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Neutral Territory

By Aleks Cvetkovic

Jul 13, 2022

Neutral Territory

The Jackal's Aleks Cvetkovic demonstrates the joys of cool, neutral tones when it comes to summer dressing.

There's something about neutral colours in summer. I love earthy tones at the best of times, but in the high-season cream, beige and biscuit have a subtlety that makes them particularly chic.

Drake's Spring / Summer '17 has plenty of neutrals, and lends itself to working touches of pale colour into your seasonal wardrobe. Neutrals are best used to soften staple shades of navy, dark grey and olive, or to make dark tobacco and chocolate tones that little bit more contemporary. The trick is not to be too obvious with it.

Let's extrapolate this out. Here, a lightweight merino crewneck in mink is layered with an easy cotton blazer in ecru, and charcoal tropical worsted trousers. The tone-on-tone pairing of crewneck and blazer is very of the moment in menswear-terms and the jacket's soft construction keeps things nice and easy. The trousers are dark and cool in colour so contrast with rather than complement the neutral upper-half. It's one of those pairings that shouldn't really work but does - the softness of texture in the plain weave trousers helps.

It's a look that feels understated but which is really quite different. It's not overpowering, but it pushes charcoal trousers in a new direction. Use a hanky with touches of beige and plenty of block colour to add some interest. The panama hat is a fun touch too, and brings in another natural colour.

Neutrals also freshen up classic combinations a treat. This look is a summery take on the timeless pairing of blue shirt and beige chinos. As just shirt and trouser on hot days, the outfit does the job, but the white linen overshirt adds character. This shirt is a clever piece from Drake's - at first it looks a little intimidating but it's surprisingly easy to wear - white will go with anything after all. I stuffed a cotton-cashmere hanky in the breast pocket because I feel naked without one, but really it's the cream scarf that brings everything together. Again, the look isn't loaded up with neutrals, just a couple of pieces lend accents of light, warm colour.

In this third, more formal look, neutral tones lend a nostalgic, easy quality that keep things the right side of fussy. Drake's has two superb navy and beige checked sports coats this season, both in chunky silk-linen blends and equally desirable. One is a classic glencheck, the other this interesting barré stripe. Texturally it's quite busy, and the combination of navy and beige comes out dark and cool to the eye. Equally cool is the blue in the chambray button-down beneath and that of the plain navy linen trousers. For something that contrasts nicely, a burgundy and ivory printed hanky adds a pop of red that's not too brash, while the tie's terracotta and ecru stripes add further warmth of tone. There's lots going on, but the neutral touches running through keep everything grounded.

What've we learned then? One: neutrals lend a gentle sense of warmth to a summery look. When they're pitched right, they'll help your staples to go further. Two: don't load up on them for the sake of it. They're a great way to accent an outfit but are best used in combination with the classics.

In many ways, neutrals are an essential part of the Drake's recipe for dressing well, understated and relaxed. There is also a great pleasure to getting them right - they push the comfort zone of classic style but in a subtle way. They make a statement without shouting and that alone is enough to count them an indispensable part of your wardrobe.

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