When it comes to coordinating your suit, shirt and tie, your hair color and complexion should be taken into consideration. According to Antonio Centeno, writer of Real Men Real Style, men either have a high contrast hair and skin combination (e.g., dark hair/light skin), a medium contrast combination (e.g., medium hair/medium skin), or a low contrast combination (e.g. dark hair/dark skin or light hair/light skin), and their outfits should show the same degree of contrast so that they don't detract attention from their faces.
|Ask yourself - "What would Don Draper do?"|
Jon Hamm is a perfect example of a man who dresses according to the stark contrast between his black-brown hair and light skin, particularly in his Mad Men wardrobe. His signature Don Draper look is a dark charcoal suit with a white shirt and black tie, or a tie with a high contrast navy/black and white pattern. For an added splash of contrast from his dark suit, he wears a white pocket square in a straight fold. This is a look that's conservative and demands respect but doesn't draw attention away from the face. If this is too desaturated for your taste, though, never fear. A similar look can be pulled off with a navy suit, a white shirt, and a navy, dark red, black, or combination tie (a bit of white in the tie is also perfectly acceptable). A light blue shirt can also be worn with a charcoal or navy suit, but it will diminish the contrast ever-so-slightly, which might be a good thing if the other combinations seem too severe for you or for the occasion.
|"Who Wore It Better?" - Mad Men Addition|
In the middle of the spectrum is Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the ambitious but sometimes pesky Pete Campbell. With his medium brown hair and light-to-medium skin tone, Pete has the fortune of being able to pull off a wider range of hues and levels of contrast than most, and he takes advantage of it, at one point wearing a primary colored plaid sports coat and pretty much pulling it off (unlike Don, who looked kind of ridiculous in plaid). Men like Pete can sample both ends of the spectrum, opting for both high contrast and light or monochromatic looks, and won't be washed out as long as they don't go too far in either direction.
|Start bleaching your hair now, gentlemen.|
Finally we have our John Slatterys, who are both pale of skin and fair of hair. Too much contrast, and these men can seem diminished, but ensembles composed of the same hue or level of brightness can make them GQ cover material. Unlike most men, the low contrast types can get away with pairing a light suit (let's say light gray) with a light shirt (any number of pastel colors, gray-blue, or just white). And there's no need to fear monochrome, either. Mixing different shades of brown in particular can be very easy on the eyes, and blue is also a good choice.
Regardless of your level of face-to-hair contrast, there's nothing wrong with experimenting with elements from the other end of the spectrum in small ways, maybe by throwing a dark tie into a pale suit and shirt combo for instance. Don't be afraid to try new things - just don't let go of the basics of contrast coordination completely.
Are you high, medium, or low contrast? What degrees of contrast are your outfits usually made of? Feel free to start the discussion, and don't forget to follow us @TScustomsuits.