Mamie Eisenhower: Unwitting creator of THE iconic color of the 50s, “Mamie Pink”

mamie eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower: Library of Congress image

MAMIE PINK: The iconic decorating color of the 50s, arguably. Ubiquitous in fashion as well as bathrooms and kitchens. The mid-century trend to pink seems to have come directly and irrefutably from Mamie Eisenhower, first lady from 1953 to 1961. Pink was Mamie’s favorite color. She wore a pink gown with 2,000 pink rhinestones to Ike’s inauguration. Ike sent her pink flowers every morning. Her bathroom in Gettysburg was pink down to the cotton balls. She re-decorated the private quarters in the White House in pink. So much so that reporters called it the “Pink Palace.” The color also seems to have been known as “First Lady Pink.” As a result of all this pink-think, there was probably no question that American women (and marketers) would pick up on it. It also was a color trend right in line with the exuberance of the time — and even supportive of the return of women to the home after WWII and their complete remaking of the American domestic landscape.

In fact, my own informal research from scouring marketing materials from the period indicates that pink kitchens and baths arrived solidly in ’53, reached a total frenzy in 1957, then pretty rapidly started to fade after that, as other trends took hold. A typical adoption curve for a trend like this.

I have an aquamarine kitchen – the decorating gods sided with my husband on this decision. But I really truly wanted pink. I have to admit, a total fixation.

Meanwhile: Here’s a nice story about Mamie:

All About Mamie

By Jan Biles, The Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas), Published Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not much is known about Mamie Doud Eisenhower.

She was a dutiful wife and mother who stood in the background as her husband, Dwight, excelled in his military career during World War II and then led the country from the Oval Office as the 34th president from 1953 to 1961.  Read more here on the newspaper’s website – well worth it!

Comments

  1. By KWG on

    Just moved into an MCM and the bathroom, I now discover, was pink! They painted over the tile with an “eggnog” finish. I only figured it out because the paint is peeling off of the toothbrush/cup holder, exposing its original Mamie glory!!!! Any suggestions on how to bring it back to its fabulous pink self? I don’t even know where to begin!

  2. By Casey Sherron on

    I live in a 1965 one story brick rental house in town. Our master bath has pink and white tile on the walls almost all the way up and all over the top of the vanity surrounding the sink as well. The toilet paper holder and towel holder are pink ceramic material as well. It drove me insane when we first moved in because even though I’m a woman, I absolutely hate pink. But after watching so many episodes of Rehab Addict with Nicole Curtis, I’m learning to at least appreciate the fact that it’s all still original except for the newer white toilet (which I also hate). I have had a heck of a time trying to decorate around all that pink as well!!

  3. By Linda on

    Thanks to this site (in part) I’ve gone from hating my pink and grey bathroom and planning its demise to being more appreciative. I’m in a 1925 bungalow, and the bathroom was remodeled sometime in the 50’s/early 60’s from what I can tell. I have grey tiled walls 3/4 of the way up to the ceiling with pale pink trim, pale pink tub, white (sorry!) toilet and grey sink/vanity single top piece sink. Love that flamingo wallpaper (I have shower doors each with a curvy-necked flamingo, don’t be jealous!), but didn’t see a colorway that would look ok with all this grey. Did I mention I hate grey?

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