Bless Pam Keuber over at retro renovation. She boldly posted an open thread discussion of the question that has been cooking in my brain for months, if not years:
Should we use the terms “feminine” and “masculine” to describe decorating styles?
Or clothing, for that matter? Or personality traits? "Masculine" and "feminine" are sort of passive descriptors, which don't actually tell you anything about how something looks, but point to cultural stereotypes. In my opinion, "urban", "tribal" and "exotic" are used in similar ways. In order to "get" the meaning of the word, you have to be familiar with the cultural reference. (If your brain translated those to into stereotyped images of African Americans, sub-Saharan African design or Southeast Asians, congratulations! Your consumer culture wiring is working as media producers and marketers hoped it would!)
As my research on the history of pink symbolism shows, pink is only "feminine" in a specific recent cultural context. The same is true of nearly all of the details we think of as "girly". To use "feminine" to describe something as "pink" or "elaborately decorative" is meaningful only in that narrow context. But beyond that context, it is not a terribly useful word. Describing both the boy and the girl in the paintings below as "feminine" is lazy (not to mention historically inaccurate).
So don't be lazy. Use your active adjectives!
Instead of "masculine", try tailored, functional. or understated. If by "feminine", you mean delicate, ruffled, or pastel, just say so!