It’s amazing that in the 21st century pink clothes are still widely considered to be dubiously effeminate or posh. Given the freedom with which men dress these days it’s incredible that a common colour can remain controversial.
This prejudice is entirely cultural - after all “pink is the navy blue of India”, in the words of American fashion journalist Diana Vreeland. Talking of navy, a soft-pink shirt is perfect worn with a patterned blue tie under a navy suit or blazer but I also like it with a mid-to-pale grey suit. For the kind of look that can arouse class prejudice team a pink shirt with old blue jeans, or inject a dose of ‘ivy style’ with a pale pink polo shirt.
A word about the shade – I favour the colour of weak strawberry milkshakes. But, like most ‘solid’ colours, it works best when it’s the result of the two different shades merging. That’s why my favourite pink shirts are, respectively, one with alternate white and pink vertical Bengal stripes and one with horizontal stripes that feature red, white and pink dots. In both cases the patterns are indistinguishable from any distance – the eye just sees a mild shade of pink.
This year I ordered a new pink shirt from Robert Emmett (as seen above), a successful but low-key London shirt maker. Encouraged by his enviably cosmopolitan salesman Nash Ahmood I went for a shade of pink noticeably more vibrant than I’d normally consider. The resulting made-to-measure shirt is a great fit and it contrasts well with lively shades of navy so it’s perfect for summer weddings. The colour is a bit bright outside of the summer months but I own enough other shirts for that not to trouble me.
Of course, once a man feels comfortable in a pink shirt his affection for the colour can start to generalise – pink chinos, shorts and even sweaters are the next frontier and that’s when the problems really begin.
From £135 at Emmett www.emmettlondon.com
Photographs courtesy of Chloë Lederman