Are you man enough to wear pink?

Are you man enough to wear pink?

Thanks to Alfred Tong from The Telegraph for this headline….it works for this blog and I couldn’t top it!  Thoughts about the color choice men make in their clothing across cultures have been swirling around my head for a while now.  On a recent trip to Bali I observed at the hotel a large group of Indonesian men and women attending a conference.  All the men were wearing the most gorgeously printed batik shirts in bright colors and outrageous patterns, according to western standards for menswear – very flamboyant for a conference!  This isn’t particularly unusual though for men in non western cultures… to dress colourfully.

Is this to do with the tropics? Or does western culture’s predilection for neutral tones, and its association of colour with the feminine by contrast make them just look ‘more colourful’?

Why is colour associated with the feminine?  Pink, for example, was not always associated with ‘girly’. "In the 18th century, it was perfectly masculine for a man to wear a pink silk suit with floral embroidery," says fashion scholar Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute Technology and author of several books on fashion.[1]Pink was considered a lighter shade of red, and red was seen as warlike and therefore masculine.  Apparently,  even working class males comfortably wore pink in the 1920’s. Furthermore, babies were frequently dressed indiscriminate of gender in either pink or blue in the 18th century - pink was associated with children, as opposed to adults.  In fact, we have the advent of marketing pink as a girl’s colour around the 1950’s to thank for the rise in its associated girliness.  However, the idea that you could be ‘a bit on the girly side’ if you wore a vibrant pink shirt, or even a flamboyant one, still exists in many areas of Australia, but less so.  Nowadays, pink is seen frequently on men in fashion and in some workplaces, sometimes for campaigns such as the breast cancer one, and sometimes it feels like its being worn as a kind of statement….I’m a feminist’….I’m not influenced by gendered ideas…. but increasingly younger generations of males choose to wear pink just coz!  And hooray to that! 

1 Pink wasn’t always girly.  Anna Broadway, August 12th 2013, The Atlantic.



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