Pattern and Colour: Step One

Following up on yesterday’s late post, I decided to jump in with both feet and offer an example or two for consideration.

Pattern matching is an easy thing. Or it should be. Even the jeans wearing crowd with their plaid shirt and bow tie combinations has been experimenting with the look and the underlying theory is exactly the same for those of us who prefer trousers to jeans. Tweed jacket, plaid shirt, neat pattern (stripe, say) tie. Add a solid or tone on tone wool waistcoat and you’re right on target fashion wise. Eddie Ross has mastered the look.

So where do you begin? I honestly don’t know if I start with a suit or sportcoat or the shirt and tie. So, let’s work from the inside out.

(Larry King, eat your heart out.)

Here you see a tonal mix. Maroon, cream and grey stripe shirt, maroon and cream dot tie and maroon and blue stripe braces. Matching stripes and dots is classic. As is the case with all pattern matching, scale is important. You wouldn’t want to go any smaller with the dots on the tie. A pindot, in my opinion at least, would be lost. The braces and shirt don’t clash since the width and heft (for lack of a better word) of the stripes vary greatly. This combination goes well with a navy or grey suit. Or a glen paid, windowpane or chalk stripe. But that’s to be proven another day.

But what about adding a jacket into the mix? Just to give you a bit more to chew on.

(Today’s fine line striped blue and white shirt and woven patterned tie.)

I’ll stick with a tonal mix for this first Easy and Elegant Life pattern mixing tutorial. Here we have a very fine stripe mixed with a medium sized patterned tie. Blue and white shirt, blue, tan and gold tie, gold collar pin. The obvious choices would be a blue or grey suit.

(Wheat coloured sport coat with a sky blue windowpane over plaid.)

Instead I chose a sportcoat that plays nicely with the gold in the tie and the blue in the shirt. Adding a navy and gold pocket square seamlessly blends it all together. The rule-of-thumb is to start with the smallest pattern at the center and get larger as you go toward the shoulder. Fine line shirt, neat pattern tie, windowpane overlay and finally the pocket square with its exploded pattern. Pair the above with darker grey trousers, although navy blue would work.

Thus endeth the lesson.

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2 Responses to Pattern and Colour: Step One

  1. George says:

    Excellent recommendations Chris! I love the concept of the smallest pattern in the center, and expanding as you move outward. Many times when I attempt to match patterns (or even colors for that matter), that I tend to make the obvious choice. Striped red and white oxford under a navy blazer? Solid silk red pocket square… That type of issue is what I struggle with, and I think your suggestions will help immensely.

    I’d love to see this group of lessons expanded to other areas. I’ll even give you a jumping off point… I recently bought a beautiful Zenga suit, that is very light grey (think sharkskin grey). On one hand I think that it absolutely needs to have black shoes and belt with it. On the other hand, I can see it working with oxblood, or even very light brown leather. Any chance you can help some of us that are still desperately attempting to achieve elegance, regardless of how easy it is?

  2. Stay tuned George. And wear the brown shoes (light in summer). In fact, wear brown shoes always, except with black. At least before six in the evening. Well,oxblood with navy.. Oh, that’s another post.

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