In Full Colour
Sid Mashburn once said about a man’s wardrobe: “Guys don’t need a lot of options, they just need the right options.” And for the most part, we’re inclined to agree.
Contrary to what every chart-topping rapper would have you believe, it’s the simple, timelessly stylish pieces that make you stand out. Which is why most guys could have a wardrobe stocked with as little as thirty items and still be considered better dressed than 90 per cent of the population.
But Mr Mashburn’s theory doesn’t really stand up when applied to colour. Here, most men tend to be a little too reserved and conservative. We all know how relatively easy it is to pull off neutral looks made up of black, white, navy and grey, but if you really want to stand out from the sartorial pack, you’ve got to start embracing bolder hues.
Of course, it’s not easy (not that anything worth doing ever was), and the brighter end of the spectrum can be overwhelming, but introducing a welcome shot of colour isn’t as complicated as you might think.
Still hung up on pink supposedly being for girls? Then consider this: up until the end of the 19th century pink was – in the Western world – actually thought of as a masculine hue. Connotations of girlishness gradually came in the early 20th century as marketers repositioned pink as a feminine colour.
Whether dusty and soft or bold and bright, pink pairs well with plenty of colours you probably already have in your wardrobe – including brown, beige, blue, white and darker shades of green, such as olive.
However, wearing pink does come with its caveats. If you have fair skin, you should be wary of wearing too much of the hue close to your face as it can wash your complexion out. If this is the case, try balancing it with darker colours – for example, a pink dress shirt with a navy blazer and blue tie. Another option is to try a bolder, richer tone of pink instead.
An Oxford shirt is arguably the most versatile piece you can opt for in pink, as it teams well with everything from a brown tweed blazer and indigo jeans to a grey suit. Pink chinos or shorts are another great addition to your summer wardrobe, while pink socks can add the perfect pop to an otherwise understated outfit.
Colour Pairing Guidelines
These guidelines have been derived from the standard colour wheel. We will also offer our own recommended combinations.
Similar Colours (Easiest To Pair): Reds and mauve pinks.
Contrasting Colours (Harder To Pair): Blue violets and yellow greens.
Complementary Colours (Hardest To Pair): Blue greens.
Recommended: Brown, beige and white, along with darker shades of green and blue.
Pink Lookbook Inspiration
- Asos Chino Shorts In Mid Length
- Barbour Sweatshirt In Laundered Cotton
- Asos Oxford Shirt In Light Pink With Short Sleeves
- Reiss Edward Waffle Knit Jumper Soft Pink
- Reiss Stone Spotted Silk Pocket Square Blush
- Bobbies Magnifique Suede Driving Shoes
- Polo Ralph Lauren Slim-fit Button-down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt
- River Island Pink Slim Chinos
- River Island Pink Marl Crew Neck T-shirt
- Uniqlo Men Cotton Cashmere V-neck Cardigan
- Hartford Mid-length Swim Shorts
- Harrods Of London Textured Summer Jacket
Although this hue tends to remind us of the less than savoury fashions of the 1970s, attitudes are changing thanks to designers such as Tom Ford, J.W. Anderson and Miuccia Prada, all of whom are rebranding brown.
The perfect partner to this classic neutral will always be blue; the combination gives blue depth, while the brown appears richer (see Prada’s spring/summer 2015 denim- and leather-filled collection for an idea of what we mean). Additional complementary colours include earthy hues such as burnt orange, green, khaki, mustard and beige.
Although there’s a shade of brown that will work well with pretty much every skin tone, those of you with Asian or African skin will want to avoid hues that are too close in colour to your complexion, as it can make it appear dull and faded.
This timeless colour is likely already present in your wardrobe in some – albeit small – way, but why not try upping your quotient with some tan corduroys/chinos, a chocolate brown leather jacket, dark camel merino crew neck jumper, or even a simple pair of russet brogues/Derbies?
Recommended: Blues and earth tones.
Brown Lookbook Inspiration
- Wood Wood Jumper Double Aa Army
- Schott Leather Jacket With Collar
- Asos Skinny Chinos
- Next Brown Check Jacket
- Topman Tan Herringbone Braces
- Forbes & Lewis Littlehampton Leather Backpack In Brown
- Burton Dissident Brown Checked Shirt
- Hackett London Summer Parka Brown
- River Island Brown Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt
- Reiss Discover Contrast Weave Suit Dark Brown
- Uniqlo Men Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater
- River Island Brown Grosgrain Trim Fedora Hat
The most regal of hues according to the Ancient Romans and Greeks, purple is often one of the first colours men try when they’re looking to expand their palette, but often get wrong.
The easiest way to wear purple is to use it sparingly and as an accent, rather than making it the focal point of your look. It teams extremely well with beige, grey and shades of blue, from sky and duck egg to cobalt and teal.
Richer shades of purple tend to complement darker skin tones, while lighter, pastel variants such as lilac and lavender will work for fair or pale complexions.
Ties and pocket squares in purple are the ideal pieces to start with; combine them with suits in neutral colours and light-coloured shirts for maximum effect.
