Many gentlemen worry too much about how they match the different components of their outfit. There are few things more juvenile then a man with a perfectly colour coordinated outfit. One of the keys to dressing stylishly is not trying to be perfect. The famous Italian term ‘sprezzatura’ is defined as  “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it’. In summary it essentially refers to being effortless.

One of the key strategies to finding this effortless style is learning the art of contrasting. Contrast can be found by mixing different colours, patterns and textures and can be daunting for some gentlemen as its tough to find the right balance. This contrast should be across the whole outfit from your shoes to your accessories.

As a start, its important to keep things simple. Choose one or two champion items that feature a pop of colour, pattern or different texture. From here keep the rest of the outfit simple allowing for a high level of contrast between the items. A few key points to remember include:

  • Keep 80% of your outfit in the same colour palette (For example, a navy suit, black shoes, white shirt and orange knit tie).
  • Minimise differing patterns as much as possible (For example a windowpane suit should be met with a plain shirt and tie).
  • On the contrary, minimise too much of the same pattern (For example, never wear a striped shirt with a pinstripe suit).
  • The same rules as above apply to differing textures

Below are some good examples of the right balance of contrast followed by a few questionable examples.

By keeping his shirt white, the beautiful Grenadine knit tie is the champion of the outfit. The earthy tone of the suit is smart and the corduroy fabric is subtle enough to compliment the tie.

This gent was able to champion a strongly patterned suit as well as tie. By keeping his shirt and pocket square plain, and tie colour complimentary to the brown, the balance of neutral colours is spot on.

Great example of contrast by means of formality. The addition of the jeans keeps the outfit casual and champions the jacket as the centre piece of the outfit.

This outfit is all over the place and easily an example of too much contrast. The term ‘understated contrast’ is important. Differ the texture and colour between items however 80% of the colour palette needs to be complimentary. In this example the suit, shirt, tie and pocket square all trying to be champions.

This outfit could have been great but there’s too many elements trying to win your eyes over. The polka dot pocket square is fighting the bold suiting pattern as is the neck tie. A white pocket square and darker navy tie would have provided an elegant look where the suit pattern really stole the show.

The dark colours of the outfit has meant nothing really stands out at all. A simple addition such as a plain white shirt would go a long way. As a rule of thumb, a plain tie can be met with a pattern shirt, but a pattern tie should nearly always be worn with a plain shirt.

Too much matching is the opposite of effortless and isn’t a good look. Your tie and pocket square should never be wholly the same colour. You’re dressing for business, not a high school formal.

Keep things simple. If you have any questions or want to chat about a new suit or garment, please get in contact. Our Sydney showroom has an extensive range of Italian fabrics, ties and pocket squares. Our bespoke and made to measure service in Sydney works around your schedule.

Miles Wharton – Founder – The Bespoke Corner

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