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Is teal a gender-neutral color?


Teal is a bluish-green color that sits between blue and green on the color spectrum. In recent years, teal has emerged as a popular color choice for everything from fashion and interior design to product branding. But is teal truly a gender-neutral color suitable for any gender, or is it more feminine or masculine?

Brief history of the color teal

The name “teal” comes from the common teal, a member of the duck family with bluish-green feathers. The first recorded use of “teal” as a color name in English was in 1917. Before this, what we now call teal was commonly referred to as peacock blue.

Teal began gaining popularity as a fashion color in the 1920s and 30s. Its connection to nature made it a frequent choice for women’s apparel and accessories. However, teal was still commonly worn by men during this time period as well.

The 1990s saw a resurgence of teal or “sea green” in pop culture. Shows like Saved by the Bell featured characters wearing teal clothing. Brands like Nike and Wilson adopted teal for sports uniforms and equipment. Teal became a trendy accent color in interior design and visual media. Its gender association during this time was largely feminine or unisex.

Teal in gender identity

In modern times, teal has been adopted by some members of the LGBTQ+ community as representative of non-binary, genderqueer, or gender-nonconforming identities. The specific teal, white, and purple color scheme has its origins in 2010 as part of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag.

However, teal is not universally considered a non-binary color. Its adoption is limited compared to other gender identity colors like yellow, white, purple, and black. Teal remains a popular choice for general marketing and branding purposes across gender lines.

Teal in fashion

Decade Feminine Teal Fashion Masculine Teal Fashion
1920s Flapper dresses, beadwork Handkerchiefs, neckties
1930s Evening gowns, gloves Suits, casual shirts
1940s Skirts, blouses Military uniforms
1950s Cocktail dresses, underwear Bowling shirts, swim trunks
1960s Shift dresses, costume jewelry Casual button-downs, mod suits
1970s Halter tops, bell bottoms Wide collar shirts
1980s Workout clothes, prom dresses Hawaiian shirts
1990s Slip dresses, crop tops Grunge flannels
2000s Halter tops, jeans Polo shirts, swim trunks
2010s Skater dresses, athleisure Vests, casual button-downs

Throughout modern fashion history, teal has been a staple color for both women’s and men’s apparel. While it has often been associated with femininity, teal has remained a versatile option for masculine looks as well. The table above shows some examples of how both genders have incorporated teal into clothing over the decades.

Teal in home design and decor

In interior design, teal has traditionally skewed feminine due to its connections with nature, the ocean, and the exotic. Pastel teal was extremely popular for 1950s and 60s kitchen appliances and decor. Darker jewel-tone teals were used for ornate wallpaper, velvet upholstery, and oriental carpets during the psychedelic and disco eras.

While still prevalent in bohemian, shabby chic, and coastal decors often marketed toward women, teal has also grown in masculinity as a home decor color recently. Modern teal furnishings and accents provide a bold, energizing pop of color without being overly feminine. Teal works well as a gender-neutral accent color for living rooms, bedrooms, and offices when offset with neutral grays and blacks.

Teal in marketing and branding

Teal is a popular color for marketing towards both female and male target audiences. Well-known brands using teal in feminine-leaning marketing include Tiffany & Co., Victoria’s Secret, and Hostess. Masculine brands utilizing teal include Wilson, Orvis, and Nickelodeon.

Androgynous or gender-neutral brands that have adopted teal include Starbucks, T-Mobile, and Amazon Prime. Teal is a friendly yet bold color that appeals to all ages and demographics. Its versatility makes it work across product categories from technology to toys to food and beverage. When polled, consumers tend to describe teal as “soothing”, “inviting”, and “trendy” – associations that work for any gender.

Psychology of the color teal

Psychologically, teal contains the calming properties of blue along with the rejuvenating qualities of green. It is associated with open communication, intuition, imagination, and sensitivity. While teal can sometimes read as more feminine due to these emotive traits, they apply equally to men’s and women’s inner worlds.

Studies on color psychology find that both men and women respond positively to teal. It is stimulating but not overpowering. Teal resonates as happy and hopeful. This makes it appealing across genders for everything from gift-giving occasions to the healthcare and hospitality industries.


While traditionally skewing feminine, teal has become a gender-neutral color in the 21st century. Both men and women regularly incorporate teal into their fashion wardrobes and home decor. Smart brands utilize teal for universal appeal across demographics and target audiences. Psychologically, teal promotes openness and imagination that connect with all genders. With its growing popularity across markets, teal has demonstrated its versatile versatility regardless of gender norms and associations. For these reasons, teal remains a friendly, inviting, and widely accepted gender-neutral color.