I think it would be fair to say I’ve always had a fairly extreme reaction to the colour pink.
When I was little I was the (literal) kid in the (proverbial) candy store when I was allowed to decorate my bedroom. I made a beeline for the pink-and-white striped wallpaper, curtains, soft furnishings and, (after a huge amount of pleading on my part) nabbed a canopy that hung above my bed in wafts of pink muslin (my parents sweetly indulging my desire for all things rosy). I think they drew the line at a pink carpet as being too expensive and perhaps trying to avoid the impression of re-entry into the womb, the pink bedside lamp already emitting a foetally-warm-fuzzy glow.
Fast-forward 15 years and I find myself lying on the floor in a voice class at drama school. Now, drama schools have the (only slightly unfair) reputation of employing eccentric training and techniques in the pursuit of great art, don’t they? The plaintive questioning of the uninitiated- “Do you really have to ‘be a tree’?” they ask; “Do you get asked to ‘move like purple would’?”
The latter is undeniably close to what was happening that cold morning on the studio floor. Our voice tutor was getting us to explore our range (or something, the details of the exercise have faded somewhat) and was guiding us through colours for us to ‘explore them, physically, emotionally and verbally’ (I shit you not, I paid huge quantities of money for that training. Well my parents did. Like I said, indulgent).
When we got around to pink, I was only vaguely aware of how others were reacting, but mainly registered cooing murmurs and gentle rocking, clearly all being sent right back to that safe place of childhood and candy-canes. I on the other hand- well, I started bellowing and spasming and had to take myself off to the toilet to calm down after the class was over. Weird.
So yes, I’ve always had a fairly extreme reaction to the colour pink. Which is probably why I haven’t worn it for a while (after the voice class episode I even banished my pink pencil case, deeming it too traumatic. Dark days).
And this is even before considering what society tells us pink is, and, by association, what pink-wearers are. It’s been invaded with Barbie connotations- fluffy, girly, lightweight. It’s cute and pretty and unconfrontational and it’s not something you’d necessarily wrap about your person if you felt like being taken seriously. This all frankly puts me off even more than the surreal deep-seated emotional issues.
But as the brilliant and clever Leandra Medine of Man Repeller put it when she was challenged to dress in a weeks-worth of pink by J Crew (who, incidentally do have some of the best pink clothes on the high street) “The more you think about a piece of clothing’s implications, the more likely you are to accidentally feed into them.” Her advice is not to overthink it. At the risk of having already overthunk, I’ve decided it’s time to reclaim the colour because it’s exactly that- just another colour to play with, to mix, match and clash with others.
You are categorically not feeding into any implications when you put it with red, for example. No blushing wallflowers here, thank you very much. Pink and red look marvellous because they’re variations on a theme, like a juicy fruit bowl of watermelons and strawberries. It looks great with denim too, giving an unexpected, jovial punch-in-the-face (friendly, mind) to an otherwise basic outfit.
Don’t even talk to me about the choice of shades you can choose from, each one deploying a totally different message depending on how and when you choose to wear them. The sophisticated blush-nude, perhaps silk, perhaps a trouser suit, is just ridiculously chic while screaming ‘I don’t do public transport’. Nothing girly here, this is a full-throttle, take-no-prisoners, all-grown-up list of clichés. (M&S have a fabulous pink velvet suit in at the moment, just find a chaise longue on which to drape yourself.)
Magenta and cerise have clout because they’re rich jewel tones, but manage a fun, ever-so-slightly-bonkers edge you’re not necessarily going to get in, say, deep indigo or dark green. They too look magnificent in suit form (God, get me to a tailor, I’ve suiting on the brain!) and the aforementioned J Crew is where it’s at for this.
I myself have taken the bull by the horns recently and have invested quite heavily in bubble-gum pink, of all shades. Warmer and zingier than cream or white and gentler than bright red or yellow, it’s surprisingly flattering on the rather pallid winter complexion, as well as a soothing balm on a sad winter soul. In jumper form, this happy colour warms your outlook as well as your body. Nothing can be sinister or truly bad in pink (whatever the voice teacher now thinks of me) and it can’t be a coincidence that it lends its name to describing ‘the best condition or degree’ – as such, these pink outfits are truly in the pink!