Color Guides: Red

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There are at least ten colors a man must learn how to master if he is going to succeed as a sharp dresser, and here we begin a sequence that teaches you the steps to mastering each of them.  We will begin at the broad end of the visible spectrum with the warmest and broadest of the colors: red.  Red is not the first color that comes to mind when a man gets dressed- it’s too bold, too angry, too exciting and energetic.  Red is not the color you want to wear in a suit to an interview, for example.  However, precisely because red is so bold, it has its place in a wardrobe as a statement piece.

Limit your use of red to a single item of clothing that you want to really pop, the element of your wardrobe that you want people to see coming from a hundred yards off.  In the Summer, or even the Fall, try it in a pair of pants sitting below a navy blazer and a white shirt; you might even try the famous salmon-pink-red known as Nantucket Red.

You might also try some red up top, in the form of a sweater under a navy blazer or a gray tweed sport coat; this is the pop of color we alluded to before, the burst of bold styling in an otherwise inconspicuous wardrobe that will announce you to the world as a man of taste and sophistication.  As was the case with red pants, keep the rest of your outfit subdued: a simple blazer or sport coat, pants in khaki or brown or gray, a white shirt, and a sober tie.  Think of it as an exercise in precision, your demonstration that you can express yourself without losing control of your appearance.

You might wish to limit your use of red to a single necktie in your suit or smart casual ensemble.  Red neckties have long been associated with politicians, somewhat negatively at that, but this should not deter you from tying one on when wearing a gray or a brown suit.  If the thought of simple red in a necktie is too garish for you, we recommend a more subdued shade, like crimson or burgundy, perhaps with a pattern or a stripe, or used with a fabric other than silk, wool or cashmere coming to mind.  Use your reds with care, and they’ll take care of you.

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