My Complicated Relationship With the Color Pink (Or, How To Wear the Girliest Color In the Game)

The idea that women can’t wear or like pink just because of how the color has been marketed fills my mouth with regurgitated spit.
Publish date:
November 20, 2012

My closet is filled with reminders I am not a very self-aware person. Or, more accurately, not a very self-aware shopper.

I know women whose closets are perfectly curated boutiques of their personal style. They would never buy something that didn’t fit within the strict style parameters they have somehow managed to design for themselves (presumably while I was out buying a pair of red jeans I would wear all of none times).

I am not one of those women. And my closet is so clearly not the closet that belongs to one of those women. Instead of items that scream “Me,” my closet has items that scream, “Girl Who Thought Buying a Leather Bustier at 3am Was a Good Idea!”

If I were a different kind of lady, a bit more self-aware, a bit more refined in their shopping abilities, I would not own this hot pink sweater that has haunted me for nearly two years.

I want to make it very clear right off the bat that I am not anti-pink. I mean, Gala had pink hair and managed to look both completely badass and lovely. The idea that women can’t wear or like pink just because of how the color has been marketed fills my mouth with regurgitated spit.

It’s just that whenever I wear this sweater, I feel like myself -- but a version of myself that has had four packets of Equal poured into it. I normally wear a palette of black and varying shades of black, so the bubblegum pink sweater feels a bit too saccharine for my taste, like I’m celebrating Wednesdays with The Plastics or something.

I was cleaning out my closet recently, organizing it into tidy little “Keep” and “Give Away” piles when I came across that pink sweater. The tag had not even been removed. It was a tiny paper reminder that I -- yet again -- wasted money on an item I would never wear outside of a dressing room. So, I gave myself a challenge to de-Barbie-fy the sweater. To be honest, it wasn’t easy. I still felt like Fall Barbie after putting together the first few outfits, but, after getting a bit more creative, I’m feelin’ purty satisfied with the results. Well done, Michelle. Well done. (Thanks, Michelle.)

Layer It On

I think the reason I had such a hard time at first is that the sweater still felt like the focal point of the outfit. So, for my first outfit, I tried to hide the sweater with layers upon layers upon layers. Luckily, the temperatures just keep on a dippin’ outside, so this outfit feels seasonably appropriate. Layering on-trend jackets (like this varsity one I got on eBay and am deeply in love with) and scarves over the hot pink sweater make your outfit not so, “Hold up while I put on sunglasses to look at you.”

Add Prints

At first, I went for a leopard print skirt, but it didn’t really work for the “pink, but not deeply girly” look that I was hoping to achieve. So, instead I went for plaid. I didn’t think it would work, but I’m actually happy with how it came out. The prints help to offset the attention-seeking pink and bring the focal point somewhere else.

Avoid All That Glitters

I love glittery statement necklaces. I love glittery nail polish, despite how goddamn long it takes to get off. I also love pink lipstick and wear it on the reg. But paired with this sweater, those items just felt too Pretty Pretty Princess (no offense to Pretty Pretty Princess, however, because that is a dope game and I am down to play it literally whenever).

Add Menswear or Utilitarian Inspired Elements

Camo jacket purchased for 70% off at J.Crew three years ago, and you’ve done it again! Think of pieces that will immediately create a dichotomy against the pink: Oxfords, blazers, utilitarian jackets. I didn’t think there was anything I could do to make this sweater not seem so Pepto-Bismol, but contrasting it against sturdier pieces really did the trick.

Add Texture (By Which I Mean “Add Leather”)

Nothing says “Call me a Barbie doll and I’ll blow your freakin’ brains out” like leather. Especially when it’s in a cute, fitted vest form was purchased at Topshop! Intimidating! For serious, the contrast between the leather and the pink works, without seeming too affected.

All pictures taken by my really talented roommate Kait Robinson.