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The colour palette of classic menswear


Well-Known Member
May 7, 2024
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I'm trying to develop my wardrobe, and I'd like to hear how people use colour relating to this aesthetic. What do people view as the 'essential' colour palette of classic menswear and the incorporation of bolder colours? I think it's important to understand the 'rules' of a particular way of dressing so to speak if you at all intend to break them and introduce your own stylistic spin.

As far as my admittedly basic understanding is concerned, broadly speaking the 'base' colours are navy, grey, black, white, brown and earth tones. I get the sense that bolder colours are mainly reserved for accessories like scarves, handkerchiefs, ties, watches, socks and maybe knitwear. That is not to say they are not used in suiting, outerwear or pants.

As someone in their twenties taking inspiration from traditional menswear however, I do enjoy these traditional colours, but I think I have a tendency to associate the 'standard' palette of greys, browns, beiges etc with 'dated' dressing. Of course, cut, silhouette, fabric etc makes a world of difference and they form the foundations of a wardrobe, certainly. Now though I'm looking for ways to add colour, but without coming off as too strong or doing so purely for attention, rather a deeper meaning pointing toward an aesthetic. I'm particularly attracted to deep blues, teal, turquoise shades of green, oranges, pinks, creams and some reds. I want to add these colours, but the previous is quite the mishmash and I would like to develop a coherent aesthetic that fits together with colour usage if that makes sense?


Senior Member
Dec 20, 2022
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The reason bold colors are more commonly seen in accessories is that they form a smaller % of your overall outfit. A bright orange scarf would be easier to pull than a bright orange suit. Big and bold pieces would require that you plan your outfit around them, so they're less versatile and often not recommended for people just starting out (likely with a small wardrobe size).

That said, if you like it, you like it. Try it out, plan your outfit around one bold colored piece at a time (don't start mixing 5 bold colors at once, you'd less likely succeed), see if you like how the bold piece meshes with other things. From my experience, paler (less saturated) and cooler (in color temperature) colors are easier to work with. I think dieworkwear wrote an article about color temperature, that might help with choosing colors that go well together.

Unusual colors will be also be more memorable, I have a pale light blue sport coat, and sometimes my coworkers who aren't really interested in clothing would remark, "Oh, is that the jacket you wore for the last company event?"

That might not necessarily be a bad thing, but if you have a small wardrobe you should consider if that's something you'd like.

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