Showing posts with label colour theory. Show all posts
Showing posts with label colour theory. Show all posts

Monday, 14 June 2010


 Actor W Clifford Klenk with his wife, Hope Bacon Ryan, in their Hog Island house, May 1968, as taken by Slim Aarons

   That traffic light approach to summer menswear that I once mentioned? This man is its avatar

   Aarons and his lens would take at least one more capture of Klenk in 1992:

   At some stage, Klenk acquired a baronetcy and continues to be a fixture of the Life that is High:

   His earlier ensembles, to me, speak of WASP style for the true character

   And nothing kills complacency like characters can

Monday, 31 May 2010

The Yellow Tie "No"

   Neckwear of such hues has been a longtime plaything of mine and yet the odd comments regarding its ensemble incompatibility and its limited use amongst the iGentry and iDandies would make me the iconoclast that others consider me as

   Since the colour of my skin obviates the dreaded wash out effect, the only Don't working against me is which garment shades to avoid, which is taken care of through pure pragmatism

   Whilst I wouldn't recommend, say, a navy suit of any stripe on the grounds that the inevitable white shirt would create a strange mix of shiny and washing, my odd pinstriped waistcoat is fair use because it doesn't envelop my arms, thus leaving space on the colour wheel for my grey-brown topcoat. Not pictured is the pair of olive trousers I wore, which, in tandem with the other muted colours and the obscuring effect of the waistcoat, creates a restrained palette that flatters the tie. As long as one is skilled, the navy top with a different coloured lower half is aesthetically sensible, which my good friend, Winston Chesterfield, thoughtfully exemplifies

   For the blues adherents, I’d suggest settling in the ranges of medium, ocean or grey-blue and nothing stronger or deeper than the most moderate of that French hue

   I rather think the yellow tie has more of a habitat in the land of the lighter coloured suit - your khakis and tans and off-whites are very much its friends - but it appears as comfortable in the darker kingdom of the grey. Then you have the browns - I could see one bringing a showman's dash to a chocolate coloured double breasted or a lighter shaded tweed. Rust jackets seem almost mandatory

   The plain yellow silk or knit should be the preserve of the experts who can deploy it with a yellow shirt and the necessary impunity. For those who are not so inclined, stronger hues and tasteful prints are the idyllic entry level to toy with this not unappealing aspect of the palette kingdom

   Perhaps it's time to say "yes"

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

That Heat

   I hate summer time

   It has precisely little value outside of its voyeuristic cachet. The mixture of loss of inhibitions and sensible practicality that leads to pleasing feminine visions also results in disgusting visuals of cross-gender partial nudity that gouge into the mind for the longest time. Lord knows why you all love to throw your clothes off and cavort around open spaces, frolicking without the mess

   I have an outstanding request from one reader to advise on dressing for intemperate climes such as the one we share here in Accra. Presently, the sun has rendered me insensible; there's an ice cream headache waiting for me whenever I move to overturn these circumstances in my favour. Yes, I have air conditioning. And yes, it consistently gives me a nasty cold

   For the sake of my aesthetic theory, there are usually few photographs of my summerwear; to dress for the occasion, I normally sport something elegant in black that also functions as a fitting expression of self:

   All in all, I’d rather be in Iceland

   However, request my presence at a gathering with a British Summer Time theme and the topmost photo is the result. It's intended as pastiche only, with the mode owing more than minimal guidance to the photographic submissions section of The Chap. My ramie Junya Watanabe jacket, one of the few lightweight designs that can be comfortably sported above 25 degrees, deserves better than such purposeful irony. The artifice makes it wrinkle faster

   One's summer jacket is a garment for pleasure because your dress options remain open. That Panama, the linen scarf, the silk neckerchief, the correspondents, the open-necked psychedelic shirt, the tasteful eyeframes, the go-to-Hell trousers in M&M palettes; it's a framework that has lasted almost a century but there's a protean manner of stretching it if one loves a challenge

   For all my scepticism, I like the idea that summer is a two or so month-long Traffic Light Party for gentlemen. Consider it; sun and insensibility - what else should encourage a sartorial frolic in primary colours?

