Marilyn Monroe Models Shocking Pink 1952
1950s Fashion | 20th Century Fashion | Fashion History | Films

Fashion History: Think Pink! The Colour of the 1950s

April 5, 2019

(Our post has clips from two 1950s musicals. Plug in your headphones or turn your computer up loud to enjoy the songs-of-the-day.)

Cover image. Marilyn Monroe, 1952. Bang on trend!

Think Pink! sang the cast of Funny Face, the 1957 film starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire.

Hepburn was what we’d now call an ‘Influencer’ – her gamine looks Givenchy’s muse – however pink was the colour of the 1950s seen in her lighthearted film.

Pink as a colour trend

Colour trends are as important to the fashion industry as silhouettes, hem lengths or whether you wear a hat.

Pink arrived for Spring Summer of 1952 and, in one shade or another, was here to stay.

It dialled all the way up to 11, shocking pink seen on the cover of British Vogue of March 1953.

Front Cover British Vogue March 1953
Pink wasn’t only for Hollywood, it was a major trend in Britain in 1953. Image courtesy British Vogue.

Hot pink

Bold, brash, oft-described as ‘hot’ it seemed a rather un-British colour but it was suited to the influence of sweater girls and super-sexy film stars like Marilyn Monroe.

Blonde was the hair colour – later it became the name of a cream coloured fabric – and pink suited her brilliantly.

Baby pink 1950s prom dress
Hot pink diluted to baby pink in this 50s prom dress.

For everyday women it filtered to prom dresses, diluted to baby pink.

It even appeared in the kitchen used in storage jars for coffee, tea and sugar teamed with its natural complimentary shade – grey.

Pink 1950s storage jars

charcoal grey 1955 vintage suit
As far from the conservative palette as it can get. In 1955 charcoal grey was a colour to team with a pink blouse, maybe!

An enduring legacy 

Hard to ignore pink shocked Britain out of its post-war blues and with it came an era of experimentation and change.

Electrically charged the hot pink of 1952 filtered to lighter shades for day wear, more flexible and perhaps also more acceptable in a country full of rules and social expectations about what was worn throughout the day.

Vintage 1954 soft pink suit
Soft pink tailored skirt suit. 1954.
Promotional fashions for Funny Face 1957
Promotional shot for Funny Face film. 1957. No animals were harmed in the making of the film 😉
The mid-late 1950s 

Pink didn’t disappear after 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Its influence spread throughout the decade, seen in the Fuschias of 1957 and Peruvian Pinks of 1958.

It even appeared in the 1960s – these patent leather flats the last word in Boutique chic.

1960s hot pink patent leather shoes

But we remember it most fondly and strongly in the fabulous Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.  

Marilyn Monroe wore it with panache and stunning sex appeal which is why we cannot forget her, even today.

1953. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Ah Marilyn. Who can forget the biggest splash of hot pink ever seen!

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