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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Colors

An even more comprehensive suit/shoe color combo chart

Mark Kwak

A while back, I posted up a fairly in-depth infographic around what shoes you should wear with what suits. You can check out that post here. That original infographic was posted up by a fashion enthusiast redditor named r00tbeer on the subreddit MFA (male fashion advice). However, recently, it looks like he was bested by one of his peers on the same subreddit.

Below is an even more comprehensive infographic going over what type of suits go with what type of shoes. It's quite detailed, with information on what suit colors should be your first, which styles are more fashion forward than others, and even the different types of dress shoes out there. Take a gander, print it out, and paste it on your wall so you can remember not to wear your champagne suit with black shoes. Happy Friday folks.


Coordinating certain colors

Mark Kwak

I think that coordinating colors can be a great way to indicate to the world that you understand how style works. A simple matching of the belt to the shoe, or socks to the sweater can be a refreshing aesthetic for all to see. Today, I want to talk about coordinating colors a bit more subtly, and little techniques you can use to showcase your fashion knowledge.

For example, I just shot this picture right now (sorry for the shoddy quality), but this particular shirt has an interesting detail to it. It's charcoal all around, but the front pocket is actually navy.

pocketNow, why am I showing you this shirt? I'm showing it to you because it's a great example of a type of shirt that I can use to start matching colors around with. For me, that little hint of navy gives me a great excuse to add another navy piece to this outfit. Perhaps it's a pair of blue jeans, or my navy Vans.

In this case, I'm using the secondary color (navy), not the primary one (charcoal), to build my outfit around. And trust me, this isn't limited to a shirt with a mismatching pocket, I mean who really wears this type of shirt anyway?

Take a look at accessories, or pieces that have multiple colors in it (like a striped or plaid shirt). I think that matching up other parts of your outfit to the colors that are on that accessory, stripe or plaid just makes sense. If there's some light blue in your shirt, why not wear a light blue shoelace? It's those types of details that help ME know that YOU are in the know.

Below is an awesome example of why matching certain colors can make a huge difference in the aesthetic appeal of your outfit. In this picture, there is one guy who stands out to me. The guy with the pink flower on his lapel. Why? Because it works with the socks he's wearing. Sure, his socks won't be visible for most of the day, but the moment he sits down, that subtle detail of the pinks matching will make a huge difference.


So really, all I'm trying to say is that you should look at colors with a bit more intentionality. The subtle details can make a huge difference, and it's worth thinking about. Is your watch band olive in color? Try putting on some olive colored shoes. Got some red in your plaid shirt? Time to take your red wristband out. Purple jacket? Oh hi purple socks.

We all know it's good to coordinate colors overall, but take it to the next level and start complementing / matching some of the subtle parts of your outfit. Trust me, I've been complimented on some of those details even when I felt like there's no way anyone would ever have been able to notice.


Black & Brown

Mark Kwak

In the past, I've heard on numerous occasions that it's not smart to wear black and brown together. Brown shoes with black pants? Never! Well, I don't know what people were thinking when they created this "rule" of style in the past, but I have chosen not to follow it. Perhaps it's my rebellious nature, but more likely, it is my love for well-pulled-off black & brown outfits. I mean who can argue with this look:

 Source: Styleforum

Now, I will insert a caveat here: I don't think wearing brown with black is necessarily the best option all the time. And not all brown/black combos work seamlessly either; there are certain tips you need to follow in order to pull the look off with success. So let me give you those tips:

The first one is that you should make it look like you put the two colors together on purpose. Since so many people have this deeply ingrained rule of never pairing black with brown, it takes a little more effort to convince others that the pairing can actually look great. If you're wearing a pair of brown shoes with black jeans, add a brown belt to the mix. Or if you're wearing a black sweater with brown pants, add a pair of black shoes and socks to complete the look. Here's an example below:

gq coverSource: GQ

The second tip is that you should try and use a lighter brown when pairing with black. Think more desert camel, less Northwest grizzly bear. I personally think that lighter browns showcase a very aesthetically pleasing contrast from black when worn together. Look specifically for the color description "walnut."

