Many men have a tendency to wear the same clothes and accessories over and over again, and I imagine that some do it out of disinterested habit. For those who really do enjoy clothing, not knowing
how to successfully pair colors and patterns may be the reason. The other day, we discussed the color green in menswear. Today, I would like to take this a step further and discuss matching colors & patterns with blue and brown jackets & suits, using some beautiful illustrations from 1929.
Of course, it would be easy to always wear charcoal, navy and black suits and overcoats with a white or blue shirts and red, yellow or blue ties. Chances are, no one will ever consider you to be poorly dressed. Your clothes will be nothing more than an uninspired work uniform when they can be the expression of your character, your personality and your understanding of elegance. As an additional benefit, learning to match colors and patterns will allow you to get more out of the wardrobe you already own.
The Blue Jacket or Suit
In Naples, navy blue is undoubtedly the number one color in every well-dressed man’s wardrobe. Of course, crisp white shirts look great with it, as do light blue and pale pink. But you could also try to wear it with fine red stripes, a solid pale green, salmon orange, or other pastel colors such as yellow. If you decide to go with a more colorful shirt, opt for a more subdued tie in subtle micropattern or solids/stripes with interesting textures or weaves. Most of the time, something darker will look great with colorful shirts, for example a repp tie or solid knit tie.
If you like hats, a soft gray fedora will pair well with it. With a double breasted navy suit, consider a gray Homburg as well. With brown shoes, pair a blue suit with a light brown hat and sand colored gloves – the mix of neutral colors will look great with blue. In my opinion, it usually looks elegant if you choose your socks so they are related in color to your tie or shirt. On the other hand, cufflinks can be worn for a little more contrast; for example, a navy pinstripe suit, pale yellow shirt, burgundy tie, malachite green cufflinks, black shoes and a gray hat & gloves.
If you wear a navy overcoat, gray scarves are very conservative looking whereas red or copper make you stand out a little more.
Brown Jackets & Suits
Brown suits were exceptionally popular in the 1930s. Unfortunately, nowadays brown suits have not been very popular for the last few years, although brown is such a versatile color that looks great with almost anything. For shirts, avoid white (which looks harsh) and choose pale over dark blue. However, pastel colors ranging from green to red to yellow are great with brown. I have a pale green winchester shirt with a white collar and cuffs that looks splendid
in combination with a Madras tie and a three-piece brown suit. Of course, this is a more daring combination, but the vest tones down the overall effect of the colors and the patterns & colors remain subtle. For striped shirts, I recommend a blue background with red, yellow or green stripes. In order to make it a bit more formal, you can combine it with a subtly striped
tie and a white pocket square, collar and cuffs. Herringbone pattern ties in various colors such as green, yellow or red are also nice. As I mentioned before, brown enables you to wear many things, but if you choose one strong color like red or pink, keep your other colors muted or the combination will go from interesting to loud quickly.
How to Match Colors
When trying to figure out what color will match your suit best, the key is to put it all together before you put it on.If multiple patterns make you nervous, try imitating a combination such one in these fashion illustrations until you develop more comfort with mixing.
- First, think about why you are wearing a suit that day (wedding? cocktail party? work? just feel like dressing smartly?)
- Secondly, pick the appropriate suit and shirt. Here is your first opportunity to try something new, such as a pastel shirt. Place the shirt underneath the suit.
- Thirdly, take a few ties in various colors, patterns and textures and hold them next to the suit and shirt. In the beginning, you may need ten or more ties before you find one that harmonizes with the ensemble.
- Choose a pair of over the calf socks. The traditional rule is to match them to the color of your trousers. If you want to add a dash of color, look at the rest of the ensemble. With a blue shirt and red tie, maybe a pair of socks with these combined colors. Of course, the red and blue of your socks won’t match the tie and shirt exactly, but that’s the beauty – it all will form a unit without being perfectly matched.
- On to pocket squares. Never match it exactly to a the suit, shirt or tie, unless you choose a solid white or pale blue pocket square. Instead, try to pick a color from your outfit such as your socks or tie. If you have already used strong patterns or colors, consider a solid square.
- Consider the full combination. If you’ve selected multiple patterns, vary the size of the pattern for overall harmony, i.e. a large pattern tie, solid pocket square, and fine pattern on the socks and shirt. Swap out patterns that are too similar in size and texture.
Once you have completed this routine for a few months, I am positive it won’t take you as long anymore, and you will probably find a multiple combinations you really enjoy wearing. While this is great, you should switch it up, even if you just change the socks or the pocket square, or maybe get a tie in a similar shade with a different pattern. Over time, your accessory collection will grow and your possibilities of combining colors become practically endless. Of course, there will be days where you pick an outfit that was probably not ideal, too bold or bland. However, in order to develop one’s own style it is important to undergo this process and you will see that over time your taste changes as well. Things you may have loved years ago may just not be you anymore. In any case, use color to express your personality, have fun and be stylish!
Last but not least, what are your favorite color combinations for blue and brown?