E.J. Topper’s “Colorful Thoughts” – Pink
Too pink or not too pink? That is the question. Some men have an irrational terror of the very thought of pink. The time has come to face down the fears and to challenge this disinclination. Being in the pink can be great. And with a little thought and some of Topper’s top tips, you too can enjoy a life that’s rosy.
Topper’s own view is simple: “To anyone who says ‘real men don’t wear pink’ I have two responses – David Beckham and Robert Downey Junior. These two very real men, and millions of others, clearly have a swell time in pink. So what’s the point of missing out on a whole new horizon of fashion possibilities? Follow my simple, practical advice and you can quickly master pink, recognizing it as a great color for stylish celebration.”
As ever with a new departure in color, applying a little thought can make a lot of positive difference. Here’s how Topper thinks pink, the do’s and, crucially, the don’ts.
Think Pink #1 – “The Shrimp Cocktail”
The seafood buffet may be the biggest draw at the country club brunch, but its color palette is best shown off by the fruits de mer rather than the diners! Topper says: “Being in the pink is not about looking like a shrimp cocktail, still less a side of salmon. For pink beginners, blink and you might miss it is far preferable to in your face. So try out with socks or a tie, or even some pink shoelaces in old sneakers for downtime, or with glossy black brogues for subtle fun. A little restrained blushing beats total crushing any day.”
Think Pink #2 – At The Going Down of the Sun
Some of Topper’s fondest memories are of sundowners sipped on a tropical shore as the sun dips below the horizon: “Nature puts on some of her most spectacular shows at dusk. Crimsons, flame reds, vermillion, orange and, of course, pink all blended across the sky in Technicolor. Just magnificent. And if you want to reproduce the effect with your wardrobe, I only have one word of advice: don’t. Just take it easy with the pyrotechnics. A single statement piece is almost always more effective than overload.”
Think Pink #3 – Fadey In Red
There’s a close relationship between the success of your color choices and your own natural skin tones. Topper explains: “At the paler, more pastel, end of the pink spectrum there are some delightful shades that hint at the merest note of color. But, not to be negative, if you are pale to start with there is a risk that overdoing the understatement can result in looking like a fast fading photograph. Don’t disappear from your own picture. There are circumstances where bold is definitely best.”
Sinking the Pink – Topper’s Top Tips for Keeping it Rosy
There is simply no need to be fearful of pink. Quite the opposite in fact. Thinking pink opens doors to a wide range of great looks that can be transformational in formal settings and super-relaxing when you want to kick back. As ever, the best starting point is Topper’s Top Tips.
Top Tip 1 – “The Flamingo”
If your build inclines more toward the tall and slender end of the body type spectrum, it makes sense to take care with any choice of pink pants, as confirmed by one of Topper’s most treasured anecdotes: “Some years ago I was with dear friends in southern Africa, watching the birdlife on the lagoon beyond their veranda. Somebody pointed out the way a particularly tame “flamingo” kept moving towards the house. Turned out he was our host’s tall and lanky brother, in tight pink pants.”
Top Tip 2 – “The Salmon Blini”
In theory, purple will contrast well with green and orange. But Topper’s years of experience make him a tad skeptical: “Purple, orange and green can end up looking like a bonbon tray at a fancy reception. Color theory can only take you so far. In reality, you need to feel comfortable in your own clothes. Departing too far from our own instinctive tastes can risk undermining confidence and that’s the last thing we want from a new outfit. So be careful when combining the colors!”
Top Tip 3 – “The Rose Garden”
One of Topper’s favorite annual treats is his week on the sub-tropical island of Madeira. Once there each early Summer, he particularly enjoys the magnificent rose garden at his upscale hotel, not least because it offers an object lesson in how to wear pink: “Nature shows us there is never just one color – pink can be cerise, magenta, salmon, shocking, almost as dark as plum or nearly none. But never all on one single flower. And NEVER all combined in one single outfit!”
Living La Vie en Rose
The last emotion pink should inspire in a discerning gentleman is fear. Pink is there to be embraced and enjoyed, perhaps cautiously at first but then with growing confidence and enthusiasm. Pink ties are a great way in, or start with socks and graduate to a tie. Get comfortable with those steps and a pink pullover or polo is a logical next step. Pink, black and white combine well and a pink shirt can really take formal wear to a new level, providing you’re comfortable and confident with it.
Pink is a product of red and white, so those are two natural matching colors – in fact, a pink necktie can be the ‘bridge’ between a crisp white shirt and a bold sport coat in red. Pink, dark blue and gray also work harmoniously. Then comes the big hurdle for many men: pink pants. A bridge too far? Or a confident statement? It’s all in the fit and the match.
What can you do today to start living in pink? Buy a pink tie and learn the distinctive ‘tulip knot’ – takes a little time but it will be a talking point, in a good way, wherever you go. Pair a pink dress shirt or tee with denim and a brown plaited belt. Or why not try a plain pink shirt with a check sport coat?
For downtime, pink is just fine with plain navy blue shorts. Or reverse that and go plain on top with pink shorts – a halfway house to the full pink pants experience! Finally, there’s the ultimate challenge: the pink suit. Yes, it takes some carrying. But a gray suit with pink tie and white shirt is an easy first move to the full “pink all over”.
Get more of Topper's advice on any of the color palettes here: