The Barbiecore trend means pink is everywhere

Photography by Samantha Levi.

PMS 219, otherwise known as Pantone Pink 219C, is a color that’s everywhere, most notably because of the movie summer blockbuster Barbie. Inspired by the titular doll created sixty years, the Barbie movie is inspiring all things pink and the popular Barbiecore trend.

This fad, which follows the Y2K style revival, began last spring when Italian fashion empire Valentino debuted its Pink PP Collection for Autumn/Winter 2022-2023 at Paris Fashion Week. The monochromatic line, produced by creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, stripped “the palette down to a single hue, relentlessly.” Then the Barbie movie came and watching Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken riding in a pink corvette and rollerblading through Venice Beach also seems to have added to the pink explosion.

“I also think that it’s a completely nostalgic thing,” says local personal stylist Abby Wood. “It might also be a product of Covid—people want home cooking and nostalgic things that are going to make them remember good times. Bringing back some of this nostalgic stuff is what people are gonna grab on to.” She also says that bold pops of colors have been seen in Scandinavian fashion for a few years now, so it was only a matter of time before the trend made its way over here.

Fashion has also been in a neutral-colored state for the last decade or so, and while there’s nothing wrong with wearing greige, Barbiecore hot pink might be the dopamine boost that people need, Wood says. “It’s really something that can kind of pump them up.”

If the thought of walking down the sidewalk at the Plaza in a hot pink outfit makes you sweat, we get it: It’s not easy to fully commit to a bold monochromatic outfit (especially one that’s the color of bubble gum). If you want to dip your toe into the Barbiecore trend, Wood suggests starting small by incorporating pink nail polish into your rotation, then moving onto bolder accessories like a hot pink crossbody or a pair of sparkly statement shoes.

Another way to tastefully tackle the trend is to mix different shades of pink in one outfit. What’s important here, Wood says, is to keep the pinks within the same tone (avoid mixing a peachy pink with a purple pink, for example) and to play around with different textures.

Barbiecore doesn’t end at hot pink, either: Turn-of-the-millenium accessories like platform shoes, chunky plastic sunglasses and holographics are also making a comeback. What’s next, Juicy Couture tracksuits?   

Barbie Through the Years

The original Barbie that was released in 1959 was starkly different from the bubble-gum Barbie we know today. We spoke with Amy McKune, curator of collections at Kansas City’s National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, about Barbie’s evolution through the twentieth century.

1959 Barbie is born! The first Barbie wore a black-and-white striped swimsuit. “By the end of the year, there were twenty-two outfits for the doll,” McKune says.

1960s Sixties Barbie was very Jackie O-inspired: Barbie had bubble-cut hair and colorful Mod-era clothing reminiscent of the time. In 1968, Barbie’s first Black friend, Christie, was introduced.

1970s According to McKune, this decade is when Barbie fashion and affluence spiked in popularity. “By this time, Barbie had her own clothes line at Sears,” McKune says. The legendary Malibu Barbie was released in 1971, and it was the first doll with a pearly white smile and forward-facing blue eyes.

1980s-90s “The dolls made in these years didn’t come with just the swimsuit,” McKune says. “They had more themes for the different Barbies.” For example, Astronaut Barbie, Great Shape Barbie and Fountain Mermaid Barbie were best-sellers during this time. 

These decades are when Barbie became affiliated with the iconic hot pink color—everything from the packaging for Barbie products to accessories like Barbie’s Dream House turned pink.

Social Media

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to our newsletters

Kansas City magazine keeps readers updated on the latest news in twice-weekly newsletter. 

On Tuesdays, Dish brings you food news and our critic picks. 

On Thursdays, The Loop offers exclusive news reports and our curated events picks.