|—||Cary Grant (click to read the whole article in GQ)|
Few sartorial concepts repel me more than the seemingly pervasive desire to have a “pop” of color in a man’s attire. This is usually understood to mean taking a perfectly elegant outfit such as those worn above by SF member Axelman 17 and Vox, and defacing it with a red pocket square or bright purple tie or some such vulgarity, thereby transforming a gentleman into a clown.
The result is indeed a sort of “pop” of color. The absence of color in suit and shirt heightens the color of whatever bauble is put in the middle. The eye is then drawn to and fixated upon the bright color, away from the face, while the mind wonders if the wearer actually chose that pocket square or if they were shot in the chest with a paint ball gun.
The pursuit of “pop” usually arises from a worry that the dark suit-white shirt-grey tie combination is boring visually, or betrays a lack of iconoclastic vigor on behalf of the wearer. These concerns are childish. As evidence I point to the costume of males at high school proms: a dark suit, white shirt, and turquoise tie/pocket square matching set.
Do not make this mistake. Do not vandalize your own appearance. Do not assume that just because there isn’t very much color, you need some more. Did Mondrian sit in his studio thinking, “You know…I’ve got all these straight lines…maybe I need a circle somewhere?”
There is power in extremes. The high contrast “city” look depends on austerity to achieve its goals. The lack of color accentuates the silhouette, and draws the eye up to the face. As long as it is not covered by a VoxDot.
But for extremism to succeed, it must brook no compromise, and demand full commitment to the cause, lest it risk revolution and chaos. There is a place within tasteful menswear for wearing brighter colors, but that place is not with a dark suit and white shirt.
Feature on Antonio Liverano now up here.
My new favorite jacket - made by Napolisumisura, fabric is London Lounge oats linen.
Haters gonna hate on the high peaks of the lapels. If I had it to do over I might get them 1 cm or so lower, but I like high peaks.
My feature on Derek Rose at Pitti Uomo is now available here.
Feature on Madova gloves in Florence is now up here.
The FooBot is strong in you, Gus!
Anyway, I did choose two blue shirts that were quite different so I could illustrate my point. If I were to choose only one fabric for all my blue shirts, it wouldn’t be either of these. In fact, it would probably be the very fabric that Foo chose.
I doubt Foo’s fabric will ever feel quite so mismatched as the two cautionary tales I posted. But I still think there are times when a different blue would be better than the one that he’ll have to rely on.
In any case, I don’t mean to make it too much about Foo in particular, just thought it would be a useful point of departure for a discussion of the character and uses of various light blues. Thanks for the inspiration, Foo.
Kinds of Blue
Mafoofan has sparked a discussion of shirts. Battle through the brambly underbrush of caustic exchange that appears in a Foo thread as surely as a cloud of filth doth pursue Pig-Pen, and you’ll find some intelligent discussion of shirty matters.
Foo and I agree that solid light blue shirts should comprise the majority of most shirt wardrobes. Foo takes this a step farther and, as is his wont, proposes to wear to near exclusion copies of the same shirt design, all in the same fabric.
To me, this is, as Vox would say, gilding the silly. For there are many kinds of light blue. Whereas some situations call for a purplish caste, at other occasions a sky blue is best.
I attempt to illustrate in the nearly useless pics above. (My iPhone recently died. I took out my frustration by switching to a Windows phone. Do not make this mistake. You don’t know how wonderful an iPhone is until you’ve tried to use a Windows HTC phone. Among other things, the camera is horrific.)
As I hope you can see in the top picture, we do indeed have two different light blue shirts. One is what I’d call a baby blue twill. The other is an end-on-end in a more purplish hue.
First up we will try both with a grey flannel suit that has a little bit of purplish caste itself, and a tie somewhere between red and purple (pic on the right is more accurate on tie color). The cooler tones of the shirt on the right fit in much better than the brighter baby blue. The texture of the weave is also more appropriate, but the color is the most important thing. The baby blue is too spring and clear skies to wear with this flannel.
Next we move to something that fits clear skies better. Unfortunately the pictures here are truly deplorable, but I hope you can at least imagine the baby blue (on the right) fitting well with this pink tie and blue linen/cashmere/silk blend jacket. The cool purple fights against the bright colors of the jacket pattern and tie. The texture of the weave in this case battles with the nubbiness of the jacket and tie, whereas the smoother twill has no such issue.
Of course I’ve tried to choose outfits and blue shirts that make my point. For many outfits and pairs of blue shirts, it won’t matter too much which of the two blue shirts you choose. But given that you don’t have to limit yourself to one shade, why not explore a bit?
Not all light blues are the same. Discover your kinds of blue.