Colour, it’s everywhere. Shirts in countless shades of red and green and yellow prints; jeans in a thousand blues – from bleached to dark navy; t-shirts and sweaters from mustard yellow to shocking red, no matter where one turns, the clothing choices of so many men are becoming brighter by the day.
It is wonderful to see the modern gent finally embracing colour in and amongst wardrobes renowned for navy and a bit more navy – not that there’s anything wrong with that as my recent article on how to wear navy will testify – but we have to be careful that we do not go too far the other way and forget about the classic hues, or non-colours, such as black and white.
The monochrome colour palette is where good dress sense starts and ends. It is classic yet sits perfectly in a contemporary world, it is suave and sophisticated yet rebellious at the same juncture, it is for the traditional tuxedo or the modern hipster, black and white is everything and anything you want it to be.
Black and white have stood the test of time and lived to tell the tale. They are essential to any good wardrobe and together, make the perfect team. Nothing quite says it like black and white. Yes, you may have all these other colours competing for attention like spoilt children but black and white can sit their calmly surbeying the scene, knowing that whatever happens, it is they who shall always hold sway in the battle for colour supremacy.
They are the dons of style etiquette, unruffled by the new breed, non-plussed to new hues and shiny tones, they sit with cigar and martini in hand watching the furore on the dance floor unfold.
Fashion designers, themselves renowned for appearing from behind the curtain clad in this simple yet elegant colourway, have shown that while colour is important, a certain lack of it can add character and class to our attire. Agi and Sam, Casely-Hayford, Neil Barrett and Marni are just a few of the menswear designers who have sent out collections which, while showing a variety of colours, still maintain a certain distinction through their use of black and white.
We so often get caught up in the fashion maelstrom, led by our eyes to the bright lights of reds, blues and yellows but it is the minimalistic approach of these two colours which lies at the heart of their contented equilibrium. Neither is trying to out-do their co-conspirator, there is not one usurping the other; they work in perfect tandem to compliment their own, and the others, undemanding virtues.
For all their simplicity and ego-free attributes, you could be forgiven that with only two colours in hand, making an outfit might be something of a style minefield and yet there are numerous ways in which to pair black and white.
And here’s how.
Black and white were invented for the formal occasion, in fact no two colours quite say class like B&W. A well fitted black suit, black tie and dress shoes paired with a crisp white shirt – it’s a formal occasion, do not scrimp, go and buy yourself a new one – and you are set. Yes everyone else may be wearing one but there’s a good reason for that. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Going to a gig is of course about the music but anyone and everyone in attendance wants to make sure they look the part too – unless your accompanying your daughter to a One Direction concert of course, in which case no one cares what you look like. Nothing says effortlessly cool quite like a leather jacket, white t-shirt, skinny black jeans and a pair of Converse. Understated and attitude all with two colours.
You know those weekend reveller types, the ones with the fancy shirt, you can spot them a mile away, they wore it last week and they’ll wear it every week until they buy a new one. No one thinks that about monochrome, it’s too cool to get caught up in the moment, instead side stepping trends to be fashionable week in week out. A good white shirt is perfect for the weekend and can be worn with a multitude of outfits, including this one.
We all need a bit of colour in our lives and we’d be far duller without such vibrant hues but spare a moment for the delights of black and white. At first glance these two colours are easy to pass over but take a step back and you will soon realise they combine to make some of the best outfits you will ever wear.
Yes they are understated, yes they do not shout from the mountaintop and yet, in that refrained elegance is where their beauty lies. They stand with broad shoulders against the latest trends, feigning no interest in the style of the moment because they are style and everything it stands for.