It’s been creeping up insidiously and has grown in recent times to a shocker that seems to have the masculine gene map cross-wired. As women continue to break glass ceilings and empower themselves with dark business suits, men, it now appears, are veering almost naturally towards what were considered effeminate colours. “I love a man who has the confidence to wear pink,” women were known to flirt a few years ago, when it seemed that everyone was outing their shelves to show off candy floss and mauve-coloured shirts saved up for weekends. But all that is in the past. Men no longer just wear pink — and mauve and lemon and violet — they wear it with insouciance.
And it’s not just shirts. The biggest trend on the tube in London (which is the most democratic platform you’re likely to find for working professionals) is coloured pants for men, and the public loves it! From red pants to purples and greens to fuchsia and rouge, it is soft power all the way. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. Tomato red pants are a common feature in the spring collections of fashion biggies Hugo Boss, Topman and Zara. The striking palette doesn’t find resonance in women’s clothes, so clearly this is a masculine trend, and one which doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere in a hurry.
And now that the Corneliani catalogue is out, it’s no surprise that the mandate is set. But what’s more surprising is the choice of pinks on offer, which could lead some to think that pink is the new corporate blue for men. Which — blue, that is — continues to remain a favourite for jackets and blazers. Once upon a time, you could be forgiven for thinking that heads of department showing up in yellow pants might have led to corporate seizure, but now it’s just as likely that the head honcho might be more willing to experiment with colour and cut — slim fit, naturally — than would have been possible earlier. With trousers, they are reconciled to the fact that the current wisdom says creative, innovative people dress flamboyantly and think out of the box as compared with their more staid colleagues. Which could be a reason why concessions are being made for people who dress, well, a little differently, and attempts made to embrace that difference.
While the less courageous might prefer to keep those legs tucked under the desk so that not too many visitors can glimpse a crimson pant or a yellow shoe, you can instead focus on keeping shirts and jackets simple and tone down the palette so that corporate summer fashion looks not so much outrageous as quirky.
Zara, for a long while, had led the colour revolution, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that it continues to cater to that constituency. But Hugo Boss has ‘safari’ jackets that are a deeper shade of pink this season, while Giorgio Armani has a selection of shirts and jackets in a vivid aquamarine.
The problem is with shoes. You can’t really team crimson pants with a pair of black Oxfords. The mandate, therefore, is to eliminate formal shoes and replace them with casual loafers or moccasins. Which is perfect given India’s severe summer, but wearing them without socks might prove more challenging than even your coloured pants.
—The writer is a Delhi-based author and curator