Real Women Wear Pink

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October 15, 2013

“Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed.”

I was approximately four years old when I fell deeply, madly in love. Contrary to what the scribbled hieroglyphics in my diary would have you believe, five-year-old Adam Greenberg and his adorable striped turtlenecks were not the objects of my undying affection.

I’d had crushes before, certainly. Adam and I, for example, had previously shared a very special moment on a sagging plastic couch in our preschool’s playroom. One time, I kissed Warren Steimatzky on the cheek, and I thought Johnny Bravo was so cute! Compared to the transcendent passion I would soon experience, however, these liaisons barely qualified as passing flirtations. Here was an entirely new brand of worship.

I first laid eyes on Princess Aurora’s ball gown at my grandparents’ house in Riverdale. It was Saturday night, and—sure enough—the lights were low. Securing their reputation as more indulgent caregivers than my own parents, Opa and Nana had plied me with crumb cake, strawberries and ice cream earlier that evening. Now, they slipped Sleeping Beauty into their VCR and parked me in front of the television. It was in this kiddie version of Kubla-Khan’s pleasure dome that I encountered it.

One look and I knew: the color pink and I were soul mates.

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The author in her Pink Power Ranger costume, left, and in some sort of monochromatic candy colored confection, right.

I should say that I’d never been much of a “girly girl.” At least, not in the conventional sense. I didn’t care to live in Barbie’s Dreamhouse or Rapunzel’s tower. (Gilded cages! All of them!) I hated glitter and found sequins itchy. I wanted to be Nancy Drew. Disney princesses, on the other hand, were less appealing. It wasn’t that I objected to their inherently sexist narratives or unrealistic storylines. I didn’t begrudge them their lilting voices or ability to communicate with small, squirrely mammals. But unlike so many of my peers, I had no desire to follow in Cinderella’s glass-slippered footsteps. Even then, I was a realist. As a frizzy-haired, tone-deaf toddler, I knew better than to blindly hope for such an unlikely future. Animated royalty was not my destiny.

Besides, I was three-dimensional. And brunette.

But while Aurora’s life and mine diverged in an enchanted wood, her bubblegum-colored wardrobe remained firmly within reach. I may have been young, but this much I understood: A significant other is meant to bring out the best in you. Armed with my already rosy complexion, I set out to make this complementary color my own.

Our romance was ardent, enduring, and borderline obsessive.

The following summer, I wore a lace, pink dress to attend my cousin’s wedding and begged my mother to find shoes that matched. I bemoaned my school’s navy blue uniform and slept in cotton-candy-colored nightgowns. Year after year I blew out an increasing number of candles on pink frosted cakes. I got a salmon-hued leather jacket and a pair of blush high-top sneakers. Even the Jackie-O-inspired suit I would eventually wear to my Bat Mitzvah service was a confectionary, pale pink. In retrospect, it remains among the most gorgeously sophisticated outfits I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Eventually, of course, the spell broke. By the time I started high school, pink seemed suddenly too sweet to take seriously. Sure, “real men” sported it, but could grown-up women? The mere existence of Paris Hilton suggested that: no, they could not.

Gradually, then, I began to experiment with black miniskirts and brown sweaters and fifty shades of grey cashmere. Soon, I fell into an easy uniform of dark, edgy neutrals. I bought a ruby-red cocktail dress and a pair of olive green skinny jeans. Denim was a revelation! So was buttery leather and rich, cobalt blue. Pink — now relegated to delicate lingerie and a lone pair of ballet flats — quickly lived up to its girlish, frivolous reputation.

That is, until last winter.

Marching down the Fall 2013 catwalks of February, a made-over pink resurfaced in spectacular fashion. Dusky, pastel iterations of it graced the runways of Céline, Simone Rochas and Carven. This season, matchmakers at Kenzo and Rochas dressed the color up in mohair and boucle and boiled wool. I spotted it on Vogue.com and Michelle Obama. You probably saw it photographed on the arm — or shoulders — of Hannah Bronfman and Alexa Chung. If you did, you know that it didn’t just look good. It looked strong. No longer the meek rosé of Aurora’s robes or even a riff on Elsa Schiaparelli’s shocking pink, this new hue is somehow steelier. The woman wearing it is one you don’t want to cross. In fact, she’s someone I want to be.

And so like scores of remorseful lovers (and Michael Jackson) before me, I have only this to say: Ooh baby, I want you back.

Images from Vogue.com, The Cut, W Magazine & Vogue Italia

  • http://www.redshoesnoknickers.com/ Red shoes No knickers

    I am feeling ya!
    Pink, somehow, always seemed to seep into my subconscious. Even though I was a tomboy until I was 22 she has been lurking, waiting and now, finally, her time as a bridesmaid is over. Hot pink, soft pink, blush, bright, baby & blazing pink are stepping forwarding and shouting from the rooftops ‘I am finally the bride. Wear me with pride’
    Ps. I’m going for head to toe pink ~ in for a penny….

  • Didi Ramirez

    A couple years back I was told that in early South Korean culture the color pink was reserved only for males. Since then, every time I see the color of pink I feel a sense of strength pulled together by a sense of femininity.

    Balmain pulled it off beautifully! The color choice and structure they chose will make it timeless. As Freddy Mercury said, ” I want it all. And I want it now!!!”

