colour, I do wear pops of pink (or its cousins, magenta and lilac) some of the time, especially as a boost during sombre and dreary days, no matter the season. I just don't want to overdo pink or else I would look garish. That there should be rules about wearing pink is poppycock!

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  20. Coming back from shoveling snow with a pink oxford under a wool sweater, isn't a pink shirt a classic staple akin to light blue?

    And before anyone brings up that most of shirts short of collar tend to be hidden under sweaters during winter, when I take off my warmest coats I tend to only wear an oxford shirt underneath and having a pink one does not make me feel like a light house indoors.
    All I remember hearing along the years is that the colour can make rosy cheeks that are perfectly normal during cold winters appear even brighter and make your face look flushed. Counterpoint to that is that pink brings up a little liveliness to our winter complexion that we call around here roughly translated "captain of the limestone ship".

    So I don't find pink associated with warmer weather but the light yellow oxford stays in closet until spring. Now there is a color which people have strong opinions about.

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  21. Pink OCBD = All day everyday

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  22. Classic style truly follows it own path!

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  23. I am amused by some of the views expressed because this excellent blog tends to favor preppy attire. No prep would limit their wardrobe to white and light blue shirts. I was subjected to the prep experience and while there never witnessed any solid pastels other than pale blue, pink, yellow, and ecru. I encountered my first pale green and lilac shirts many years later in Texas (not at my place of work but on others, out and about). I observed a Bostonian expressing a rule limiting choices to white and pale blue with a preference for white. I only wear white for evening wear and for particularly somber funerals and stuffy weddings. The Navy taught me to dislike starched white broadcloth. If I could have but one shirt it would probably be a pink and white uni stripe, and it would never know starch. My pale blues and solid pinks are barely acquainted with the iron!

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  24. I don't see pink as seasonal. The fabric it's made of is, to me, but not the color. I've got cashmere and wool in delicious pinks, and seersucker and poplin in pinks as well. --Holly in PA

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  25. I'm told I look good in pink by various women I trust, so I have sweaters, OCBDs a pair of shorts and pink-patterned wool, cotton shirts. No pink long pants, belts or socks though....

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  26. I love pink clothes because pink is so pretty and so cheerful. It makes me happy to see pink worn by both men and women, whatever the season. (Unfortunately, I wear mostly black due to being too short for my weight.) But I do love splashes of happy colors.

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    1. Life is too short to wear black all the time. My grandmother was a big woman (in height and weight) and she wore the most interesting clothes in gorgeous colors. She said she knew she "should" wear black but didn't want to look like one of the aging peasant women in "The Godfather" the rest of her life. :)

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    2. Ha ha! Agreed. How drab. I always add a splash of bold color.

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  27. I wold not wear shorts or a funny tie to a funeral. A comprehensive list of the clothing rules I follow.

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    1. To me, dressing is 'art'. I'm considered eccentric and electic. But I'm with you - when it comes to weddings and funerals, it's about respect and honor and absolutely not the time to show off my creativity. For those occasions, in the back of my closet I have several classic outfits. If I were to wear them any other time I'd feel boring and frumpy. Unfortunately, the past few years I've had to get these clothes out way too much - and not for weddings.

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