   I'll be going Green

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Colour Wheel Spins

   Kaleidoscopically speaking, this is a year-round ensemble. The sobriety of the deep navy (in person) double breasted and the grey-green of the trousers is enlivened by the exuberance of the accessorising. It's waggishness meets temperance. As I prefer it

   The laces are only for the playful

Monday, 18 January 2010

Relaxed Suiting

The Fifth Earl of Lichfield, Thomas Patrick John Anson, via LIFE Magazine

   Men who want to leave the suit behind when their day is done at the coalface are shortchanging themselves. Learning to adapt and procure suits for occasions and for pleasure is merely another aspect of the fun that comes with sharpening one's image. And that suits-with-trainers lark only ever worked for downtown New York New Wavers and David Tennant

   There are other options, you know:

YSL, circa 1969

Also from LIFE, The Beatles take Japan. And Lennon probably didn't need to ask anyone if it was acceptable to sport a muted pink suit

Etro, via the NY Times; the label has entirely defined itself through uncompromising flamboyance, sharp cuts and playful patterning

Etro for summer. There's only one element I'd not wear

The post-colonial African hipster look revived for the NY Times. Suits by Viktor & Rolf (l) and Dries Van Noten (r)

   Let's face it; the mods, suedeheads and peacocks were deriving much enjoyment from their appropriation of traditional dress codes and the results thereof. It's all over Patrick Lichfield's face up above; he's bold, but not over the top, able to enjoy his appearance without being self conscious about it. Given what parades up and down today's metro paving, it's only out of the ordinary because sartorialism is the current incarnation of iconoclasm. Having said that, it still takes a brave or uncaring man to wear a hat crown as large as his face

Mick Jagger and Mary Whitehouse. Really

The 1971 wedding of Mick and Bianca Jagger. His suit was from Nutter's of Savile Row; at this time, the pattern was cut by master tailor Edward Sexton. His shirt was created by Deborah & Clare of Beauchamp Place. The photograph is, of course, by Patrick Lichfield, via The Independent

   It's been well documented that I achieve a more informal look the same way other likeminds do; my shirt and tie combinations could only really be seen at parties or in a creative office. Anyone who really thinks bold ensembles are de rigueur in a conservative professional environment is an idiot or has befriended one too many wide boys. But going the other way and playing the colour field down doesn't harm a suit's out-of-the-office cachet:

Knit tie, green pocket square, striped cardigan; relaxed in more of a cosy sense than a creative one, but also perfectly felicitous for a dressy occasion

   Rather than simply thinking "It's not for me" or "I'm not (delete as appropriate) cool/rich/famous/handsome/slender/crazy enough to pull this off," you simply have to remember that menswear is about the details. For every exuberant pattern, there must be a balancing act performed by the cut; it must, of course, fit exceptionally well. Don't compound the potential shock factor of a statement fabric with offbeat tailoring decisions (unless it's a shorts suit, which is a topic for a future time). Stick with two buttons in a single breasted or go double in a 6x4 configuration. Rather than standard padded shoulders, why not try roped shoulders and/or lightly padded natural shoulders. Retain a well shaped silhouette with subtle buttons. Let the fabric do the shouting

   If anyone would like a place to start, I can think of nowhere better than Dashing Tweeds. Their Exploded Houndstooth design has previously appeared on this column. I do like this Foulkesian 3-piece tailored from one of their cloths by Savile Row's Davies & Son:

   A final thought: don't neglect the outerwear

Monday, 30 November 2009

Blue and Green are Never Seen

   It's strange, but I'm reasonably certain that this is a rather uncommon garment colour pairing in menswear, hence the borrowed title. This doesn't have to be the case. The trick is usually to vary shade and manage the intensity that either colour is more than capable of. What I'm demonstrating below is both the tip of the iceberg and starting to approach an extreme where formal looks are concerned. A more sober and perhaps more harmonic take is a navy suit with a more restrained shade of green tie, which I'm also fond of utilising on occasion:

   Additionally, a green odd jacket can work wonders with a blue shirt. This is fairly tone dependent, to be fair - a deep green can handle possibly any variation of blue, but it's best to shy away from particularly bright greens no matter the shirt unless you are pure prep perfection, a la the Hamptons visions of Ralph Lauren's summer ensembles. I've a purple jacket , a burgundy jacket and two light blues , but a mint green hardly tops the next 20 on my wishlist. Nevertheless, my sage green jacket is liked and is also neutral and dull enough that I've gone all the way up to royal blue shirtings, although strong sky blues seem to be the most fun:

   For a look at perhaps the most fun I've experienced with this mixture, a memory lane trip into this column's infancy exhibits my rarely worn "secret weapon" - my green shirt . The shirt actually has blue stripes woven in, which nods to another suggestion - wearing two garments predominantly shaded in blue and green with complementing overtones of one in the other; say, a green pinstriped blue suit with a light green shirt. I don't have a blue suit with a green pattern, but perhaps I have time to find one

   Writing this also begs the question of which comes first - mastery over colour or over pattern? I don't think it's too uninformed to posit that Europe has a great handle on both, due in no small part to the proliferation of coloured, patterned shirts that have cemented the reputations of the likes of Hilditch & Key, Charvet and Turnbull & Asser, further adorning and/or inspiring well dressed men worldwide. At the end of the day, anyone can wear patterns, but not everyone is particularly willing to wear colour. But if the most daring one could go is blue and green, it's far more simple than it may first appear