There are five colors that I feel are arbitrarily left in the shade during the summer months: tobacco, cream, brown, forest green and pastel blue. Some of them will transcend seasons, while others really come into their own in summer. Skin tone is certainly an important factor when putting together an outfit, but you shouldn’t restrict your options unnecessarily. Your paleness might preclude you from wearing cream shorts, but you can build the color into your outfit with a healthy contrast to reflect more kindly on your complexion.
Another very important factor to consider is the formality of your outfit. For many, this will be decided by their environment, while others might have a sartorially charged rebellious desire to suit up for the sake of it. Either way, it is important that you pair fabric and colors accordingly: a balanced, tonally astute outfit is great for formal occasions; contrasts and idiosyncrasies work better as part of a casual ensemble.
Let me break down how these colors can add a gentel flair to your summer outfits…
I cannot sing the praises of tobacco enough normally, and plenty of people have got a compliment from me when wearing it, so I thought I’d tell you why. It is a wonderfully rich tone of brown that enhances a plethora of colors, while simultaneously offering a complexion that draws out the depth of some darker colors, such as mahogany and a textured navy.
It is admittedly quite informal, but that doesn’t stop it being a great choice for a suit, as shown above. The informality of tobacco is in part down to its lightness in color, and its saturation, meaning that it looks best next to contrasting elements in your outfit. Thus, in this way can those with paler skin still benefit from the sophistication of tobacco. Furthermore, the saturation of tobacco is what makes it so appealing in suede, and the bomber below is perfect for throwing on when the temperature drops.
Cream is one of those colors which divides the sartorial family. The mother sensibly rejects it is as a good color for clothes, because almost inevitably, you’ll get a mark down them. The son wants a wardrobe of cream if he must; all the cool kids have some cream in their closet and he wants in. The father, in his wise-worldly ways, owns one pair of cream chinos, flat fronted but pressed with a crease, and a cream linen suit. They are seldom used, but when they are it is with great care and always ends by brushing them down. In this example, you should follow the father’s advice.
I cannot believe how many times cream is left out of those ubiquitous (and just as regularly, terrible) capsule wardrobe guides. Its pale color means it works with an almost unparalleled array of colors, certainly on par with navy and grey. It is a color of obvious refinement, and great taste. The only advice I have is that pale people should pair cream with bolder tones alongside to reflect more kindly on their skin. Also, to avoid the stereotypical sailor conundrum, simply avoid pairing cream (especially trousers) with a double or single breasted navy blazer adorned with brass buttons… in case you were considering it.
Brown simultaneously seems like a really good shout, yet also one of the most obvious. After all, there isn’t a man reading this who doesn’t have at least one brown pair of shoes and belt right? But how many of you actually have anything brown in your wardrobe? I can almost hear a pin drop… followed by the penny hitting your cerebrum. Right, let me delineate how easily you can integrate brown into your summer wardrobe.
Brown looks great in cardigans, jackets, trousers and ties. Brown ties are awesome: grab a crunchy silk number and don’t spend too much time perfecting the knot for classic sprezzatura. A soft wool or fluffy mohair cardigan will produce great harmony under a navy suit, but also have enough character to look impressive on its own. I would restrict brown jackets and trousers to linen rather that cotton, though there is a case to be made for hopsack. All the same, you should not be instinctively confining brown to leathers. As always, an open mind and experimentation are key to unleashing your sartorial prowess.
Navy and grey dominate both formal and casual wear, but while charcoal is a wise choice after grey for formal wear, green would be my pick for more relaxed attire. Forest green, more vibrant than its popular A/W counterpart olive green, is a great color for all seasons. It complements a range of colors, but in summer it really works beautifully with burnt oranges, yellows and neutral brown leather accessories.
Forest green chinos will get you through the year, and would be my pick of clothing in this color. It’ll go great with browns as you know, but also with black formal shoes with a chunky sole to tap into that military vibe. Otherwise a green cardigan, in a light cotton/silk blend for summer and a bit of stretch, will work brilliantly on top of some burnt orange trousers and underneath a white shirt.
Pastel colors are a personal favorite of mine. They really come into their own in the summer, and are a much better alternative to those ghastly neon colors kids seem to be blinding people with. Pastel colors are simply the result of adding white to the root color, which is a regular practice of painters in an effort to give the color more body. The outcome is a soft yet deep tone that reflects particularly kindly on anyone.
Pastel blue is my choice because it is a hue that works with all skin and hair colors. You have the option to pair it with bolder summer colors, and make a summer statement. Otherwise, you can maintain a refined and consider aesthetic by combining it with other softer tones on the color wheel. To my mind, a faded red moving towards pink and an apple green would work equally beautifully with blue.. You should experiment on your own, but I think pastel colors look much better in casual clothing than they do as part of a tailored, formal outfit. Let me know what you think!