And finally, remember to listen to your gut. If you like the look of brown + black, by all means, go for it. I personally love the look. If you don't feel that comfortable wearing the two colors together, then work with something else. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't avoid wearing the two colors together just because of an age old rule that told you that you couldn't.

Have fun with it. I know I will.

The essential color to wear with bold pieces

Mark Kwak

Source: GQ

Last weekend, I went out to a couple nearby parks to hang out in the sun with my friends. During my time at these parks, I noticed that my eyes were being pulled from place to place by the bright colored pants and shorts everybody was wearing around- men included.

Though I'm personally not much a fan of bright colored pants myself , I think they can look pretty attractive on a lot of people, and if you've been thinking about getting yourself a pair, I say why not? There's no better time than now (it's spring/summertime + bright colored pants are on trend at the moment, just check this article by StyleGirlfriend).

So now, if you've wholly decided that you'll be wearing this somewhat daring piece in the near future, I've got a tip for you: wear white too.

Source: Denimtherapy

Let me explain why. The more outlandish the color of your pants, the more difficult it will be to coordinate other pieces around that color. Ever tried to coordinate your shoes, shirt, and jacket around a pair of neon green pants before? It's doable, but it ain't easy.

Ah, but here's where the color (or shade?) white comes in handy. Luckily, white really does work with everything. It's basically a blank canvas on which you can layer different colors around- no matter how outrageous- and still look fine overall. Also, white is a great color to wear in the summertime anyway, as it's bright and refreshing to look at amidst blue skies and yellow sun rays.

So you have a pair of salmon shorts? Add a white V neck T-shirt.

Got bright red chinos? No problem, a white oxford will do just fine.

Violet pants? White polo to the rescue. 

If you're having a hard time deciding what to match your colorful pants and shorts with, just wear some white and be done with it. I'm not saying other colors don't work- they absolutely do. And, if you have the time and patience, definitely wear other colors as well!

However, sometimes it's kind of nice not to worry about what works and doesn't work with your pastel or colored pants. Knowing that a white shirt will do the job no matter what, is a pretty liberating thing. Besides, a blankness of a white shirt will bring the focus to your pants anyway, and if you're buying bright colored pants, isn't that kind of the point?


Some tips on color

Mark Kwak

Source: Menstyledigest

So you've been following a menswear blog for the last three months. You've subscribed to a fashion magazine, bought some higher-end clothing, and visited a tailor more times in the last month than the last 10 years prior! You're seeing sartorial progress, and becoming a simpler man.

So you're styling now. However, if you want to take your outfits to the next level, you'll have to start thinking about the details. Color is certainly one of those details, and coordinating them correctly can take a good outfit, and up-level it to a great one.

Here are my 7 tips on coordinating and using color to your advantage:

1. Complements are awesome : When you have the chance, take a look at the color wheel. In it, you can identify complementary colors, which generally look great together in an outfit. In case you don't know what complementary colors are, they are simply colors that are on the opposite side of each other in the color wheel. So red's complementing color is green, and purple's complementing color is yellow.

2. Keep it in the family : There's a beauty to outfits that have different hues of the same color in them. Personally, I love to wear light blue with navy, or brown with khaki in my outfits. Keeping colors in the same family is an easy way to make this happen.

3. If you're going to wear a bold piece, make it one at a time : If you're feeling a little spunky, and decide to wear bright purple, deep red, or neon green, make sure you limit it to just one piece. Bright yellow chinos might look decent when paired with a couple neutrals like gray or black, but the moment you add hot pink shoes to that same outfit, you'll be secretly laughed at by everyone who sees you.

