Summer is upon us, gents. Days are longer, clothes are lighter, and colors are… well, brighter. It goes without saying that there is definitely a resurgence of bold color and pattern happening in men’s fashion, and the menswear industry is imploring dapper folk like yourself to experiment with making a personal statement with your ensembles. Quite frankly, experimenting with color in your look makes you appear like a fashionable street style god, when done correctly (and who doesn’t want that?)
For those of you that live in a dark denim and khaki world, you might be a little apprehensive. Experimenting with color doesn’t mean that you need to suddenly throw on neon green chinos and orange socks. Subtlety is key when it comes to incorporating color for the first time. For spring and summer this year, understated shades like marsala, toasted almond, and dusk blue are taking the stage in menswear, and anyone can pull them off with a little thoughtfulness.
You might be asking yourself, why should I care?
- Even though blue and khaki denim often account for approximately 83% of a man’s wardrobe, having something as simple as a colorful pair of chinos allows you to have more sartorial options. From a practical standpoint, more pants = more time in between laundry days. Score.
- Adding interest to your outfits in the form of color will help you set yourself apart in a positive way from all the other guys still wearing khakis.
- Colors and summer go hand-in-hand, so having fun with your color options is basically like an ode to the season, and who doesn’t want to exude summer as much as possible? Plus, no one wants to wear black when it’s 90 degrees outside. Come on now.
Hmm, sounds good. But I don’t think I know how to handle this.
If you don’t stray away from neutrals very often, don’t worry. Adding colorful hues into the mix is simple. Here are some basic rules of thumb to keep in mind when arranging your look:
1. If you’re new to the world of color, unless you’re heading to Mardi Gras, the Kentucky Derby, or some other wildly colorful festivity, start off by focusing on 1 main-component (pants, jacket, shirt) pop of color at a time. So, if you’re wearing green chinos, pair them with a light gray or white button down or a black and white striped T-shirt, for example. Feel free to mix and match color schemes with your neckwear and socks, though!
2. Not meaning to sound to contradictory here, but if you are confident with your style and with pairing bold colors, then by all means, go for it. Spring and summer are the perfect seasons for having a little fun with your wardrobe, and what better way to mix things up than by playing with as many colors as you can? Just make sure your clothes fit well and are tasteful, and the rest is a piece of (colorful) cake.
3. The best way to add accessories and other pops of color after you’ve chosen your main piece(s) is to not “match” in the most literal sense. Rather, aim to complement your colors. Though learning how to have an eye for complementing colors takes time, anyone can understand that less is more when it comes to color. If you are wearing bright red pants, opt for a blue bow tie or a flannel with minimal (if any) red accents.
4. Contrary to what you might be thinking, color isn’t limited to casualwear. You’ll be surprised how good a pair of blue or green (or purple… or yellow!) pants looks with a sport coat and tie. To attain a look that’s appropriate for most work situations, keep the rest of the outfit mostly muted and let your brightest shade take the spotlight.
If certain colors just aren’t your thing and never will be, that’s okay! Don’t wear them! If there’s no way in 100 years that you’d wear pink, don’t sweat it. Fill your drawers with other awesome shades like mustard yellow, olive green, treetop, navy, and burnt orange. The sky is the limit here. Stick to your favorite hues, and venture out by exploring all of their endless varieties. If blue is your color, go crazy with everything from baby blue to cobalt. Fashion is about having fun and playing up the styles that make you you. If you dig bright colors, play it up. If you think lighter, faded shades make you feel more refined, go for it. Color is about giving your outfit choices a sartorial voice similar to your own personality. Now get out there and step up your color game.
Read next: The Essentials of Men’s Pants