Traditionally Pink

When adding colour to a gentleman's wardrobe, modern sentiment is somewhat predictable. An abundance of blue hues enough to run the entire gamut; prevalent so much in that it ceases to be an accent. Red and its fully-pigmented derivatives for the emboldened and brash. Seldom seen are yellows and - to a greater extent - orange. Greens, tans, and browns round out a full array of earth tones. And, almost invariably, purple and lavender to express the out-of-the-comfort zone softer tints.

No wardrobe colour creates such divisiveness, amongst men, however, as pink.

When perceived solely as a feminine hue, pink becomes challenging for many men to accommodate. In this light, pink is reserved for the boldest and most confident of dressers and best left to such experts. The marginal complexity hardly seems worth it.

History, however, suggests a much different impression, and it's a history far more recent than you may believe.

Traditionally, pink has been a male-associated colour. A derivative of red and thus evoking war, fire, and passion, pink evoked an air of masculinity and was more acceptable for men than that of the dantier blue.

It wasn't until men returned home from World War II that blue and pink were co-opted by marketing departments in an effort to move more gender-specific product to parents and, thus, altering how we see these colours today.

While certainly more prevalent in sport shirting, casual wear and knit tops, pink remains an impeccably practical option for suiting and dressier outfits. Bolder pinks tend nicely toward navy and blue, and respond to contrasting with burgundy, maroon and bordeaux; ties and pocket squares are an ideal source for such juxtapositions.

A pale shade of pink - its most useful incarnation - provides a perfect foil for grey suiting and jackets, and adds a subtle hint of colour and depth to otherwise monochromatic outfits. Black knit or subtle black-and-white patterned ties play a perfect complement to such pairings.

Pale pink also creates a witty basis for more colourful efforts, partnering naturally with browns and contrasting nattily with greens. I'm especially partial to pale pink and olive green, which I exploit with sport jackets, British khaki chinos, barn coats and canvas trucker jackets.

Pink need not be limited to novelty nor sartorial expertise; such a practical and storied colour breaks up the mundane and offers true variety the male wardrobe.

Ryan W.A. Clark

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