Pink and Blue

Pink and Blue

Telling the Boys from the Girls in America
Jo B. Paoletti
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 02/06/2012
ISBN: 978-0-253-00130-6
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers


Jo B. Paoletti’s journey through the history of children’s clothing began when she posed the question, "When did we start dressing girls in pink and boys in blue?" To uncover the answer, she looks at advertising, catalogs, dolls, baby books, mommy blogs and discussion forums, and other popular media to examine the surprising shifts in attitudes toward color as a mark of gender in American children’s clothing. She chronicles the decline of the white dress for both boys and girls, the introduction of rompers in the early 20th century, the gendering of pink and blue, the resurgence of unisex fashions, and the origins of today’s highly gender-specific baby and toddler clothing.

Author Bio

Jo B. Paoletti is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland.


“Pink is for boys and blue is for girls—in the late nineteenth century, that is. Looking at a variety of fashion trends throughout history, Pink and Blue uncovers the truth about the gendering of colors through advertising, catalogs, dolls, baby books, mommy blogs, and other popular media.”

“Pink and Blue challenges the cultural panic over how children’s clothing affects gender and sexual identity. Paoletti shatters myths about what girls and boys “naturally” like, and does so with details that will fascinate both the casual and professional reader. ”
 — Peggy Orenstein, Author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter

“Pink and Blue is an interdisciplinary tour de force. Readers will never again take gendered children’s fashion for granted. ”
 — Susan B. Kaiser, The Social Psychology of Clothing: Symbolic Appearances in Context

“In Pink and Blue, Jo Paoletti delivers an insightful analysis of the origins, transformations and consequences of gender distinctions in children’s dress over the last 125 years. . . . A must-read.”
 — Daniel Thomas Cook, The Commodification of Childhood: The Children’s Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consume

“The author is skilled in writing to a wide audience.”
 — Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

“Pink and Blue is meticulously researched, with references to paper dolls, old retail catalogs and the arcane field of material culture studies. Her findings are fascinating. ”
 — PopMatters

“A terrific new book...if you’re getting flack from someone for dressing your boy in pink or your girl in blue...hit them with a copy of Paoletti’s book. When they come to, maybe they’ll read it and leave you alone.”
 — CaféMom

“Recommended for: Those interested in the history of fashion, gender studies, and gender politics.”

“Ms. Paoletti has managed to cram a wealth of information in a relatively fluid narrative that scholars will undoubtedly quote and casual readers will enjoy as an engrossing cultural history of parenthood, as well as childhood.”
 — Worn Through

“This is a fascinating piece of American social history, perhaps raising more questions than it answers. It is of potential interest to students and professionals in fields ranging from child development to gender studies to fashion to marketing, as well as to new and prospective parents. ”
 — Library Journal

“Jo Paoletti provides a compelling examination of 125 years of children's clothing in this volume, raising issues with broad ramifications for understanding the cultural history of the United States between the late-nineteenth and early-twenty-first centuries.”
 — Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“In Pink and Blue, Paoletti presents an interesting portrayal of an important gendered system—a historical perspective that psychologists might otherwise underestimate and undervalue.”
 — PsycCritiques

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


1. Understanding Children's Clothing
2. Dresses Are for Girls and Boys
3. Pants Are for Boys and Girls
4. A Boy Is Not a Girl
5. Pink Is for Boys
6. Unisex Child Rearing and Gender-Free Fashion
7. Gendered and Neutral Clothing since 1985