November 26, 2008
Color doesn’t seem to be as much a darling of the fashion world (menswear at least) as it was three or four years ago. I used to be all about that look: clashing primary colors, with a requirement of at least three colors per outfit, neutrals not counted.
the then highly directional Prada Spring 05 collection
local version: Kaiser
I used to “collect” colors, justifying a purchase by the fact that I don’t have something in this particular shade of green, or the latest rendering of the color turquoise. I ended up with a multicolored wardrobe rich with every conceivable color in the rainbow, but lacking in coherence, without a unifying style.
Then color made a slight comeback about a year ago, in the form of trippy neons usually against a black background, more commonly known as new rave. It was fun, for the time being. New rave’s slight resemblance to “old rave” brought back fond memories of reflectorized-piping elephant pants and high school foam parties. Then new rave got tired.
A relic of the new rave days which I am now ashamed to wear out. (t-shirt from Topman)
So menswear now seems to be about non-colors: about darkness, texture, new shapes, and androgyny. Lots of guys now have the tendency to restrain themselves by wearing just black and white, perhaps with an affectation of iconic-ness, like Kaiser Karl, or Andy Warhol.
the obsession with non-color
But you can’t blame the non-colorists; it takes a lot to impress nowadays. Just as I have previously expressed my disinterest in the practice of people carrying monogram bags in hopes of the bags elevating their less-than-impressive outfits, the Spring 2005 way of piling on color upon color is tired, boring, and generally tends to look cheap. It’s just too easy. However, an exercise of restraint and creativity can be the best way to wield the power of color.
Surprise me. A t-shirt or button-down is not the only way to wear color. Fresh, new colors in lush textures that pop up in the most unexpected places, now that’s interesting.
metallic blue on the cap of a black suede cap-toe shoe (Lanvin)
Metallic yellow shoes, not gold: that alone is fresh. (Lanvin)
a seemingly homemade bowtie out of teal velvet ribbon (from The Facehunter)
Okay this one isn’t menswear, but except for the shoes, everything else might as well be.
In perhaps one of my most favorite outfits of all time, Tommy’s acid green Margiela flats pop out in a rather androgynous outfit, against a palette of white, oatmeal and black.
Keep it to just one color, and make it good. Wearing a color and committing to it magnifies its impact.
This jumpsuit, rendered in a purple just a few steps away from supersaturated royal purple, is cool and unexpected. Props to this guy for pulling off a j-lo esque plunging neckline. (from The Facehunter)
These guys started my love affair with deep magenta.
Leigh Lezark (because I just adore her) wears hot pink in varying textures: divine.
A favorite look from the April 77 lookbook, it made me rethink the widely-abhorred color peach.
I know I always love to preach about wearing anything you want, fashion existentialism as I call it, but a little restraint never really hurt anyone. Life is too short to spend a day in a half-assed outfit. I think I speak for more and more guys nowadays (and women too, of course!) when I say I’ve recently been rediscovering the joy of getting stares from pedestrians because of what I wear. Wearing that extra-fantabulous color in an equally arrestingly-styled statement piece of clothing just might get you that extra stare (of admiration, hopefully) that you need to brighten your day.
P.S. No, I did not experiment with color today, such a hypocrite I am. But I did tuck in my jeans inside my boots for the first time.
H&M sweater, Casio calculator watch, Uniqlo jeans tucked into APC boots