G. Bruce Boyer takes umbrage with a monochrome wardrobe - what's wrong with a little bit of colour?
Among the bric-a-brac that often passes for fashion writing these days is the accepted wisdom of seasonal colours: warm-weather clothes may be bright and boldly-hued, but winter attire should be muted and dull. Now I want to ask a simple question: is there any legitimate reason for this? I can’t really think of one.
I understand the historical thinking about this in a vague, general sort of way: summer means holidays of sun, sand, and sea, while the most we can expect of autumn and winter is a walk in the woods wearing the muddy camouflage colours of fallen leaves. But why shouldn’t we make a more spirited sartorial excursion out of our winter wardrobes?
I'm not advocating another Peacock Revolution or anything here. I'm merely saying that there's a way to enliven the F/W wardrobe: the accent colours used in the accessories can make all the difference between a stylish appearance and being mistaken for faded foliage. The sweaters, the scarves, the neckwear, the pocket squares, those small touches that give us that certain savoir. What is style if not those individual gestures that invoke the personality and reveal our individuality? Those little dashes of wit that lend a grace note? Keeping the tailoring discreet, but adding a touch of spice. You know, working outside the box a bit without forgetting what the box looks like.
I take a back seat to none in my love of muted tweeds and flannels, the mossy greens and taupes, camels and olives and rusts that are so beloved of those of us who take our country wardrobes as seriously as our town ones. But why, in the chiaroscuro of human needs, shouldn’t these woolly rural tweeds have a few top notes of mustard, pink, or royal blue, magenta, and orange?
It’s not as difficult as some may think to add a dab of colour, particularly when we’re talking about the more casual wardrobe. Starting with a well-cut, muted gun club check tweed sports jacket, why not add a pair of green corduroys, a magenta Shetland crewneck and a tartan button down? What enlivens an outfit better than a pair of crimson or purple socks to accompany those tobacco suede slip-ons and fawn cavalry twills? A solid or block-woven royal blue cashmere scarf as an accent to grey or brown herringbone? And navy corduroys are an easy way to change up an outfit from the more trad tan ones everyone else is wearing.
Even those small but telling items create a nice note of nonchalance. A whimsical leaf green pocket square with the navy blazer? A purple sleeveless cardigan under a patinated tweed jacket? A mustard yellow cable knit crewneck worn with jeans? Or a Donegal flecked watch cap in burnt orange worn with anything? It’s those little touches of caprice mixed with tradition, a note of eccentricity within the bounds of basic decorum, a faint undertone of whimsy – that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? To avoid fashion and trends and create a style of personal flair instead?