Menswear Friday – Men in Pink

posted in: Colour Analysis, Style advice | 21

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like pink.



I enjoy wearing pink, and it makes me feel good. Although it is the ultimate “feminine” colour it has some properties that can make it a very flattering choice for both men and women.

Pale skinned people show the blood beneath their skin, especially when they are energised, excited or happy. We flush with pleasure and get a peachy glow after vigorous exercise. Young children have rosy cheeks, full pink lips and plump skin. Unfortunately, as we age our skin begins to look duller as a result of poorer health and circulation – we get dark circles, pasty skin and age spots. Many women, and a few men, will rectify this natural fade with makeup – especially using rouge and lipstick to bring the colour back into their faces. I have nothing again a dollop of blusher or lipstick, but wearing pink, especially near the face, will generally have a similar effect of making your skin look brighter and fresher. But instead of wearing make up you can wear pink (which is generally more socially acceptable, especially for men).

The key thing with pink, like any colour, is to get the right shade for you. I explain how to do this here. Because my colouring is cool I need to avoid the warm peachy pinks (which I love, by the way) and stick with bluer shades.

Pink works its magic on men too, although many men steer well clear of it, feeling it has girly implications. But just as women look more feminine in masculine clothes, men can look more masculine by a carefully judged use of pink. Women are often attracted to pink and like to see it on men, especially if it is a little unexpected and different.

And I have shown three suits above (although two of them are notionally from the 1930s) – although this may look a bit full on it makes a change from the M&S stone light weight suit many men choose for summer weddings and special occasions. Pink is popular for casual wear – a nice pink jumper or polo shirt with jeans, dark trousers or summer shorts can look very cool. On holiday this summer I noticed how lots of men wear pink, peachy shades and light reds on holiday – the only time men can really let their hair down and express themselves.

However I really want to recommend pink for work, especially the pink shirt or tie. It is a great, and subtle, way to look younger and fresher, and to indicate approachability.  Pink always goes with grey and navy, but also works well with lighter shades like this pinkish beige.

The Pink Shirt
The Pink Shirt

I am sure you know what white collar jobs and blue collar jobs are (office jobs versus manual jobs). Have you heard of pink collar workplaces? There are a range of definitions of what this means but it can include female dominated industries, or more generally the service industries. I work in a female dominated industry – social housing – but I wouldn’t want to call it a pink collar workplace. But I do think men who have lots of women reporting to them, or in more diverse workplaces, may find pink a good colour for shirts, ties or handkerchiefs.

So a few pointers if you have been thinking of breaking out of the white/blue/grey wardrobe many men are trapped in. For men colour in general is a bit scary – but pink can be subtle and beautiful and

  • Get the right shade of pink to flatter your complexion
  • If you are dark skinned you can get away with a strong contrast eg very light pink with deep charcoal, and also the deeper pinks. White men generally look better in the lighter pinks, with less contrast.
  • A very light pink shirt will look like a white one but will lend a little glow to the skin.
  • One pink item is usually better than head to toe, unless you are a dramatic dresser and in a creative industry.
  • A pink shirt is still a little bit non-traditional, so if your workplace is old school keep all the other elements very sober
  • A pink tie can be very classy so long as the item looks expensive and is made from silk or other beautiful natural fibre.
  • Pink accessories can add just a little interest or shock value eg pink socks, or a bright pink handkerchief. But never go for the comedy look eg pink pigs or hippos etc.

And finally here is a beautiful 1955 pattern, reknitted in the 1980s, in a delicious shade of peachy-beige. My husband has asked for exactly this jumper, but in cashmere. Honestly! He overestimates me…

1955 Vogue mens jersey in pink
1955 Mens jersey from the Vogue Knitting book

21 Responses

  1. Michele

    Kate, I always enjoy reading your blog, it’s always well thought out and thought provoking. Naah your husband just has every faith in you.

  2. Annieloveslinen

    Good post, having a sallow skin tone I don’t wear pink, it holds no appeal for me. I like to see it on men as it’s uncommon because of its feminine connotations.

    Love that you’re getting knitting requests.