Purple dress shirts also look great when paired with navy or midnight blue suits, and for the especially ballsy amongst us – why not consider a purple blazer or pair of chinos for the coming summer months? Each is guaranteed to make a statement.
Similar Colours (Easiest To Pair): Blue violets and mauves.
Contrasting Colours (Harder To Pair): Reds and greens.
Complementary Colours (Hardest To Pair): Yellows.
Recommended: Navy, grey, white and beige.
Purple Lookbook Inspiration
- Quiksilver Sweatshirt With Chest Logo
- American Apparel T-shirt With Crew Neck
- Topman Washed Lilac Chino Shorts
- J. Crew Tall Italian Cashmere V-neck Sweater
- Paul Smith London Purple Byard Cotton Shirt
- Richard James Mayfair Contemporary Chambray Linen Jacket
- River Island Purple Burnout Crew Neck T-shirt
- Lacoste Cotton-pique Polo Shirt
- Austin Reed Long Sleeve Purple Oxford Shirt
- Topman Purple Slip Stitch Socks
- Charvet Herringbone Silk Tie
- Saucony Shadow 5000 Trainers In Purple
While most of us are no strangers to moss or khaki hues, there are so many other green tones that can be introduced to your wardrobe and help take your outfits to the next level.
No matter what shade you opt for, this masculine colour always looks best paired with blue, white and grey, while darker military variants complement similarly earthy hues such as brown and mustard wonderfully.
As for what you should look to invest in? A short-sleeved shirt or pair of chino shorts in mint green is ideal for crafting Riviera-inspired ensembles during the warmer months, while bright green details and accessories (socks, lightweight scarves, pocket squares, etc.) will add a striking element to an otherwise pared-back look.
Deeper variants like olive, avocado and hunter green are the most versatile though, with corduroy trousers, military-inspired blazers, bomber jackets and boots in these hues being particularly appropriate for autumn/winter.
An additional benefit of green is that it works with every skin tone, provided you take the time to find the shade that complements your complexion the best.
Similar Colours (Easiest To Pair): Yellow greens and blue greens.
Contrasting Colours (Harder To Pair): Reds and violets.
Complementary Colours (Hardest To Pair): Mauve pinks.
Recommended: Blue, white and grey.
Green Lookbook Inspiration
- Bellfield 5 Pocket Chinos In Slim Fit
- Allsaints Khalid Jacket
- He By Mango Slim-fit Corduroy Blazer
- Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Foliage Backpack In Mint
- Topman Green Harrington Jacket
- Ted Baker Lunate Leather Wrap Around Bracelet
- Acne Studios Cone Cotton-blend Twill Trousers
- J.crew Cotton-jersey T-shirt
- Incotex Slim-fit Cotton-blend Shorts
- M&s Collection Pure Cotton V-neck Jumper
- Reiss Thiago Fine Stripe Shirt Green
- Tods Gommino Driving Shoes In Suede
This one can be particularly tricky to get right and is often avoided, even by menswear’s most daring.
Much like purple, yellow is a statement colour that needs to be used sparingly and anchored using neutrals. With this in mind, always look to control it with surrounding pieces in white, blue, grey, beige and charcoal.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is finding a shade that doesn’t wash you out – especially if you’re of a fairer skin tone. While darker skin types will be able to pull off everything from corn flour to canary yellow, pale men will need to be slightly more cautious. If this applies to you, try darker yellow hues like mustard and gold, which should help lift your complexion.
Casual separates like cotton polo shirts, T-shirts, chino shorts and vests look great in yellow, especially if you combine them with blues. If you feel like upping the ante, why not embrace your inner Nick Wooster and opt for a pair of statement shoes or trainers? You’d be surprised how versatile they can be when teamed with dark denim or grey flannel trousers.
Similar Colours (Easiest To Pair): Yellow greens and oranges.
Contrasting Colours (Harder To Pair): Blues and mauve pinks.
Complementary Colours (Hardest To Pair): Violets.
Recommended: Neutrals – particularly white, pale grey, charcoal and navy.
Yellow Lookbook Inspiration
- Paul Smith Jeans Shirt With Contrast Detail Pocket Classic Fit
- Fjallraven Foldsack No.1 Backpack
- He By Mango Embossed-trim Pique Polo Shirt
- Allsaints Figure Crew T-shirt
- Topman Selected Homme Yellow Raincoat
- New Look Yellow Acid Wash Swim
- River Island Yellow Acid Wash Oxford Shirt
- River Island Yellow Slim Chino Shorts
- Freemans Sporting Club Winchester Slim-fit Cotton-twill Chinos
- Uniqlo Men Cotton Cashmere Crew Neck Sweater
- Thomas Pink Woven Pocket Square
- New Balance 574 Classic Running Trainers In Mustard
With brighter skies on the horizon, there’s no better time than the present to reclaim colour. Whether you’re looking for something to complement your complexion, or you simply want to liven up your spring/summer wardrobe, it’s worth re-considering some of the hues you thought you couldn’t wear.
Which of these brighter colours is the most appealing to you? Any tips on how to wear some of the more difficult shades on the list?
Let us know in the comments section.