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(originally published to Bubblews writing site, now gone)

These days, we think blue for boys and pink for girls. But it wasn’t always this way. Until the late 19th century, white dresses were the norm for boys and girls up to the age of 5 or 6. Longish hair was in fashion for children and you could hardly tell boys from girls.

New chemical dyes meant colors gradually became more popular in the 19th century as they no longer faded when washed. Pink and blue were worn by both boys and girls up to about the time of World War I (1914-18). Around this time, pink became more popular for boys and blue for girls. In 1918, trade magazine Earnshaw’s Infant Department said:

“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. 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.”

This rule seemed to be promoted by magazines and stores in the 1920s. There were exceptions, such as blue sailor suits for boys, which had been popular since the late 19th century.

By the 1940s, manufacturers and retailers were pushing blue for boys and pink for girls. The main influence may have been French fashion, which was predominant and had traditionally used pink for girls and blue for boys.