There’s a guy on StyleForum who likes to give me heck for wearing simple colors. According to him, my choices are too boring and repetitive – navy and brown for tailored jackets; white and light blue for shirts; mid- and light-grey for trousers. He favors things that are louder and more expressive, such as red and purple for sport coats.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wearing loud colors if you can pull them off (Barima in London wears them well). But here’s my case for wearing simpler choices.
At the heart of it, it’s a mistake to boil tailored clothes down to just colors. Suits and sport coats are much better defined by their silhouettes. Just see this run down of six different tailors and their house styles, for example – the structured angular cut of Richard Anderson compared against the softer, rounder style of Antonio Panico. None of these jackets look alike, despite five of them being charcoal or blue.
Even when things are made by the same tailor – such as the five examples above from B&Tailor – things can come out dramatically different depending on the details. A navy fabric can look different depending on the sheen, weave, and any subtle pattern. Add to this the pocket and closure styles, and suddenly you can have a whole line of navy suits where no two look alike.
Here’s the real advantage of relying on simple colors: it makes dressing well easy. You can wear the same thing multiple times a week without anyone noticing. The jackets can differ depending on the silhouette and details, but you can really change their look with your tie and shirt combinations. Louder sport coats, on the other hand, can be worn once a month, maybe even once a season, before you become “that guy in the crazy jacket.” Unless you’re willing to have a massive wardrobe, loud colors just take up valuable closet space. Blues, grays, and browns, on the other hand, play well with each other, which makes building a wardrobe simple.
Back when he was still blogging, our friend Graeme was one of the best dressed style bloggers around. Turns out, he only had seven suits at the time (which isn’t many for a guy who had to wear a suit every day for work). Nobody would have guessed he had a small wardrobe, however, because he relied on simple colors and changed things up with his shirts and accessories. The key to his looking great: good tailoring. And while it’s possible to wear loud colors well, William Phips put it well recently – it can be hard to notice good tailoring when other things in your outfit are shouting.
(photo via B&Tailor)