January 2nd, 2008
Q: My husband is changing jobs and is in need of a more professional wardrobe, i.e. he’ll be wearing suits every day. He has pale skin and dark brown hair with blue eyes. We’re looking for more variety in his wardrobe color palette…do you have any rules about what colors go best with certain skin tones?
A: In general, pale skinned guys should stick to white, charcoal (I include gray and black in this category), navy and maybe some red; tell him to stay away from khaki and other similar earth tones.
I’m going to be forthright with you, though, because I don’t want your husband looking like a fool. Forget about the wardrobe color palette. It really shouldn’t be a big factor in determining your husband’s work clothes. Be the best-dressed man in the office, but do it by wearing suits that are clean, tailored and sophisticated. Trust me: don’t get caught up in what color looks the best with your husband’s skin. If he wears a well fitted dark suit (think charcoal, gray and navy), a crisp white shirt, and a complementary tie, he will look fantastic, no matter how pale skinned he is.
The best advice I can give to you is to go to a trusted department store and take the time to figure out what looks good on him. Find an employee that you think has good style and have him help you mix and match suits/shirts/ties. Also, go to a really upscale store - they won’t let you leave the store looking bad. This isn’t some shameless and cliché sales pitch for your nearby Wilkes Bashford; I say this because those kinds of stores don’t want to be associated with poorly dressed guys. I realize that going to an expensive store is, well, expensive, and not everyone may be able to/willing to pay those prices. Just remember: you’re not obligated to buy anything, and you will have a great sense of what looks good on your husband after you leave.
On a side note, if your spouse wants to copy a celebrity’s style, make it Gianni Agnelli. Mr. Agnelli is a sartorial legend and is considered one of the best dressed men in history, which is all the more impressive given the fact that he worked in the conservative world of business (meaning that loud, outlandish suits and such aren’t tolerated). The picture above is proof.
Style Tip: You can always learn from Mr. Agnelli. In this picture, check out the impeccable tailoring of his suit (it’s a bespoke, I’m sure), the Italian shoulder, and the crisp white shirt. The tie is perfect. It’s the perfect width for the collar width (an often overlooked detail of proportion), and it’s a perfect color – the gray base matches the suit, the white stripes pick up the shirt). The pocket square is a perfect finishing touch and a perfectly complementary color.
Have a great tip about great colors for pale skin?
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