I’m writing this during the Murray/Federer final, whilst also keeping an eye on the Tour de France, and I am slowly coming to a realisation: tennis fans are better dressed than cycling fans. If you have even the briefest knowledge of cycling, that won’t surprise you (there are many, many sunburnt, half dressed, sportswear toting men and women lining the Alps this time of year.)
However, there is one respect in which cycling wins out. Skin tight it may be, but cycling kit uses colour with flair. ‘Astana’ wear a fetching Robin’s egg blue, ‘Lampre-ISD’ wear an unforgettably vivid combination of fluorescent pint and electric blue, and ‘Rabobank’s’ citrus inspired orange outfit is the kind of thing we’ve been seeing on catwalks for years (or not). It makes Wimbledon look a bit boring.
This means that cycling takes the honours over tennis for this week at least. The theme we are focusing on in this month’s street style round-up is colour. If you tend to dress like an accident at the Dulux factory, your time has come: fashion has a place for you.
Before we begin, let’s quickly revisit the colour wheel using Matt Allinson’s Fashion Basics article, An Introduction to Colour (skip this if you’re already an expert):
Photo By: http://ghentstreetstyle.com/
Yes, it is very purple – but beyond that initial reaction, it is exceptionally co-ordinated. The patterning of the shirt is subtle and a light shade of blue, preventing the colours becoming too bold or over matched; the accessories follow the same colour pattern; the neutral chino tone anchors it all effortlessly and fits in with the casual element of bright colour.
The first reason the outfit works – without this it could never be as effective – is that blue and purple match as similar colours. The second is that the tan (with an almost orange base tone) colouring of the shoes contrasts with blue. When playing with colour, the next level is to match multiple colour elements, or tricky combinations.
Photo By: http://www.naplestreetstyle.it
Photographer: Vincenzo Schioppa
Again, the use of a bold jacket is the prime asset of this outfit. It makes me think I need one soon – and for those of you who already have one, it makes it obvious what a clever shopper you are (but don’t feel too smug).
However, what really interests me is the single example of colour that goes completely unsupported. The pocket sqaure is different to everything around it. In the past, my advice would have been to make sure it ties in with something: be it your tie, your shirt, a bracelet… anything. That advice will have to be rewritten.
I’m not sure what it is that allows this particular example to disprove the general rule, but it is probably because it’s been used with such confidence that it really needs no accompaniment. Patterned, bright orange, stuffed into the pocket – when you think about it, there is no need for it to team up with anything.
A few final details to note include gladiator sandals, which put a brilliant and unexpected spin on an otherwise imperviously formal look. He has also forgone the tie but still worn the shirt with the top button done up – is the Fred Perry polo shirt look going to take hold in a formal version? Maybe…
We now move onto our friends at Coggles’ street style section, to see what inspiration can be drawn from their photos this month.
This soft edged casual look demonstrates how the rules of colour become freer and easier when you create casual outfits. Those shorts, which look as if they’ve been tie dyed, boil washed and fermented all at once, are fine – or even good – in this context.
Individuality is the only aspect of fashion that I feel I can’t really comment on, after all “You must create your own style” (Raymond Loewy.) However, I will say that this guy has bucket loads of it, and it comes from the unusual parts of what he’s wearing: the pulled up socks, the necklace, the backpack and those shorts.
Yellow and blue. Very simple complementary colours, and when combined they can look brilliant.
The value of removing most of the trend-led stuff – the random detailing that you might wear just so you can be the only one with a vest with epaulettes and a watch pocket – is that you get simplicity. An outfit or item that does the job without excessive rubbish is powerful.
The balance between trend and simplicity is yours to strike, and undoubtedly will change over time. However, it’s worth noticing that a very simple combination can have just as much impact. Of the two main disciplines of fashion: trend-led and classical, this is a strong argument for classical simplicity and minimalism.
Yet more bold tailoring. This time though, we see not how to combine colours but how to use only one. In many ways, this is actually the harder skill, but follow three principles and it should work:
Finally, I’m going to disprove myself.
Using no bold colour combination this outfit hits you over the head with its brilliance.
But then again, he is wearing a multi-coloured bow tie and matching it with a denim jacket, then adding a vintage backpack just to round things off. He is some kind of genius.
Just goes to show that if you wanted to, you could ignore every rule, precedent and convention and still look great. In fact, I encourage it.
Use colour; there has never been a better time to. Had I got the money, I’d be buying three or four plain colour polo shirts right now, ready for the promised summer or else for carrying some excitement into the transitional autumn months.
Finally, I’d just like everybody to take note of the fact that I’m certain bow ties will be a major accessories trend this autumn/winter. I’d also like everybody to take note that saying ‘certain’ when talking about trends is almost always a mistake.
Make sure you get involved in the comments by letting us know your favourite street style images you have seen recently, and the reasons why you loved them so much.
Until next month,