“Never underestimate the power of what you wear. After all, there is just a small bit of you sticking out at the neck and the cuff. The rest of what the world sees is what is draped on your frame”, Oscar Schoeffler (Esquire Magazine’s legendary fashion editor). Hence your attire should be chosen in such a way that it brings liveliness to the visible parts of your body.
Color is most often the neglected part of the attire even though it plays a major role in deciding the aesthetics. Color influences first impressions more than any other aspect of your attire. Women very well know the importance that colors play in deciding the vibe, but men do not have the same kind of access to cosmetics as women and they do not have different shades to play with. Hence their attire’s color should be planned in such a way that it brings out the best of your appearance. Colors not only affect the way you look but some colors are even known to influence the rate of respiration and heartbeat. But I am not going to dive into the health benefits of color in this blog, I would only talk about the ways to choose your color according to your complexion.
Alan Fusser, a legendary American designer in his book “Dressing the Man” divided the complexion of men into three basic types:
1. High contrast complexion: if your skin is light and your hair is dark.
2. Muted/ tonal complexion: If your skin tone and hair color are light and similar.
3. Muted contrast complexion: Men with this contrast have a difference in the skin tone and hair color but it is not as defined as in the case of High contrast complexion.
Your attire should be designed in such a way that it attracts attention to your face. Clothes are like a frame that contains your face. While the frame should be attractive, but its primary focus is to highlight the thing that it contains (in this case your face). This could be done by learning a few color-coordination rules of clothing. The attire of man should exhibit the same level of contrast as his complexion. High contrast clothes include a combination of clothes that have a stark difference between their color and brightness (Black and white, Dark Navy blue and light sky blue, etc) while low contrast clothes contain a combination of colors of clothes that do not vary much in color and brightness (Black and Navy Blue, Golden and Yellow, etc).
High contrast Complexion:
This category consists of people who have light skin tone and dark hair color. Typical men with black colored hair and white skin tone fit this category. The best color coordination for this complexion to try is the high contrast color coordination. The hair with a combination of contrast clothes act as a frame here, this is turn highlights your face (which is light in color) and make it look livelier, this, in turn, will attract more attention towards your face. Whereas if you wear low contrast clothes (for example a combination of golden and yellow), your skin tone will blend in with the color of your outfit and will dampen your high contrast features.
For example, look at how Henry Cavill’s face is highlighted in the right image. We can clearly see how the combination of black and white (high contrast) complements his complexion even more. Whereas in the right case low contrast clothes dampen his complexion and his face blends in with the color of clothes and look dull.
I am attaching one more pic (Ben Affleck this time) for your reference.
Low contrast complexion:
This category consists of people whose hair color and skin tone are similar. Typical males with blonde hair, redheads, etc who have light skin tone comprise this category. Since people with low contrast complexion do not have different hair colors than their faces to act as a frame, they should avoid outfits with high noise (high contrast), otherwise, the resulting color coordination of the outfit might cause too much distraction. This in turn will shift the focus of attraction to your clothes and away from your face. Wearing high contrast could even make your face look dull and pale if you belong to this category of men.
Medium contrast complexion:
People whose skin tone is different from their hair color but not as defined as in the case of High contrast complexion belong to this category. (Typical men white skin tone and salt and pepper colored hair, brown men with black hair, etc.). The people in this category enjoy the benefits of both complexion types and outfits might be chosen according to your moods and personality. There is no hard and fast way to dress if you belong to this category. Since the options available to the people of this category is large, the scope of error here also increases. So, people of this category could only learn through the method of trial and error.
It is natural from the above discussion to think that black people with black hair belong to the muted complexion category since their skin tone and hair color are similar. But the case is the opposite since wearing a white shirt would create a significant contrast with the black skin tone and this in turn would highlight their faces. Black people could actually benefit more from high contrast clothing. For choosing the right color coordination for your face, consider an image of your face on a white paper, here a darker skin tone would create higher contrast while a lighter shade of dark (brown) will create a medium level of contrast with the white paper. If your skin tone is a darker shade of black, you will benefit the most from high contrast clothing while if the contrast between the skin tone and the white surface is less (brown or lighter shades of black), then choosing outfits of lower contrast could benefit you more.
Due to an immense amount of fashion tips available on the internet, it is easy to get intimidated by the number of details. If you could get the basics right, you could experiment with the rest. Color coordination is one of the very basics that a man should be aware of for sartorial perfection. Other basics of dressing and fashion like choosing the right sizes and proportions will be uploaded soon on my blog.