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15th Mar 2024

Did you know that pink was once traditionally a boy’s colour?

Anna Martin

pink or blue

Stereotypically, we dress girls in pink and boys in blue

When we think pink we think of Barbie’s Dreamhouse, the walls of every movie daughter’s bedroom, and of course dresses.

Yet it wasn’t always this way, in fact, the shade used to be the preferred colour to dress little boys in.

Ladies Home Journal article from 1890 advised: “Pure white is used for all babies. Blue is for girls, and pink is for boys when a colour is wished.”

Another 1918 article from the trade publication Earnshaw’s Infants’ Department offers a similar view, which read: “The generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl.”

Credit: Getty

The idea behind this was that pink was a stronger colour, so therefore boys should be the ones to wear it while blue is more delicate so it was for girls.

So, how did things get flipped so that the opposite is now expected? Well, the answer just isn’t clear.

Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology, believes that the purchase of two 18th-century paintings by American millionaire, Henry Huntington, started turning the tide in favour of pink being a girl’s colour.

The Blue Boy depicted a boy dressed in blue, and Pink showed a girl dressed in pink.

Huntington’s purchase was all over the American press, she explained in an interview with CNN.

People started thinking that for hundreds of years, things had been misinterpreted, but this wasn’t true, according to Valerie.

“If you look back, little boys in the 18th century wore blue and pink, and grown-up men wore blue and pink, and ladies and little girls wore blue and pink,” she said.

Though just a theory it seems that it was all down to one man and two paintings.

At the end of the day, they’re just colours and you can wear whatever you’d like.