Let’s Talk About... Pink
A$AP Rocky at London Collections Men SS17. Photograph by Mr Christian Vierig/Getty Images
From bubblegum and rose to dusty ochre reds, here’s everything you need to know about the shade of the season.
Few fashion trends, if any, come without an element of transgression. Take socks and sandals. If you’d worn them a few years ago, you would have been treated as the worst kind of pariah. Now, thanks to their reinvention at the hands of Prada, they are the height of style. It seems that only by overstepping social boundaries are we able to push things forward.
Many of these boundaries are quite frivolous, and frankly asking to be stepped over. In the case of pink, however, they are particularly well-entrenched. The colour’s effeminate connotations, which have taken root over decades, mean that many men – especially older guys, who grew up in an era of testosterone-fuelled hypermasculinity – may refuse to wear it simply as a matter of principle.
This is both a folly and a shame: a folly, because the social rules that supposedly make it inappropriate for men to wear pink have never been less relevant than now; a shame, because the spring collections are absolutely full of the stuff, and to reject it out of hand is to miss out on one of this season’s most rewarding trends.
But look, we’re rambling again. You must have all sorts of questions. Do go on.
Help me, MR PORTER. I want to wear pink, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s somehow deeply wrong. Am I normal?
Don’t worry, you’re perfectly normal. You’ve just been brainwashed, that’s all.
Brainwashed? By whom?
By society, of course. Ever since the day you were born and a midwife plopped a blue hat on your head rather than a pink one, you’ve been subconsciously programmed to associate pink with femininity.
Has pink always been associated with girliness?
Not at all. The “pink for girls, blue for boys” gender divide is, in fact, a relatively recent social invention. According to an article in The Atlantic, it was only in the late 19th century, when the childhood development theories of psychoanalysts such as Dr Sigmund Freud began to take hold, that parents started using the colours blue and pink to differentiate their children by sex. At that point, the two colours were used interchangeably. By the mid-20th century, however, for reasons that are unclear, pink had become associated with girls, blue with boys.
Street style at Pitti Uomo, June 2016. Photograph by Mr Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Well, that makes it all seem rather arbitrary.
Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of gender politics.
So, why is pink so prevalent in menswear all of a sudden?
“All of a sudden” isn’t quite accurate. Pink on men wasn’t unheard of before now. A pale pink Oxford shirt has long been considered something of a wardrobe staple, and they’ve been wearing salmon-pink chinos called Nantucket Reds up in Massachusetts for decades. What we’re seeing this season, though, is a far greater range than anything we’ve encountered before. Just take a look at the Trends page. It really is quite something.
Is this all something to do with the shifting concept of gender?
Sure, if you say so. More importantly, though, it’s a nice colour and it looks great.
Pastel pink street style. Photograph by Mr Marc Richardson
Speaking of which, how should I wear it?
The colour palette we’re seeing right now is dominated by pastel pinks, potted-salmon pinks and even dusty ochre reds. New arrival CMMN SWDN puts the pastel shade to good use in denim jackets and camp-collar, short-sleeved shirts, while Bottega Veneta employs a darker shade of pink for its linen suiting. Check out the wide-legged trousers, in particular. Alternatively, if you want to add a little pink as an accent to your look, why not try a pair of pale pink sneakers from Hender Scheme or Filling Pieces?
What do I say to the lads down the pub, though? Won’t they think I look a bit… you know?
Frankly, if that’s your concern, then you could do with finding some new “lads” to hang out with.