Pretty in Pink, 1953

Portrait by Thomas Edgar Stevens, White House Historical Society

At the beginning of the twentieth century, fashion advisors warned older women to avoid the color pink.  In a speech called “The Fine Art of Growing Old,” published in Ladies Home Journal in 1903 one such expert warned “A pink waist [blouse] only emphasizes the fact that the apple blossom tints have faded.”  When did it become acceptable for older women to wear pink?  It is hard to tell from old family photographs, since they are rarely in color until after World War II. 

Certainly by the post war era, however, all strictures against pink for those who were no longer young had ended.  Vogue’s imaginary Mrs. Exeter advised her contemporaries to wear pink—and maybe Mamie Eisenhower was listening.  Her first inaugural gown was pink with pink rhinestones.  She wore matching pink gloves and a pink clutch bag.  This started a crazy for “Mamie Pink.”  These days, pink seems to the go-to color for a certain sub-set of older women. 

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6 Responses to Pretty in Pink, 1953

  1. Angela Marmaduke says:

    Bright bubble gum pink might be pushing it – but a gentle pink would be lovely! Funny how those “rules” change over time.

  2. Maguy says:

    Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margrethe were in pink one or two days ago ! And I think I can remember them in bright pink too. Why not ?

  3. Susan says:

    Thanks for reminding me of the “Think Pink” number in the musical Funny Face (1957). You can see it here ( thanks to TCM. It’s few years after Mamie’s pink dress, but a musical fashion show is always fun! (None of the models is over 55, however.)

  4. Lizzie says:

    I have never worn pink, and at 64, I’m not going to start now! But I admire Mamie’s choices. She did a lot to encourage American designers. I DO have a problem with those bangs though!

  5. Lynn says:

    And to think that the bangs started a hair style craze!

  6. JS says:

    The pink is fine. But that hairstyle…

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