4. Don't overdo one color : Green shoes, green pants, green shirts, green jackets, and green glasses... in one outfit. Perhaps cool in theory, but likely a train wreck in reality. It's definitely okay to wear a couple pieces of the same color, but don't overdo it. You'll be in danger of looking like you're wearing a single-colored jump suit.

5. Match colors to your complexion (and hair) : Your complexion actually matters when you're color coordinating. There's a reason black men look great in purple, Asian men look good in black, and white men look fine in light blue. Just as a quick tip, dark skin works with brighter colors, light skin with more subdued colors and pastels, and medium skin with just about anything.

6. When in doubt, wear gray, tan, or light (or navy) blue : If you have any doubts about the colors you're wearing, just add a gray, tan, or light (or navy) blue into the mix. Those are colors that will work with just about anything.

7. Layer your colors : Layering is a perfect way to incorporate color into your outfit without being too flashy. Do you have an overtly bold checkered shirt that you've had a hard time wearing?  No problem, just layer a charcoal cardigan over it and voila, you're good to go.

You'll start to find that color can make a huge difference in the way your outfits turn out. Keep these tips in mind the next time you dress up, and soon enough, it'll all start to become second nature for you. I think we are all hardwired to recognize aesthetic beauty. Part of that is knowing what colors work with each other, and I genuinely believe we all have that ability. It just takes a little effort to unlock it.


Suit & shoes color coordination

Mark Kwak

A couple days ago, I ran across an infographic regarding suit/shoe color combinations that I was quite impressed with. It was made by a guy named rootb33r on reddit, who wanted to inform others on the versatility of certain suit/shoe combinations, and also what occasions they were most appropriate in. I don't think the suggestions on here are necessarily hard-fast rules, but it's a good starting point, and I agree with most of it. I'm a little skeptical about his thoughts on the charcoal suit (I personally think charcoal suits are extremely versatile), but otherwise, it's pretty solid. Check it out below:


Ask me: wave #5 (black suits & summerwear)

Mark Kwak

In the last couple weeks, I've been getting a pretty heavy load of questions, so I truly apologize if it takes a while before I can answer all of them. I promise though, I will get to your questions eventually! And for the record, I do love getting questions, it makes me feel great to help you out (if I can) in your sartorial journey. I've noticed two particular questions that have been repeated several times, so instead of answering you all separately, here are some good representative questions that may cover yours, more or less. Note: the answers are a bit edited from what I might have written via email, mainly because it's for a broader audience this time around.

Source: ImgFave

How versatile do you think the black suit really is? Is it faux-pas to wear at less formal events than funerals and the like? I come to you with this because there are a lot of conflicting views about this floating around on the interwebs, but you've managed to maintain a down to earth approach to style, I feel. - Panu

Ah, black suits. I'm glad you asked this question.

In the menswear world, as you probably have noticed, you'll hear that black suits should be avoided and that you can only wear them for funerals, blah, blah.

So yes, the truth is that a black suit will be less versatile than a solid navy or charcoal suit. Black is an intense color, and it can come across slightly severe, leading people to avoid it in more casual situations. However, this doesn't mean that black suits aren't wearable or can't look good (or even great).

For just about any evening cocktail/loungey event where the lights are soft or dimmed, I think black suits can look wonderful, and sometimes even more appropriate than suits of other colors. Something about night time and black suits shouts the word "classy" to me. Anyhow, in those cases, I say definitely wear your black suit. Of course, just like any other suit, it should be tailored properly, and worn with confidence... but you've already heard me talk about that part ad nauseum

Also, don't feel the need to stick with the traditional white shirt and black tie, when wearing a black suit. By all means do so if the event is very formal, but otherwise, I would stick to experimenting with other colors with your shirts and ties (violets, pinks, light blues, grays, etc) to decrease your formalness. For the color of your shirt, remember to use colors that are slightly muted/faded, and less intense. You're trying to decrease heavy contrasts, since the whole reason people don't recommend black is because it's already so highly contrasted to everything else.

