Colour is big, colour is bold, colour is different, colour is individual and colour is difficult. The male fashion world has finally accepted colour as a sartorially acceptable part of the perfect wardrobe, but whether everyone agrees with this move, partakes in it or even considers it at all is another issue entirely. As it further permeates the catwalks it builds more of a presence on the high street; every shop is full of colour, crying out for our attention, and the contents of our wallets.

But colour is far from easy and some would say, far from necessary. There was an audible sigh of relief across the board when it became clear that colour was here to stay – it is undeniable that it does open up a whole new world of possibility, but that is far from confirmation of its place in every man’s wardrobe. The colour question still hangs over many a fashion conscious male; the impetus to use it exists but whether we actually need it or want it is still open for debate.

What Constitutes Colour?

Colour is arguably a more complex topic than it might seem at first thought. The biggest question to ask of it is at what point colour becomes colourful? What makes a standard colour become something more? Take blue for example, the spectrum for shading is huge – from dark navy to the brightest of skies, there are hundreds of different shades, each with their own name and infinitesimal differences in accordance.

However, this doesn’t identify when a colour actually becomes what we as a collective group call a bright colour or a shade that is beyond the normal spectrum. It would be fair to say in fact that there is no real, concrete distinction – it is a case of each to their own. What one may consider colourful, another may not. We need to understand exactly what our own concept of muted and toned down is, and this comes from our style.

Your style is very personal. It helps to define you as a person, as a personality, it reflects who you are, how you feel and how you act – the colours that make up your wardrobe should and most probably will already reflect this. Colour is a confidence thing – you have to WANT to wear it, you have to feel comfortable in it, you must feel confident walking down the street in it – especially if your choice happens to be at the more vivid end of the scale. It cannot be half cut, so you must ask yourself whether you could in all seriousness pull it off, and whether it actually works for YOU.

To help explain what I am getting at and to give you a few visual cues, take a look at the images below.

The Colour LookBook:

Men's Colourful Outfits Lookbook

The Monochrome LookBook:

Men's Monochrome Outfits Lookbook

Colour & Your Personal Style

This question of personal choice extends further than the initial consideration of what actually represents a colour – all our clothes are a colour but we must remember the divide between colour and bright colour. Are there in your opinion, colours or shades that are undeniably more bright and daring than others that still come under the banner of the more subtle and reserved? Is it ultimately shade that dictates colourfulness? Does material dictate the colour, or even how colourful something can actually be; think of tweed, we accept it in all manner of shades of green, grey or brown but what would be the reaction to someone that appeared in public wearing a sports jacket in purple or pink? Do our predetermined notions define where colour can and cannot be worn? Do they dictate our view of colour?

To become truly bright and colourful do you have to wear an item that is considered a stand out piece or can bright and colourful come from just wearing a vibrant pair of socks? Is it all in the detail or the outfit overall? I would argue that because some colours come under the sphere of subtle and reserved – camel for instance – that an outfit is still fairly monochrome and muted if you were to wear a camel cardigan with a suit. The suit remains the main focus of the look because it holds the majority stake, the camel cardigan adds variation but does not shout, which brings us back round to the question of what YOU consider to be colourful. All clothes have a colour, but that does not necessarily represent your personal perception of colourfulness.

Once we have ascertained exactly what our own individual concept of colourful and being colourful is, it then becomes appropriate to consider the case or reasoning for adopting the bright and colourful or the subtle and reserved. We have discussed the meaning of the former but as of yet have not really broached the subject of the latter – what IS subtle and reserved? Once again it is personal preference and our subjective decisions shape it. Does subtle and reserved actually correspond just as much to colour as it does to monochrome and muted?

Does colour represent playfulness, daring, individuality, experimentation, fashion forwardness, an embracing of new trends and an overwhelming sense of confidence? Does the reserved suggest security or safety, conformism, or a sense of the classic, elegance and the timeless? You could certainly say that colour is just as timeless, elegant, classic and appropriate as the muted (think burgundy & camel/khaki) and the same can be said the other way around (unconventional white jeans, for example). This would then suggest that the perfect style and image of the quintessential sartorial gentleman is a mix of the two, but that is no confirmation of the truth; each side has its merits and we cannot, and SHOULD NOT ignore our own preferences.

