Fashion  Men's fashion: how to combine colors?
05/01/201508:13 Bonnegueule
This article is part of the best-of : How to combine colors? Stop thinking too much -
It includes tips, rules and pictures to help you understand and choose your clothes...

What colors should be worn in men’s fashion?

Combine the 3 basic colors: bluebrown and grey:

It might be a shame but we have less choice than the ladies regarding the range of colors. In fact, a men’s wardrobe is always based on 3 basic colors: 
bluebrown and grey (plus the colors constituted by these such as blue-greybrownish-greycamel).
Of course, there are other tones such as purple, burgundy and khaki that can be gently added but I offer you the challenge to get dressed in purple from top to toe without looking like a Power Rangers…

In opposition with what most people think: grey, brown and beige colors are much easier to wear than black sneakers.

This means you can definitely emphasize on these 3 basic colors especially if you are a beginner in fashion. Actually, grey is the easiest color to wear. It is wrong to think that it gives you a sad look, which is a common belief. I suggest you to mix and play with the contrasts, shapes and fabrics. In addition, grey can be used to soften strong colors such as red burgundykhakipurpleflashy blue, orange...
If you select your clothes from these 3 basic colors, you just CAN NOT go wrong when combining them!

The colors of clothes you shouldn’t wear excessively:

There are some colors that should really be used with caution. In particular those primary and secondary (the one we were painting with in nursery school)! Those shades are simply too bright and lack subtlety. You can wear them but not in excess: one item should already be enough.
The mix of the 3 primary colors makes 3 secondary colors, which are perfect for Mother’s day but far too gaudy for being put inside an adult wardrobe…

Choose the right colors: black and white case (very difficult to match):
First of all let’s talk about another common belief: black and white colors are NOT the easiest colors to wear. And they don’t suit everyone. In opposition it is very difficult to know how to combine these colors as they are located outside of the color spectrum.
If you wear black color with very light colors only the black will be noticed. The same happens for the white color if worn with too much dark colors.

Moreover, these colors are not convenient because:
_White tends to turn grey after several washings or after time
_Black soon becomes faded unless you have bought high-quality clothes, in which case the color will stay longer

This is why you should think twice before wearing them. If ever you buy black clothes, you should do it because you have a precise idea in mind and not because you think there is no alternative. As a reminder, if you are looking for the “easiest choice” (which is totally understanding when you begin): well, forget B&W and pick up the grey!

Rick Owens Fashion Show will give you good ideas if you want to wear black and white. Make note of how the model’s hair, the complexion and hat’s colors are well integrated to the rest of the outfit. All of this is very subtle but it does make these outfits work in terms of colors.  

Take it easy and think about contrasts! 

Now that you have stopped bothering yourself about colors (simply because its eventually very easy to choose grey, blue or brownish tones), lets talk about the next key concept: contrasts! Don’t skip this part of the article, as it is the most important!
If you had to remember only one thing before moving on to other articles, it should be the following sentence:

"The contrast between the clothes should be of the same range as the contrast between hair and skin complexion."

Since the beginning, our eye has always been attracted by contrasts and by whatever stands out from something. This is part of the inheritance from our ancestors as hunters and pickers. Therefore, the attention from the observer will go to the most contrasted part of your outfit. You have to keep in mind that the objective here is to attract attention to your face while wearing an outfit with just the right amount of personality.

If you have a light skin complexion and a light hair color, then wearing an outfit with strong contrasts (black and white for example) won’t bring your face out.

On the other hand, if your complexion and hair color are very contrasted (a light skin tone with dark hair color) but if your outfit hasn’t got enough contrast, then your clothes will have the effect of a plain pyjama, because all the focus will only be directed to your face.

Lets have a look to some pictures to understand better. I have added a black and white filter to the photos in order for you to better see the contrasts.

✍  If you have a strong contrast between skin complexion and hair, how to match colors?


Here is an example of a strong contrast between the skin complexion and hair: Jean Dujardin

On the left: the black and white contrast is slightly too strong compared with the tanned skin
On the right: the grey suit looks better as the contrast is lower: the whole outfit looks better balanced

✍  You have an average contrast skin tone with hair color, how to combine colors?


Example of an average contrast hair / skin: Justin Timberlake

On the left: there isn’t enough contrast in the outfit but there is a contrast in the face: the pyjama effect
On the right: the 
outfit is more contrasted and gives a better balanced result


✍  You have a low contrast hair / skin tone, how to combine colors?


Example of a low contrast skin / hair: Ryan Gosling

On the left: there is far too much contrast with this suit: the black bow tie together with this immaculate white are wiping off the celebrity’s face
On the right: there is a similar contrast than with complexion and hair, the outfits does highlight the face well

What colors should be worn for a black, mediterranean or asian skin tone?

This is a commonly asked question and there are particular cases.

If you have more like a mixed skin tone (like les frères Jo) then you can still follow the rule stated above: contrast between clothes = contrast between skin tone and hair color. It is the same for Mediterranean, Indian and Asian skin tone…

The contrasts are balanced (except for the shoes that have been added to bring some dynamism in the outfit using something that pops out slightly more). You have to keep in mind that rules can always be altered as long as you know what you are doing.

If your skin tone is black, you can still follow the rule for colors and with a bit more freedom: you just have to avoid the strong contrasts. I also think that dark colors can look better.

Here is an example of a nice range of colors on the left (Don Cheadle). On the other one, the colors are one tone lighter and I think the result is not as good.
However I don’t know really why, primary or flashy colors often match well the ebony colors complexions. So you can do your own experience. There are plenty of nice outfits to try! Without caricaturing, the colors of these Congo’s Sapeurs are very interesting, and these guys are often really good at creating formal outfits and combining colors.

Pink, red, royal blue, orange: I am not sure these suit many people as well as them

What about the colors repetition in an outfit?

Colors repetitions are a technic (too) often used by women. They use it to match colors of accessories together, make-up, nail polish, eye colors or hair highlights… And it does suit them.

Here are some tips to give you ideas in how to repeat the colors in your outfit:

_Match the color of your eyes with the color of an accessory like your tie, scarf, a shirt or the suit
_Match the color of your hair with the color of one of your clothes
_Combine colors of different pieces of the outfit in order to make it more consistent. For example: a scarf with red tones will help you to include burgundy shoes

Of course, these ideas on colors repetitions are just general rules: do your own experiences in front of the mirror with different clothes. The rule for contrasts is however very important.

The look books Sandro or Zara are often offering great ideas (even tough if the quality of clothes doesn’t follow)

For more information about this article, visit the Bonnegueule website
Founded in 2007, is a blog dedicated to men’s fashion. This blog brings men and clothes back together, thanks to many convenient tips, articles and brands tests.

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