There are two colours most commonly associated with the sex of a baby. Let us guess — before we even went into specifics, those two shades immediately popped into the front of your mind.
Pink and blue — are we right?
From gender reveals to aisles at your local kids’ retailer, we’re guessing you’ve seen an overflow of these two stereotypical baby colours. In fact, you may have found yourself questioning “Why is it pink for a girl and blue for a boy?”
The history behind it is a bit more complicated than that; it dates back over a century. It’s less about boy colours vs girl colours — in fact, the concept of colour as a signifier of gender was only introduced in the 20th century. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
For centuries, most parents would dress their children in white. Cue horrified gasps from any parents reading this article, and an immediate search for Napisan. According to Britannica, white clothing was popular as it could be easily bleached; it was a matter of practicality.
Then, come the mid-19th century, pastels arrived as colours for babies — including pink and blue, but not exclusively. Fast forward to 1918, and the concept of blue and pink as a signifier of a child’s sex was born (excuse the pun). Except, in a surprising twist — and subversive one, looking at it over 100 years later — pink was for boys and blue for girls.
Why? According to the Smithsonian Magazine, quoting a trade publication from the time, “The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger colour, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.” Retailers in the United States jumped on board, advising parents to dress their boys in the pink — all throughout the 1920s.
It was the 1940s when this trend really swapped — pink became a girls colour, and blue, a boys one. It took a dip in the 60s and 70s — the women’s liberation brought a rise in gender neutral colours and fashions. As for the 1980s? Prenatal testing brought the stereotypical baby colours back; retailers jumped on board with gendered merchandise.
And 40 years on, we’re seeing a change — retailers across the US are slowly, quietly, shifting to gender-neutral baby clothes, according to Vox. In fact, here at Sheridan, we’re also bucking the trend of stereotypical colours for babies.
Our favourite gender-neutral colours for babies? Think playful peach and my first monochrome. Across our latest season of baby offerings, we’re seeing shades of sunset contrast with graphic tones. Just because it has the word “neutral” in it, doesn’t mean it’s boring. Our chosen palette for babies is anything but.