The biggest question we have to ask of our own style, is whether a total embracing of colour is a requirement. Is it an essential part of the modern man’s wardrobe? For a consideration of both sides of the argument check out Warren Sammut’s Common Fashion Mistakes series – Too Much Colour/The One Colour.

Whether you need colour is ultimately down to your personal style, you have to want to wear colour otherwise it will not work. There is no need for it if your style is based around a muted and monochrome palette of navy, black, greys and whites – everyone likes variation but there is absolutely no requirement to start introducing colours. Sartorial perfection can come from many directions, it can help diversify but it can also be extraneous.

Colour is complex, colour is undeniably individual and colour deserves consideration, but it is by no means guaranteed.

Product Picks
Subtle Picks
  • John Smedley Navy Sea Island Cotton Blackwell CardiganJohn Smedley Navy Sea Island Cotton Blackwell Cardigan
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Merino Wool Rollneck SweaterPolo Ralph Lauren Merino Wool Rollneck Sweater
  • Asos Long Hair Crew Neck JumperAsos Long Hair Crew Neck Jumper
  • Selected Alex Leather JacketSelected Alex Leather Jacket
  • Allsaints Anchorage BlazerAllsaints Anchorage Blazer
  • Allsaints Torrent CoatAllsaints Torrent Coat
  • Topman Grey Herringbone Slim TrousersTopman Grey Herringbone Slim Trousers
  • Allsaints Ballast Piper TrouserAllsaints Ballast Piper Trouser
  • Acne Roc Slim Fit Cotton-blend ChinosAcne Roc Slim Fit Cotton-blend Chinos
  • Burton Black Label Soho Collar ShirtBurton Black Label Soho Collar Shirt
  • Reiss Closer Evening Formal Shirt Lux GreyReiss Closer Evening Formal Shirt Lux Grey
  • Allsaints Lander ScarfAllsaints Lander Scarf
Colour Picks
  • Jil Sander Classic Cotton Crew Neck T-shirtJil Sander Classic Cotton Crew Neck T-shirt
  • Topman Mustard Window Check ShirtTopman Mustard Window Check Shirt
  • Balenciaga Wool-blend CardiganBalenciaga Wool-blend Cardigan
  • John Smedley Mediterranean Blue Tipped Carlen Crew KnitJohn Smedley Mediterranean Blue Tipped Carlen Crew Knit
  • Asos Cable JumperAsos Cable Jumper
  • J.crew Ludlow Cotton Chino Suit JacketJ.crew Ludlow Cotton Chino Suit Jacket
  • Topman Toffee Smart CoatTopman Toffee Smart Coat
  • Ymc Gloverall Wool-blend Duffle CoatYmc Gloverall Wool-blend Duffle Coat
  • Dolce & Gabbana Slim Fit JeansDolce & Gabbana Slim Fit Jeans
  • Topman Sunflower Skinny ChinoTopman Sunflower Skinny Chino
  • Original Penguin Brushed Cotton ChinoOriginal Penguin Brushed Cotton Chino
  • Reiss Ashbery Cashmink Scarf KingfisherReiss Ashbery Cashmink Scarf Kingfisher

I apologise profusely if this article has just caused you to think that I am making a simple question very convoluted, that is sincerely not my intent. I simply wish to create a question that shows – whether we admit it or not – we are slaves to our own vanity, as we all like to look good. We will change our image upon the basis of trends and what other people deem to be fashionable to varying levels and it represents the danger that we become blind to our own preferences; what we like.

I am not a fan of the brightest of colours, I do not intend to introduce my wardrobe to colour blocking, I like my colours muted and reserved but I can appreciate variation and I wonder whether others feel the same. Is there a pressure for the fashion conscious male to fully integrate himself into colourful garments just because it is appearing more? Do we actually need to? It is fantastic that colour now exists in our world but I do not think it a necessity and I would like to hear your views.

  • Do you think it a necessity to incorporate colour into your wardrobe?
  • What is your idea of colour? What do you consider bright and colourful?
  • What do you consider subtle and reserved?
  • Which side of the debate represents your style?
  • Will you be trying to wear more colours now it has become a bigger part of men’s fashion?
  • Do you think colour in general is a good thing?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.