Your Great Grandfather Wore 'Pink' as a Baby

How babies were dressed over the centuries has changed quite a bit. By the mid-1800s with washing machines available and availability of store-bought fabrics, baby clothes began having a bit of hue or color to them. Earlier there were no colors assigned to either sex of a baby, it was usually white cotton (neutral) fabric for boys and girls but this changed in the mid-1800s. Originally, boys were assigned the color pink and girls the color blue.

How was that decided? The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.

Even the US Presidential family, Grover Cleveland, in 1897 received from William McKinley’s family a gift of blue booties for a boy.

These beliefs about the correct color for each gender continued well into the 1900s. In 1925, the Betty Bob’s Family paper doll book came out with a Baby Bobby in it, featuring some feminine looking clothing paper doll clothing. 

In 1927 Time Magazine featured a chart on which ten popular department stores across the nation labeled the gender of clothes for which sex. Six stores listed pink for boys and only five stores showed pink for girls (one store even had pink for both sexes).

This trend continued until after World War II (1945) where the assigning pink for girls and blue for boys become set. With color assignments becoming set, it has become an insult to many mothers to call a child by the wrong gender. Babies have some kind of indicator on them, such as a pink bow headband or a little blue blanket or toy, even if their clothes are not a female shade or male shade of color.

With most vintage family photos in black and white, it might be hard to tell what color wore in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. IF by chance you do have a color photo check it out, there might be a surprise for you.

If only a black and white located, image it in pink for a boy and blue for a girl.

Photos: In 1840s-a small boy’s outfit using cotton fabric and hand sewn;  ‘ Baby Bobby’ suit in pink in 1915 for a male baby to wear and blue and pink baby booties.

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