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Colors for kids

When you walk into a shopping mall you see pink outfits for boys, black clothes for infants, a tuxedo for a 3-year old mischief. We definitely didn’t wear that when we were kids! Let’s try to remember how our parents used to dress us and consider the changes in children’s apparel since then. We started to treat our children differently, the society also changed - and this certainly reflected on the fashion.

Instagram and fast-fashion were yet non-existent in our childhood. The trends changed once a season and the outfits were rather sensible than stylish. Parents were not obsessed with taking their kids’ photos every single moment and posting them on social networks. They often paid no attention to what the kid wore unless the kid went out.

Live is life

The fashion of the present often imitates the fashion of the past but never copies it completely. Children of royal families were dressed up in “adult” clothes. It deliberately restrained the movements to keep the child nobly still, and it was extensively rich to point out the wealth and fortune of the parent.

Now we treat our children as equals. We are happy to see them live and active. We take them to exhibitions and lectures, we go to restaurants and bring the kids to our work. We pass our style on to our children, from their earliest days we teach them to appreciate the style. Now we go to the theatre with a daughter in a tiny black dress of a favorite designer or a son all suit up. And just recently the kids didn’t wear dark and black colors, although some theatres still won’t let you in with kids.

New postmodern rules

This is how we’re gonna be remembered after. We find the rules in style to break them. But living in the postmodern era we ourselves set the rules for the future. We’ve found out one ethical rule, it goes like this: don’t harm the nature. Fabrics manufacturing and dying consume a lot of water, so every chance to save the planet’s resources is encouraged. We want to be responsible and reduce the water consumption for the sake of our future, that’s why natural fabrics and nude shades will be in style for long.

Where fashion springs from

Remarkably, fashion for colors emerged in many different ways. Now it comes from our constant crave for something new. The Internet and supersonic jets in the pace of our hectic life have greatly contributed to this crave. New outfit goes out of style even before it wears out. It wasn’t always like that. Before the era of mass production rare things which were complicated to make were defined as fashionable. Purple was so expensive that only the Byzantine emperor had the right to wear purple togas. Red and gold in China were the reigning dynasty prerogatives. In the whole world the color was the sign of status.

Angels in sensible clothes

After chemistry advanced in the 18th century and the chemical bleaches appeared it became quite easy to dress the kids in white. You just boil the laundry and it’s fresh and clean again. Light tunics and lace clothing for kids are still known to us: christening sets and puffy dresses are like perennial classic. White is the color of innocence and purity. In the art galleries we see portraits of babies in white bonnets and thinnest dresses. Every child was the beautiful cherubim for his parents and they had this image captured forever.

Science and art influence

The 19th century brought with it the emerald, purple, crimson, bright blue and aniline black colors. Brightness in clothes burst into existence with the rise of the Russian ballet and art nouveau. The artist Lev Bakst created sketches of costumes that shocked the European public which preferred light colors. Soon cheap cotton fabrics with printed patterns flooded the market and the brightness was no longer the symbol of luxury and distinction. The symbolism of rare colors had run dry. Bright clothes are yet to come back into fashion in the late 1960s to early 1980s, when children's development was a popular theme for research works. It turned out that babies prefer bright colors and contrast combinations. Childhood now looked more active and fervent, with red and yellow, green and blue colors.

Good manners

Will all shades available to us the ability to combine them properly and to choose what suits you best is crucial. Modesty, completeness and elegance are the new criteria of beauty that work even now. At the beginning of the 20th century, children of age 1-6 were often dressed in colored clothes. Skin tone, season and fashion were important for choosing the color. Blondes wore blue, children with brown eyes were dressed in pink, dark-haired ones were dressed in yellow.

Girly “pink” and boyish “blue”

Earlier little angels under 7 were not visually separated on boys and girls. Then in the 20th century the color came in to express the child’s sex. Pink, a mild version of the aggressive red, was intended for boys, blue - for girls, just the right calm color for future mothers. Everything converges, the Virgin Mary in Christian churches is usually depicted in blue to symbolize the purity and holiness. Traditionally pink in Europe symbolizes the youth and liveliness rather than femininity. A young man could wear a pink clothing, the old man could not ever.

The trend turned back to the 1940s. No one knows exactly why the pink color was labeled as “girly”. Could be that women in post-war period got tired of dull colors and chose to wear bright "boyish" color to point out their active life position. The feminists took on the trend and made pink the color of their movement. Since the 1980s more and more toys for girls come in shades of ballet pointe shoes and fuchsia. Girls of that era wanted everything pink and they got it. Around the 2000 the power of "pink for girls" began to gradually drop, and the color again changed its meaning. Pink on a boy was perceived ironically, the "girlish" color of the T-shirt doesn’t make a boy less masculine and "being like a girl" is no longer embarrassing.


Valeria Pukhovizkaya
August 2017