The airs and graces of a man’s wardrobe.
How many can you name?
Do you know as many as my kids do? Maybe even all 64 in a giant Crayola box?
If not, don’t worry.
It’s not crucial when it comes to style.
What’s more important when it comes to colors?
Knowing how to match them.
Does that sound daunting?
Although dissertations have been written on color coordinating your wardrobe, the basics really are quite simple. All you have to remember are these 3 quick rules for combining colors effectively (courtesy of my friend Barron).
Trust me, it’s a lot easier than you might think.
For this article and video, I have collaborated with Barron Cuadro from Effortless Gent, a men’s style blog that guides you towards building a lean wardrobe.
Do you ever look in your closet and think “I have all this clothing, yet there’s nothing I actually want to wear”? If so, you’re in luck! Barron has helped lots of men like you take advantage of a flexible and interchangeable set of clothes for daily use. He makes it an effortless task regardless of your age, body type, or budget.
Whether you’re starting your wardrobe from scratch or just bringing in a few classic pieces to fill in the gaps, I highly recommend browsing Effortless Gent. You might also want to visit the EG online store for some stylish items that will upgrade your wardrobe even further.
Now for Barron’s 3 essential rules for matching colors in your clothing…
Think of all the possible clothing color combinations like a pizza. You’ve got the base made up of bread and cheese, and then an assortment of toppings that cater to different tastes.
Which would you say is more important: the base or the toppings? No-brainer! What kind of pizza has no crust? Similarly, a stylish outfit needs a good base of neutral colors like these:
- Navy, Light & Sky Blue
- Brown & Khaki
- Olive Green
These are the colors that go with most others. They set up the foundation for your outfits, making your job of finding matching clothes in your closet much easier. That’s why they should constitute the majority of your wardrobe in terms of color percentages. With the right proportion of neutrals and non-neutrals, you can then focus on the next rule (and have fun with it).
Style Rule #2 – Use Small Pops Of Brighter Colors
This is where you do get to do a bit of experimentation. Just remember what happens to a pizza if you overload it with multiple veggies or meat types that don’t go well together. Same principle applies when it comes to color in your wardrobe.
The key, as always, is moderation. Stick with only small touches of 1-2 brighter colors to prevent them from clashing with or overpowering the rest of your outfit.
A yellow or pink pocket square, for example, will pair well with a charcoal sports jacket and all other neutrals you have on (white or light blue dress shirt, dark blue jeans, black belt, etc…). It will easily pop out with that combination. The same goes for a red necktie or gold buttons on a neutral-colored jacket.
Shoes are slightly trickier. While black is the only option in some cases, e.g. formal dress, shades of brown complement most of the neutrals above far better. So what’s your best bet here? In a nutshell, brown. For a more thorough explanation check out this article on how to match dress shoes with neutral-colored suits.
But what if you’re planning instead to wear a bright suit color for a friend’s wedding or another special event? A bit of trial-and-error is in order. Do a bit of research on your best options. Ask the groom’s opinion. Or the bride’s. And remember – there’s always Pinterest and Instagram to help you out!
Style Rule #3 – Consider But DON’T Overthink Your Skin Tone
When dressing up, men often wonder: “Does this color look good with my skin tone?” Ever asked yourself this? Don’t worry about this too much. It’s more a secondary issue, and not a huge limiting factor when it comes to what colors you can wear.
Shouldn’t skin color matter here? Well, yes, to a certain extent. But it should only play a part in about 10% of your decision-making when it comes to your color choices for clothing, and only after you’ve considered the two rules mentioned above.
It does help to know the type and amount of contrast between your skin tone and hair color. But that info should only require minor adjustments to your style. Don’t let your skin completely overhaul whatever you’ve taken time to put together. Stick to the neutrals and pops of color mentioned above and chances are you’ll look good regardless of your complexion.
Matching colors is largely a subjective skill. There are no official rights or wrongs. The rules listed in this post – and all other rules about color – are not strict. As much as it helps to follow them (especially if you’re just beginning to upgrade your style), there are times when you have to simply follow your gut.
With some practice, you’ll eventually be able to tell whether your outfit works with a single glance in the mirror. If you like what you see and the outfit suits the occasion, go ahead with it! Forget about how much it defies conventions. Be confident – and it’ll show. And confidence always looks good.
By the way, you might be interested in these unique clothing combinations that go beyond color choices. A lot of men would raise their eyebrows at the thought of trying them, but the final results are surprisingly awesome. You can pick up some great ideas from those who are adventurous enough with their style.