The trickier part is during the day, or at the office. In these cases, I would likely opt for a gray, navy, brown, or tan suit if you have the choice, but if you want to wear your black suit, just make sure the shirt and tie, once again, have more variation. Adding pops of color and different patterns tastefully to the black canvas will do wonders, and decrease the formalness of your attire.

So in all, I think some people take the whole "no black suit" thing a bit too intensely. Yes navy and gray may be more appropriate, but they can also be more vanilla as well! Wear your black suit in confidence and I guarantee you, 99% of the people won't even care about the fact that it's black, but instead will compliment you on your sharp look. After all, you are donning a suit, man.

Source: Hypebeast

I'd love to dress like you, I really like button- up shirts and cardigans, but there's something that makes me doubt I can do this every day: Where I live, summers are hot. And I mean HOT. Around 40 or 45 degrees Celsius, with around 90% humidity. What can I do about that? Sure, I can dress well next winter, but what can I do about spring and summer? Cheers from Argentina - Brian

Because it's currently fall/winter around here, most my posts have been dedicated to wearing more layers, keeping yourself warm, etc. I will certainly get into posts about cooling down with spring/summer clothing in the next few months, but I'm sorry I wasn't able to be of assistance earlier! There's a lot to talk about, but I do have some tips for keeping cool, though I can't pretend that I live in a 90% humid 45 degree place.

Here are tips that come to mind:

1. Wear more breathable fabrics. Linen, madras, chambray, seersucker, other light weight cottons... these are your go-tos. Stay away from wools, furs, and leather. Even if you layer, you'll find that by using a bunch of light, thin, breathable fabrics, you can actually keep pretty cool.

2. Keep things simple. As long as a v-neck t shirt or henley is well-fitted and free of any designs or embellishments, it could potentially be all you need on a hot summer day. Pair it with some chinos, or shorts that end slightly above your knee, and you're good to go. Don't feel the need to add complexity to your outfit just because you want to look dapper. Truth is, you won't look good if you're incredibly uncomfortable.

3. Get jackets that are unlined. More fabric means more warmth, so use very light, unlined jackets if it's cool enough to add a jacket to the mix. Remember again to wear more breathable fabrics. For example, an unstructured, seersucker jacket could be a good addition to your wardrobe during the spring or summer.

4. Wear no-show socks or no socks at all. Keep your calves and ankles cool by wearing shorter socks. Aesthetically, no-show socks are probably best. If you're daring enough, you can also go sockless in the summer to cool off. Some of you may fear that if you forgo socks, you'll stink up your shoes. A great remedy is to use Goldbond or some other powder to suck up the moisture, keeping your feet cool, and your shoes dry.

5. Summer = light colors. Wearing blacks, navys, and charcoals won't do you any good in the summer. Darker colors absorb heat, so keep colors on the lighter end of the spectrum.

6. Canvas sneakers, boat shoes, driving moccasins and are your friends. In the summer, stash away most of your thick, heavy boots. Instead, opt for lighter, more breathable shoes, like canvas sneakers, boat shoes, or driving moccasins.

7. Wear undershirts if you're going to wear a dress shirt. If you're not in the mood to wear polos or t-shirts, you can still pull off button-ups in the summertime as they are usually made of thin, lightweight fabrics. However, donning sweat stains on your button-ups doesn't do anyone any favors. Wear light V-necks (or naval striped crew necks in casual situations, I'm a fan of those) underneath your lightweight dress shirts, roll up the sleeves, and stay sweat-proof.

And lastly, remember that comfort is always important, even when it comes to being stylish. Summertime is when you're likely to be most active, moving around, and interacting with others. If you're not comfortable in your clothing, you're not really helping anyone out, including yourself.

Alright so there you have it, my thoughts on black suits and summer wear. I'm happy to hear your thoughts as well! Just leave a comment below if you'd like, and we'll keep the conversation going.  Till next time...