Bold suits - choosing the rest of the look

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Holdfast, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    A thread to discuss your philosophy when selecting pattern/colour combinations for bold suits; strong stripes, vivid windowpanes, prominently contrasting glen plaids, etc, etc. Two pics posted on the board recently, in conjunction with a recent purchase of my own, prompted this thread. I did not like the other items used either of the outfits. One is this pic from the non-sartorialist thread and the other was in WAYWRN. My thoughts (not to be taken as didactic advice, merely opinion): - The obvious safe option is to go solid-solid for both shirt and tie. This can work, but is often a safe choice that can seem timid, as if the wearer is uncertain about the suit. It's best when done in stark contrasting colours, eg. black tie, white shirt, where the colour contrast provides enough strength to match the suit even if they're solid items. - I've grown to really dislike most striped shirts - especially bengal or thinner stripes - with almost any truly bold suit (note: I wouldn't place normal pinstripe suits in this category). Solid shirt, patterned tie is a better option, if the tie pattern can stand up to the suit's boldness. A paisley, for instance, or maybe a regimental or blockstripe. - Patterned shirt, solid tie feels "uneven" somehow, as if there's a visual gap in the centre of the outfit, pulling the eye towards it, and away from the face. - Checked shirt, patterned tie is very difficult with a bold suit, but I think creates some of the best looks. The balancing act here is a real high-wire act, requiring both correct scale of pattern on the tie and size of check, as well as the right colours. Very difficult; but still worth having fun experimenting with. Will fail more often than it will succeed, for everyone, regardless of experience level. - Keep the shoes out of the limelight. Let the tie (and square) do the work of matching the boldness of the suit. The only exception to this would be if you've gone solid-solid for the shirt-tie, in which case something more vibrant in the shoes may work. That's kind of where I try to come at the challenge of using bold suits, but I'm very interested in how you do it too. Do you try to subdue the suit or match it? What's your philosophy? Pics very welcome, too!
     


  2. S. Magnozzi

    S. Magnozzi Senior member

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    Whilst I do not care for dressing bold per se, I believe a bold suit need subdued shirt and tie, lest you look too contrived. There are exceptions, but very few can dress bold without looking clownish.
     


  3. TRINI

    TRINI Senior member

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    Whilst I do not care for dressing bold per se, I believe a bold suit need subdued shirt and tie, lest you look too contrived. There are exceptions, but very few can dress bold without looking clownish.

    I'm with him on this C.

    I don't think the more soporific or sedate shirt/tie combos with the bold suits should be viewed as timidity; rather, it's more recognizing that the suit is flashy enough to speak for itself.

    The other components should be complementary, not competing with the suit.
     


  4. NewYorkBuck

    NewYorkBuck Senior member

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    I try to limit my outfit (suit, shirt, tie) to only one bold item. If I do two, the third had better be a solid in a decidedly non-bold color.

    FWIW - Today I have on a bespoke navy with strong white pinstripes. Shirt is white w blue/tan check. Tie is solid copper Borrelli. About as wild as I go.....
     


  5. MBreinin

    MBreinin Senior member

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    I can't go bold or vividly patterned with a tie. I can't wrap my mind around it and make it work. I will choose a striped shirt though on occasion, but it will subdued.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     


  6. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    ^ You see, I find the third look by far the best. The first is a little flat, the second slightly jarring. The patterned tie of the third echoes the bold look of the suit. The suit overwhelms the rest of the look in the other pics. Duke of Windsor, using checked shirts and patterned ties: [​IMG] [​IMG] (thugh the jumper in the second pic acts much like a solid shirt would, to break up the look)
     


  7. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    David Niven, going for solid shirt, blockstripe tie [​IMG] And solid shirt, regimental stripe [​IMG] (ok, second one is a sportcoat, but the same principle applies)
     


  8. MBreinin

    MBreinin Senior member

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    ^ You see, I find the third look by far the best. The first is a little flat, the second slightly jarring. The patterned tie of the third echoes the bold look of the suit. The suit overwhelms the rest of the look in the other pics.


    Duke of Windsor, using checked shirts and patterned ties:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    (thugh the jumper in the second pic acts much like a solid shirt would, to break up the look)


    Yeah, but that pattern is very subdued. I have worn that first suit with patterned ties....the chorus was "go solid."

    Here you go:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     


  9. Xenon

    Xenon Senior member

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    FWIW I really like the suit in the sartorialist but cannot get away from the collar gap and timid shirt color. It is just not impressive and boldness is about impressiveness.

