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.

Colour Basics

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):

The Basic Colour Wheel

  • Similar colours are next to each other. For example yellow and yellow-green is easy co-ordinate. When colours are close to each other in the wheels it’s easy to pick one colour and then build accessories of neighbouring colours. It’s also important to bear in mind warm (red, yellow, orange) and cold colours (greens, blues, violets). Always remember a fool proof way is to pair cold colours together but you can create great combinations by taking two cold and one warm; such as a navy suit, blue shirt and a red tie.
  • Complementary colours are opposite from each other in the wheel. Green and red are a perfect example. These colours are the hardest to pair together. Even though they ‘compliment’ each other, wearing them in their full strength is sometimes too much for the human eye to bear. What you can do is change the hue, so add white to red to make pink and you’ve got every Preppy kids summer colours of choice. There is no set rules for complementing colours, just experimenting, so see what works for you!
  • Contrasting colours have three colours between them in the wheel. For example blue and red or orange and violet. The best way to pair these together though is to make sure one of the colours is a darker tone, so for example navy and red. If they are both vivid colours they will compete with the eye too much.

You should also check out Matt’s other basic guides on the subject: Mixing With Monochromes | Combining Colours.

FashionBeans Street Style

FashionBeans Street Style

Look 1 (Left & Centre)

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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.

  • Charvet Slim-fit Cotton ShirtCharvet Slim-fit Cotton Shirt
  • Reiss Zoffany Gingham Check Shirt Forest GreenReiss Zoffany Gingham Check Shirt Forest Green
  • Etro Unstructured Cotton-blend Corduroy BlazerEtro Unstructured Cotton-blend Corduroy Blazer
  • Austin Reed Viyella French Navy Linen Bow TieAustin Reed Viyella French Navy Linen Bow Tie
  • Dockers Stone Stretch Twill D0 Skinny ChinosDockers Stone Stretch Twill D0 Skinny Chinos
  • Grenson Sharp Brogue BootsGrenson Sharp Brogue Boots
Look 2 (Right)

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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…

  • Pink House Mustique Lightweight Linen ShirtPink House Mustique Lightweight Linen Shirt
  • Topman Red Safari Linen Skinny BlazerTopman Red Safari Linen Skinny Blazer
  • Nudie Jeans Long John Stretch Black JeanNudie Jeans Long John Stretch Black Jean
  • Burberry Shoes & Accessories Cross-grain Leather Laptop CaseBurberry Shoes & Accessories Cross-grain Leather Laptop Case
  • Paul Smith Shoes Chocolate Leather Seberg SandalsPaul Smith Shoes Chocolate Leather Seberg Sandals
  • Allsaints Crush SandalAllsaints Crush Sandal
Coggles Street Style

We now move onto our friends at Coggles’ street style section, to see what inspiration can be drawn from their photos this month.

Coggles Street Style

Look 1 (Left)

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.

  • Asos Vest With Aztec Hem PrintAsos Vest With Aztec Hem Print
  • Topman Aztec Pattern Woven ShortsTopman Aztec Pattern Woven Shorts
  • Topman Brown Suede Printed RucksackTopman Brown Suede Printed Rucksack
  • Yves Saint Laurent Aviator SunglassesYves Saint Laurent Aviator Sunglasses
  • John Smedley Delta Sea Island Cotton-blend SocksJohn Smedley Delta Sea Island Cotton-blend Socks
  • Mens Converse All Star Hi Top White TrainersMens Converse All Star Hi Top White Trainers
Look 2 (Centre)

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.

  • Allsaints Lex ShirtAllsaints Lex Shirt
  • Reiss Bexhill Crew Neck With Pocket Detail Airforce BlueReiss Bexhill Crew Neck With Pocket Detail Airforce Blue
  • Asos Sweatshirt With Raglan SleevesAsos Sweatshirt With Raglan Sleeves
  • Ally Capellino Jimmy Tan BagAlly Capellino Jimmy Tan Bag
  • Topman Sunflower Yellow Skinny ChinoTopman Sunflower Yellow Skinny Chino
  • Allsaints Debut ShoeAllsaints Debut Shoe
Look 3 (Right)

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:

  1. Chose an appropriate colour. Vibrant blue is a good choice, as are burgundy and dark green. None of the three are going to cause epileptic fits and are solid and strong enough to stand up to being left alone.
  2. Mismatch accessories. Imagine the belt and shoes were both black, and that the folder and glasses both brown – it would undermine the whole outfit. By breaking up the standard belt/shoes match and cross co-ordinating, it can break up the regularity and uniformity that would otherwise be created. On such fine margins fashion rests. But, if you’re going to take the risk of using only one colour, you have to be consider the small things.
  3. Use classic items. A suit is perfect, because no one is going to look twice at the actual items – their focus will be on the colour. That is what you need to do too. Be conservative, and that will allow you to do much more: try a button down shirt and shorts, or a polo shirt and chinos.
  • Reiss Dash Satin Stripe Shirt WhiteReiss Dash Satin Stripe Shirt White
  • Asos Skinny Fit Indigo JacketAsos Skinny Fit Indigo Jacket
  • Austin Reed Slim Fit Blue Mohair JacketAustin Reed Slim Fit Blue Mohair Jacket
  • Smythson Crocodile-embossed Leather Ipad SleeveSmythson Crocodile-embossed Leather Ipad Sleeve
  • Asos Velvet Tassel Loafers With Leather SoleAsos Velvet Tassel Loafers With Leather Sole
  • Jimmy Choo Hamilton Tasselled Suede LoafersJimmy Choo Hamilton Tasselled Suede Loafers
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Photographer: Scott Schuman

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.

The Sartorialist Street Style Photo
  • American Apparel Poplin Long Sleeve Button-down Shirt With PocketAmerican Apparel Poplin Long Sleeve Button-down Shirt With Pocket
  • Topman Mid Wash Denim Western JacketTopman Mid Wash Denim Western Jacket
  • Farah Vintage Slim Chino In CordFarah Vintage Slim Chino In Cord
  • Austin Reed Viyella French Navy Linen Bow TieAustin Reed Viyella French Navy Linen Bow Tie
  • Herschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack CobaltHerschel Supply Co. Heritage Backpack Cobalt
  • Mens Converse Ct As Heathered Nylon Ox TrainersMens Converse Ct As Heathered Nylon Ox Trainers

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,