Is it contradictory to say that millennial pink is the subtle color that’s totally taken over and now rules the fashion world? Pink has certainly dominated fashion runways for a couple of seasons. The hue is famously quiet, discreet and, most of all, feminine. Pink doesn’t shout or draw attention to the wearer. These may be the exact reasons why the hue is turning up on women who are partnered with powerful and famous men. Meghan Markle has sparked a wave of sartorial analysis about why she’s traded in her bolder hues for three-in-a-row appearances in pink since her wedding to Prince Harry.
The Duchess of Sussex most recently wore a pale blush bateau neck Prada dress for a Buckingham Palace event. Before that gathering, she wore a delicately pink outfit for the garden party honoring the November birthday of Prince Charles and then there was the dress she donned for the Trooping the Colour.
Other wives of famous men are joining the pretty-in-pink club.
Melania Trump and Queen Rania of Jordan both wore subdued cocktail looks for their meeting at the White House. FLOTUS chose a blush Proenza Schouler wrap dress, while Jordan’s queen selected a delicate, ultra-pale pink blouse ballet slipper-colored Adeam wide leg trousers. Queen Letizia of Spain wore a color block shirtdress with a pale pink bodice for a public appearance the same week.
What’s going on here? Did these trend setters all get the same memo? Fashion analysts say there’s a message here that’s just as obvious as Melania Trump’s now infamous “I really don’t care, do U?” jacket.
Color expert Elaine Ryan says that wearing pink may signal a subtle assurance that traditional power roles are still in place. “In this time, when women are being seen by some as usurping the power from men, pink sends the message of non-threatening, feminine, and ‘taking a back seat,'” she said.
Women who hold positions of power themselves send a different message when they wear vibrant colors, according to Ryan. “Bright, bold colors on a woman who holds a powerful position speaks not only of her feminine authority, but also of her need for ‘center stage.’”
Queen Elizabeth focuses on a bold palette so that she is visible in a crowd and from a distance. Women who have political power such as Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and even political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are making the same bold color choices for the same reasons. They need to be seen, heard and respected. They also want to stand out amid the crowd of navy, gray and black suits that male politicians favor.
When a woman becomes associated with power because she has married a man with authority, she may choose to say something different.
“Women are feminine, empathic and sensitive,” says Dawnn Karen, Founder of the Fashion Psychology Institute. “Wearing softer hues will denote this and serve as a hindrance whereby these women would be perceived on the extreme as too feminine.”
She added that the wearer of the color may also be perceived as “incapable of being all of the qualities associated with being powerful—assertive, determined and domineering,” whereas, “bolder hues serve as a mechanism to balance the perception of what it means to be a woman.”