    I love bold suits and believe that a strong contrast is key as you put it. Only one bold item makes may feel like this is the first time you are wearing bold and not sure how to do it. Yes timid.

    All items must work together and have a relatively similar level of boldness while maintaining the contrast. A solid shirt can work but if the color is subdued the tie should be a knockout with radiation warning. However always pay attention to the color wheel. The very toughest to pull of is little or no contrast but bold all around. I try to do this sometimes and fail half the time.

    A solid tie is really tough to do if you want to maintain consistency of impressiveness unless you are talking about a really radiant color like gold. I personally dislike solid ties.

    A bold paisley tie is about the most universal option when combining with a bold striped shirt (which I love) and bold suit. In particular paisley ties that are predominently purple/fuschia and gold are about as universal as you can get in the bold category - it becomes more jewelry then simply cloth.

    And believe it or not but I feel the crowning touch to a bold outfit is the contrasting white cuff and collar shirt
     


  10. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    I have a couple of bold suits I like. I generally wear solid color, small polka dot, or muted repp ties.
    Small pattern pocket squares that play off the shirt color, or a plain one.
     


  11. S. Magnozzi

    S. Magnozzi Senior member

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    ^ You see, I find the third look by far the best. The first is a little flat, the second slightly jarring. The patterned tie of the third echoes the bold look of the suit. The suit overwhelms the rest of the look in the other pics.


    Duke of Windsor, using checked shirts and patterned ties:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    (thugh the jumper in the second pic acts much like a solid shirt would, to break up the look)


    Granted that it's hard to ascertain the colour of the Duke's clothing, I think it is of import to consider. Wearing stripes or windowpanes doesn't necessarily mean bold to me. It's often a combination of 'bold colours' more than bold patterns, where I believe muted colours would work better overall.
     


  12. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    It used to be said that the best test of whether a man knew how to dress was how he looked in bold patterns.

    The criterion for success was that the eye should not stop on the clothing but continue to the face as it is meant to do. That is accomplished by blending shoes, tie and shirt with the suit. The easiest way to do this is to repeat secondary colors in each element.

    Examples here.
     


  13. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    I have worn that first suit with patterned ties....the chorus was "go solid."

    Here you go...


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Compared to these two looks, the solid tie was absolutely correct.

    That doesn't mean it's the optimal choice, just that I don't think either of these two work at all. The last one is shockingly bad. The tie of the second would be a nice choice with the suit though, with a pale cream solid shirt, or even a (micro-)checked shirt.

    I have a couple of bold suits I like. I generally wear solid color, small polka dot, or muted repp ties.

    Polka dots. I hadn't thought of that. That IS a very bold choice. I don't think I own any true polka dot sized ties. A fair few smaller dots but big polkas, no. Interesting!

    Granted that it's hard to ascertain the colour of the Duke's clothing, I think it is of import to consider. Wearing stripes or windowpanes doesn't necessarily mean bold to me.

    Good points. It is difficult to be sure what colour the Duke's clothes are, but I suspect they are both strong earthy colours, as well as being bold patterns.
     


  14. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    It used to be said that the best test of whether a man knew how to dress was how he looked in bold patterns.

    The criterion for success was that the eye should not stop on the clothing but continue to the face as it is meant to do. That is accomplished by blending shoes, tie and shirt with the suit. The easiest way to do this is to repeat secondary colors in each element.

    Examples here.


    Fantastic article Will. Thank you for linking to it!

    Both those looks deploy contrast-collar shirts (echoing something Xenon also mentioned upthread) and patterned ties but as you say, in very complementary colours. I like. A lot.

    Very, very difficult to do, but quite splendid. Something to aspire to.
     


  15. MBreinin

    MBreinin Senior member

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    Compared to these two looks, the solid tie was absolutely correct.

    That doesn't mean it's the optimal choice, just that I don't think either of these two work at all. The last one is shockingly bad. The tie of the second would be a nice choice with the suit though, with a pale cream solid shirt, or even a (micro-)checked shirt.


    You won't find me caught dead in a cream colored shirt, HF. [​IMG] I wear white, blue, blue and white stripes/checks/gingham and pink and white Oxfords. Other than that, I really don't branch out. I have olive skin, so I really don't want a shirt that is close to my skin tone in any way.

    I like that last tie, but I freely admit it was a monumental fail with that suit.

    Of course, given my choice..I will choose a dark blue knit tie about 75% of the time I wear a tie. I have 5 or 6 of them and I wear them quite often. They just seem to work with most of my clothes.

    Mike
     


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