  3. Yoric

    I like a bit of pink! A pink shirt is a must in my book, and there’s a company called Pink that make ace shirts!! I also like Tyrwhitt’s and Brook Taverner!! 🙂

  4. eimear

    Pink suits you so well – I had been avoiding wearing pink for the last few years as my previously mild rosecea turned extreme (howver it seems to have ‘settled’ back now) – I used love deep pinks, fushia and cerise, and have some still in stash….. I am unsure still what pink to wear with my greying hair, but after having a look at your link page, I am also thinking it would be worth using some pink accents in my sewing……

    • fabrickated

      From what I can tell your colouring is similar to mine, only maybe a bit deeper. I have had clients with rosacea, broken veins, and high colouring and the right shades can really calm it down. It is remarkable.

  5. Stephanie

    You could make the cashmere jumper. I find at least over here that the yarn is expensive so it would likely be a very pricey knit (which is interesting to ponder in a context of all of the cheap and problematic cashmere from places like China around in recent years). I met a lady in Italy raising cashmere goats in Tuscany, who was selling each 25g ball of her gorgeous yarn for 50 Euro maybe five years ago.

    • fabrickated

      I have found some nice natural white cashmere from a company that sells remainder yarns from knitwear factories. Even so a man’s jumpers worth of DK cashmere would be about US $160, which is rather alot as I don’t know if I could make it nicely enough, and I am not certain he would actually wear it (which would break my heart, as well as the bank).

  6. kathryn

    You know I share your love of pink, all those different shades you wear are gorgeous! I think the history and gender coding of colours, and pink in particular, is really interesting. I always remember reading somewhere that in Victorian times pink was for boys, blue for girls. I think the reason given was that at the time pink, because it comes from red, was seen as a stronger colour. Let’s not get into why that would then be more masculine argh!!
    It would be nice if society as a whole could get past the whole gender coding of pink and blue wouldn’t it?!
    I’ve been making quite a few pink skirts/shorts recently, you’re making me think a pink top needs to be up top of my sewing list now.

    • fabrickated

      The history of pink is so interesting, isn’t it? And while I completely agree that gender stereotypes are so boring and limiting I quite like transgressing them. At one level an absence of colour is the required workplace rule (grey, grey-blue, navy, black) and this means I want to wear white, silver, green, bright blue and pink, red trousers etc. I also like to wear masculine clothes from time to time too.

      Pink shorts are delicious. Personally I like to wear pink with pink but it goes with most things so long as you get the depth of colour right.

  7. Lynn Mally

    I don’t wear pink, but I do love orange. It’s another color that raises passionate responses, although for different reasons. BTW, I have read that pink originally was for boys because it was a softer color of red, associated with the god Mars. And little girls got blue because of the cloak of the Virgin Mary. But like Kathryn, I wish we could leave all this behind.

    • fabrickated

      Yes! I am sure your orange is the same as my pink Lynn. Certainly the shocking pinks and strong pinks have the same effect for me. I wear red (but not orange) but I like it less. Pink is the colour missing from the rainbow – I think it is there but it isn’t officially.

  8. ceci

    What attractive men, not to mention you, Kate, in your pink. I used to wear a lot of strong pinks when my hair was red; now that it is sort of yellow/tan/grey I’m a bit less sure color-wise. Need to devote a bit of time to figuring this out as I miss wearing pink.


    • fabrickated

      Yes – I loved all the men in the pictures, and both pink and yellow make me feel happy. I think I associate both shades with summer flowers. Is your hair naturally red? Is it auburn or copper?

  9. Giorgia

    I really love all your posts that talk about colour! As you know I’m finding the subject more and more fascinating and, as a girl who has never liked pink because of the silly prejudices associated with it, but also as a woman struggling with an olive-hued complexion … I only recently realised how much I have missed out.

    I can also see how the choice of pink can flatter men, who rarely rely on makeup. I will keep this in mind next time I go shopping for myself or my partner!

  10. Rachael

    Very interesting post. I remember my step-son going through a brief phase when he was about 3 when he absolutely loved pink, so much so, that he insisted on trying on a hideous nylon pink fairy fancy-dress costume in TK Maxx. He loved it so much that I bought it for him that Christmas, although I don’t think he ever actually wore it. Sadly it was a very brief phase and shortly after pink was definitely “for girls”. It’s a shame as it really suited him.

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