Thursday, September 1, 2011

In defense of brown

Over the past couple years, I've gotten the distinct impression that in many corners of the internet where men's style is discussed seriously by gentlemen (who have many hours of the day to spend on the subject and many thousands of posts to their names to prove it), the color brown is regarded as little more than the color of peasants and the khaki-wearing masses. In this current era where super-thin lapels and Mad Men styling is all the rage, it's gotten even more of a bad rap.

Now granted, I love color and I've learned to embrace it more and more over the years, but I will never be one of those fellows who holds a grudge against brown. It's always a solid base to build upon, and while I may be inadvertently flaunting just how out-of-touch I am, I'd have to say that in some permutation it probably makes an appearance in my clothing choices roughly 3-4 days out of the week.

check and blue and brown
As mentioned above, it's a solid base to build upon, and depending on ones mood, it can be ultra-conservative or actually play off even brighter colors in a way that I think works surprisingly well.

details details
Here, I paired a micro-hounds tooth jacket (actually, the upper half of a suit) with some brown chinos. Up top is where I let the colors play a little more, with a light blue gingham shirt, an eye-popping red linen tie and a red, white and blue pocket square (this one, actually). Sure, it's nothing that will get me called out for being a peacock, but I'd also argue that it's not completely boring either.


  1. A very nice combination of clothes and accessories! Great tie too.

    I was raked over the coals, albeit gently, for pairing a plain blue button-down shirt with an understated brown-tan-charcoal houndstooth blazer last week. Grumble, grumble. . . Thought I looked rather nice.

    Best Regards,

    Ulrich von B.

  2. Au contraire, brown was the weekend color of the classes in both apparel and shoes for hunting and country walks. I still think a brown jacket or suit can be very sophisticated, the details however, become even more important as you have demonstrated.

  3. Brown is, as noted above, a casual/country classic. In our modern day, it can be worn in the city with near impunity.

    Though the outfit looks good, I thought there was something off—and then you told me what: you paired a suit jacket with something other than its pants.

    It's not just the pattern that keeps suit parts from playing well as separates; it's mainly the material. The hard, smooth finish of most suiting makes the jacket/pants a poor mix with other, rougher cloths.

    Which is exactly why the jacket and pants of a seersucker suit do work as separates: the crinkly texture of the cotton is rough enough to work well with other cloths. (The same can be said, mutatis mutandis, for tweed, but few of us have any tweed suits these days.)

  4. In defense of this particular suit (jacket), I will say that it's actually a rougher material that at least, I think works pretty well with chinos or even khakis. It's a vintage (and here's showing my disregard of labels) Stafford, union-made in the United States. I'm guessing it's a blend of some sort (either cotton or a super lightweight wool + synthetic) that has a fairly soft finish.

    Hopefully that doesn't sound too defensive. I actually wore the jacket today with its pants (the whole suit!) and got more complements on it, so there is that. :)

  5. Old Stafford clothes are fine; it's the new ones you have to avoid. I always look for the made in USA/union label when thrifting; it's a sure sign that the article is of decent quality.

    I think part of what caught my eye in the outfit was the lack of adequate (in my mind, anyway) contrast between the colors of the jacket and the pants. It also seems to me that the pattern is more suit-like than sport coat-like, in that suit patterns tend to be more subdued that those found on sport coats.

    I still like the jacket, but I honestly think that it'll look better worn as it was intended to be worn: as part of a suit (those complements should be telling you something). However, if you want to wear it as a separate, I think you might have more success with gray pants next time.

    Incidentally, I don't think you're being defensive, and I do think you're dealing with a critique of your choices very nicely. Thanks for having such a nice corner here on your part of these here Intarwebs here.

  6. I think this is a fantastic combination. I gravitate towards browns quite a bit and really hadn't thought about the color red as a way of bringing some life into the mix. Long time reader, first time poster BTW. Enjoy your blog very much and look forward to whatever comes next...


  7. really dig this getup. Gonna go out and buy a shirt like this.