  • http://stylecontext.com/ Style Context

    Pink has always been considered a powerful, strong color. Before pink and blue became gender signifiers, pink was preferable for boys, and blue for girls (blue was considered dainty). Somewhere along the line the colors switched roles. Speaking of which, I have a badass pink leather jacket that looks far from dainty.

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    I’ve come from the opposite direction :-) From avoiding pink to loving it in its stronger versions … It seems to be a power yielding color, I didn’t know that before.

  • C

    I heartily agree! I got married in a (almost hot) pink, a gorgous, silk, grecian style dress that was somehow still modern and comfortable. I felt strong on my wedding day and still love this dress, that I use sparingly. My poor family was a bit shocked about the unconventionality of it but it showed a strong personality and I was very happy wearing it.

    • Leandra Medine

      Oooooh- show us a picture!!

    • AshleyOlivia

      Wait… is this Gwen Stefani writing?! I’ve always thought Gwen would enjoy the Man Repeller blog…

  • http://www.akR-Styles.com/ akR Styles

    I’m just extremely interested in the photo (fb photo) for this post.
    It’s like watching a train wreck.

    What.
    Is.
    That.
    Furry.
    Ensemble?
    This right here —> https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=597321250331207&set=a.129729753757028.22692.128867733843230&type=1&theater

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    I used to love pink and then I hated it for a while and now I am loving it again! I have a pink leather jacket and amazingly enough it is my favorite one to wear!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • http://bespokenabout.blogspot.co.uk/ Angelina S

    Love Pink – but always been a bit weary of wearing it. This seasons shades have gained my interest but I’m not sure if I’m game enough to invest in a pink coat or head to toe pink ensembles. However a lovely shirt or dresses would do just fine!

  • brunetteletters

    I love the effects colors can have on you. When I wear pink I swear I do in fact feel different…

    http://brunettelettersblog.blogspot.com/

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    I love this and I love that it flies in the face of Karl Lagerfeld’s shortsighted, dickly remark, “Think pink but don’t wear it.” Pink is a GORGEOUS color that flatters absolutely everyone. There is no reason not to wear it! I adore pink.One of my most beloved jackets is a pale pink Vivienne Westwood 70’s style blazer with built in waistcoat.You just made this blog even better today!

  • Lauren at adorn la femme

    I dare to wear powder pink because it is so flattering to all skin tones~ and reserve neon pink for accessories, only!

    (=’.’=)

    Lauren at adorn la femme

  • AshleyOlivia

    These runway snaps are gorgeous and almost make me want to give pink a chance. I’ve never liked the color; even when I was a wee lass I preferred blue. (My favorite Disney princess was Belle. I was always disappointed when the Beast turned back into a man at the end. Now that I’m wiser, I realize sex with a Beast has more complications than those facing Edward and Bella on their honeymoon in Rio, but to 6-year old me the furry dog-horse-bear was a much more interesting companion than a boring human male. I’m not sure why I’m sharing this; the original motivation for including my thoughts on Belle was that she wears blue dresses.)

    Flash forward to my mid-twenties, and I only have 2 pink items in my closet: a shirt I’ve never worn and a sweater I can’t seem to make work. As awesome as these pieces look in the accompanying photos, sometimes you have to pass on a trend in recognition of the fact that it just isn’t you in any incarnation… I’ll stick with my navies, taupes, and greens, but high-fives all around to those who are making pink look so badass.

  • http://nicolettemason.blogspot.com nicolette

    good lord does this speak to me.

  • Sarah

    My teenage years were so filled with pink that one teacher once called me the “Pink Riding Hood” (or, because it was in french, Le Chaperon Rose.)
    Pink is king.

    (Also, is it Simone Rocha or Rochas?)

  • Live Raro

    xxx!!!

    See my blog. liveraro.blogspot.com.es to see how to do a boho boots or chanel necklace

  • http://madamecouture.blogspot.com/ Emma Hager

    I never used to like pink up until a few years ago. I guess it might’ve been that whole princess thing that really threw me off. The fact that I was somehow weaker if I wore or liked pink really got to me, and I wasn’t planning on succumbing to anything that would make me feel like less of a champ on the playground or otherwise.
    Now, though, I hope I’m a little wiser in embracing girldom, freedom, opinion, and the color pink. I’d have to agree: pink can look strong — and one reason for this might be the fact that I lost my grandmother to breast cancer just a couple of years back, and she was strong as hell. I started wearing the color after that as a sort of “fuck you” to the thing that had stolen my grandmother and other women in my family. If anything, pink is an incentive or representation of an army for girl power both emotionally and physically.
    (also, Mattie, HOW DO YOU WRITE LIKE THIS. I’m currently working on college app essays and could use a dose of whatever you’ve got. awesome job, as always).

  • Tara

    Love pink, think half my clothes are this colour. The outfits look adorable, really feminine and stylish.

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  • Stéphanie Rousseau

    I don’t know why but pink is not my color and even if it’s trend i can’t convince myself to wear it!
    ByGlam

  • mywhiteT

    I never seen so many outfits in pink that I loved! Great post! mywhiteT.com

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  • http://lucieboshier.tumblr.com/ Lucie Boshier

    OOOooo I love pink. Totally inspiring! Thank you