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Are You Bright Or Subtle?

Everyone that steps foot into our apartment knows that I am the more colourfully dressed while my housemate is more subtle (don't worry, that's not a dig at you Kev).  Now don't get me wrong, we both linger into the lightest and darkest shades of clothing but it has always raised the concern if we are more suited to the brighter or darker colours? Colour is big, colour is bold, colour is different, colour is individual and colour is difficult. The male fashion world has finally accepted colour as a sartorially acceptable part of the perfect wardrobe, but whether everyone agrees with this move, partakes in it or even considers it at all is another issue entirely. As it further permeates the catwalks it builds more of a presence on the high street; every shop is full of colour, crying out for our attention, and the contents of our wallets.

But colour is far from easy and some would say, far from necessary. There was an audible sigh of relief across the board when it became clear that colour was here to stay – it is undeniable that it does open up a whole new world of possibility, but that is far from confirmation of its place in every man’s wardrobe. The colour question still hangs over many a fashion conscious male; the impetus to use it exists but whether we actually need it or want it is still open for debate. Colour is arguably a more complex topic than it might seem at first thought. The biggest question to ask of it is at what point colour becomes colourful? What makes a standard colour become something more? Take blue for example, the spectrum for shading is huge – from dark navy to the brightest of skies, there are hundreds of different shades, each with their own name and infinitesimal differences in accordance.

However, this doesn't identify when a colour actually becomes what we as a collective group call a bright colour or a shade that is beyond the normal spectrum. It would be fair to say in fact that there is no real, concrete distinction – it is a case of each to their own. What one may consider colourful, another may not. We need to understand exactly what our own concept of muted and toned down is, and this comes from our style. Your style is very personal. It helps to define you as a person, as a personality, it reflects who you are, how you feel and how you act – the colours that make up your wardrobe should and most probably will already reflect this. Colour is a confidence thing – you have to want to wear it, you have to feel comfortable in it, you must feel confident walking down the street in it – especially if your choice happens to be at the more vivid end of the scale. It cannot be half cut, so you must ask yourself whether you could in all seriousness pull it off, and whether it actually works for you.

This question of personal choice extends further than the initial consideration of what actually represents a colour – all our clothes are a colour but we must remember the divide between colour and bright colour. Are there in your opinion, colours or shades that are undeniably more bright and daring than others that still come under the banner of the more subtle and reserved? Is it ultimately shade that dictates colourfulness? Does material dictate the colour, or even how colourful something can actually be? Do our predetermined notions define where colour can and cannot be worn? Do they dictate our view of colour?

To become truly bright and colourful do you have to wear an item that is considered a stand out piece or can bright and colourful come from just wearing a vibrant pair of socks? Is it all in the detail or the outfit overall? I would argue that because some colours come under the sphere of subtle and reserved – camel for instance – that an outfit is still fairly monochrome and muted if you were to wear a camel cardigan with a suit. The suit remains the main focus of the look because it holds the majority stake, the camel cardigan adds variation but does not shout, which brings us back round to the question of what you consider to be colourful. All clothes have a colour, but that does not necessarily represent your personal perception of colourfulness.

Once we have ascertained exactly what our own individual concept of colourful and being colourful is, it then becomes appropriate to consider the case or reasoning for adopting the bright and colourful or the subtle and reserved. We have discussed the meaning of the former but as of yet have not really broached the subject of the latter – what IS subtle and reserved? Once again it is personal preference and our subjective decisions shape it. Does subtle and reserved actually correspond just as much to colour as it does to monochrome and muted?

Does colour represent playfulness, daring, individuality, experimentation, fashion forwardness, an embracing of new trends and an overwhelming sense of confidence? Does the reserved suggest security or safety, conformism, or a sense of the classic, elegance and the timeless? You could certainly say that colour is just as timeless, elegant, classic and appropriate as the muted (think burgundy & camel/khaki) and the same can be said the other way around (unconventional white jeans, for example). This would then suggest that the perfect style and image of the quintessential sartorial gentleman is a mix of the two, but that is no confirmation of the truth; each side has its merits and we cannot, and should not ignore our own preferences.

apologize profusely if this article has just caused you to think that I am making a simple question very convoluted, that is sincerely not my intent. I simply wish to create a question that shows – whether we admit it or not – we are slaves to our own vanity, as we all like to look good. We will change our image upon the basis of trends and what other people deem to be fashionable to varying levels and it represents the danger that we become blind to our own preferences; what we like.