A Reader’s Question: Facing Up to Your Best Colours.

(Keep clicking, you can enlarge the photo should you want a closer view.)

I love hearing from readers. I get the best questions. The one that popped up in my mail box yesterday, got me thinking that I should cover some basics now and again. From the email:

I’ve also noticed you are familiar with Flusser’s Dressing the Man, the book that taught me being well dressed is learned and not genetic (so much for naive childhood notions).  Anyway, I’m sure you’re familiar with his assertion that a tie should be similar in shade to a man’s hair color so as to properly “frame” the face.  Granted, you’ve been doing this a lot longer than my five years, but I’m curious, in seeing your “New Year, New Tie” picture, you wear a yellow and gray striped tie and, by the looks of my computer monitor, this tie is much lighter than your hair color.  I must confess, it looks to me like your face/hair and dark coat are framing your white shirt and striped tie, instead of the tie and hair framing your face.  I realize this isn’t much to cause to a squabble about, but I’m genuinely interersted to know when Flusser’s “rules” can be broken?  I have no question about the quality of the tie (you’ve made it clear it’s second to none in craftsmanship), but isn’t it better suited for someone with light sandy brown hair?  Am I missing something as to how this compliments you or were you just a kid in a candy store when it came to laying your eyes on a new, incredible tie?

As you know, I’m interested in improving quality of life through entertaining, cooking, cultivating a good eye, improving my manners and dressing a little better than I have to.

That last bit means that I play with clothes. I like them. The tie to which the reader refers is shown in the photo above. I’ve had a hankering for a yellow and grey tie since spotting one in “Clothes and the Man” by Alan Flusser, and I really shouldn’t be wearing it at all.

Here’s how to boil down personal colour theory without relying on the four seasons method so popular in the ‘eighties. Dark hair + light skin = contrast. Similar hair and skin colour requires tonal or a more muted palette.

Or, think of your face as a painting. Your hair and whatever is under your chin frame it. Choose to frame it well and all the attention will be diverted to your chiseled mug.  In the photo above, your attention will be called to my hair, and my blazer as the shirt and tie sort of form a bland column that leads right through my face, instead of to it, or, on closer inspection, perhaps to my tie.

To give you an idea of how this plays out with suits, neckwear and accessories, take a look at the following gallery compared with the photo above. Simple blue coat, white shirt, ties, and spectacles. But they do make a difference if you want to show your best side.

This is just a start, to face up to your best colours, our man in Manhattan, is still the source. If you haven’t read it, please pick up a copy today. Thank you for your attention.Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion

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3 Responses to A Reader’s Question: Facing Up to Your Best Colours.

  1. DP says:

    Something that a lot of books fail to address is what happens when your hair turns gray. I had auburn hair and a fair complexion before and wore lots of typical Autumn colors but now that my hair is predominantly gray, I’m not sure what the proper tact is. I have brown/hazel eyes and wear prominent glasses (think Colin Firth in “A Single Man”) because I look washed out without them. Any suggestions? And thanks for your blog. I always enjoy it.

  2. Hello DP, always a tough call without a photo, but I’ll try. As we age, we tend to “fade” a bit. (I’m going salt and pepper myself and that year ’round tan is long gone.) The object is to avoid stripping more colour from your features. Your specs might be in tortoiseshell and/or gold rather than hornrim, for example. In keeping with our facial/follicle drift toward tonality, opt for slightly more muted colours in the same palette that you had before, shirts should be paler blue, and suits slightly lighter shades than before. Sportcoats — think marvelous tweeds and patterns incorporating the Autumn colours. Add a pop of colour with a necktie, scarf or pocket square to bring out some colour in your face — burgundy, perhaps, or brick red or something. Try it out at home using the garments you have at hand.

    Also, if you’ve an iPhone or iPad, try Flusser’s Bespeak application. He does address the gracefully aging gent in “Dressing the Man.”

  3. DP says:

    Thank you for the suggestions!

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