By Kyle SlavinIt is time to discuss the most important, most abstract, and most objective aspect of a gentleman’s attire - accent colors.
We have spoken at lengths about the quality of fabric, the importance of tailoring, the style, the fit, and the history behind dressing well and looking good. (For example, our contributors could write the detailed lifeline of a high-quality suit, from sheep to shoulders. We just won’t let them.)
But what of color? Matching a man’s palette to their suit tone, pairing their primary color with accents and flair - there are an endless amount of possible missteps that a gentleman can make just by getting dressed in the morning.
Essentially, your overall appearance is a gauge by which others take “you” in. Bland color choices denote a bland character, and bold color choices mirror similar personality traits. For example, a purple tie and kerchief on a slate gray suit can project daring and liveliness in its wearer, but it only “works” if the guy wearing it is in fact lively and daring.
You are what you project. Bold choices denote a bold character, and the stronger the statement means the longer your image lasts.
Let’s get some basics down:
(Disclaimer: NEVER put pattern on pattern, no matter what the color may be. Checkered ties primarily pair with single-color shirts. And make sure stripes never attempt to complement stripes. It won’t work!)
THE BLACK SUIT - A staple of our business culture, this is the staunchest “frame” there is. Color-wise, black is the ultimate base and stands to contrast any bold complimentary color. (Yes, you can get away with a fuchsia or a bright red accent, but you better have a big personality.) And as the suit softens into a slate or metal gray, so too can your shirt and tie soften in hue.
BLUE - Traditionally a calming and soothing color that reflects intelligence and safety. Hence, many corporations’ logos involve blue, as do the clothing choices of those who work there. A safe choice in any environment, blue pairs well with a gray suit, and can be easily accented with a yellow tie (or vice versa). So, you have a big interview lined up? Be safe, wear blue.
PURPLE AND GREEN - These are the classic colors of royalty. They represent power and nobility, as they did back in Ancient Rome. Elegantly understated if worn correctly, the purple must air on the violet/softer side, and the green must be a vibrant and dark Emerald shade. As for suit accompaniment, purple tends to look better with a slate or pinstripe gray suit, whereas the green can be worn with either a blue or black suit. Both colors pair with a deep gold tie, as Rolex and the L.A. Laker uniforms exemplify. Go LA!
RED - Want to live dangerously? Try red - this color projects liveliness, fire, unpredictability, and emotion. It is instantly the most bold shade in the room, and it must be worn by someone who must instantly be noticed (think Jessica Rabbit). As the color red brings such a strong statement, it is difficult to pair with any color but black or white. No other color can hold up.
YELLOW AND ORANGE - As a primary color, stay away from yellow. Yellow elicits anxiety, frustration, and anger. Of all the colors of the spectrum, yellow is the brightest and most difficult for the eye to absorb. Yellows work well as an accent to a variety of blues and greens (see above), but there’s a reason that this color is a synonym for “cowardly”.
As for orange, unless it is late October, we would recommend against it as well. Our sources describe orange as “spontaneous and uplifting”, but it comes across as a weak and reserved color choice. Pairing horribly with most accompanying hues, it is our professional suggestion to steer clear of the citrus.
IN CLOSING, take the time to consider your pairings. Assemble your ensemble. Configure your display. For every man exists the right colors, creating an image that issues a statement long before any words are spoken.
We are all superheroes, and our outfits have power. What should your power be?