The Etiquette of Matching

What are some questions you ask yourself when you first put your suit on? “What matches my suit? What matches my tie? Is this all too ‘clash-y?’ This is my favorite color, but what goes well with a color like this?” Don’t worry, those questions are normal and happen very often, even to the best of us. 

Believe it or not, most of the time the real question isn’t, “does this match?” In all actuality, there’s a lot of complimentary overlap between patterns, colors, and textures that isn’t very intuitive to us. This is largely due to the fact that we are so easily persuaded by colors that we are highly exposed to everyday. “Quick fashion” has made us more comfortable with bright, primary colors with little to no depth when it comes to patterns or texture because its poor construction and superficial color palette is inexpensive to mass produce.

So, Kipper proposes that the real question instead is, “this definitely can match, but what can I do to make it really accentuate in all the appropriate ways?”

Here are some ideas to ponder, and feel free to ask the stylists at Kipper Clothiers how you can play around with these guidelines to fit your suiting needs:

                                                                   Ralph Lauren

                                                                   Ralph Lauren

1.) Fine Lines and Stripes -- Stripes are the easiest to work with simply because there’s very little that can go wrong with something as flattering as lines. With that being said, if you’ve ever tried to wear stripes on stripes, you may have noticed that if the stripes are all the same size, or are all separated by the same amount of distance, then the lines will simply dissolve into each other and fail to provide the suit any depth even though the design is technically “matching.” Thus, when trying to stack stripes, it is crucial that the stripes aren’t the same size, are not traveling in the same direction, or do not fashion the same amount of distance between each line. Other shapes, such as pin dots or even abstract floral shapes will look great with pinstripes and provide great texture to your suit. 

                                                                   Pitti Uomo 87

                                                                   Pitti Uomo 87

2.) Repeating Patterns, Dots, Florals, Checks, and Everything Else In-Between -- Nowadays, shirts and ties with floral designs, or even garments with other micro designs are extremely popular. It’s easy, however, to get intimidated by the boldness of the shirt or tie because the design can seem too “busy.” There is some truth to this fear, but it can be easily subdued when one chooses to utilize space and color as a tool to balance out the heavy activity. If there is a lot going on in your shirt, suit, or tie, try pairing it with another shape or pattern with more space in-between each design or play with the color’s depth by choosing a matching color of a different tone. 

                                                          Davide Roberto Baroncini

                                                          Davide Roberto Baroncini

3.) Colors in Depth -- When stacking patterns, colors that seem identical, or even colors that are not the same at all, it is extremely helpful and eye-opening to explore a single color’s wide range of shades. For example, you can definitely wear a suit that’s red and then wear a shirt that’s the same primary color but a different shade, i.e. maroon, pink, or even burgundy. Or, you can take the entirely opposite route and pair the red suit up with a blue shirt, and I know what you may be thinking… “Blue?!” Yes, of course, blue! A lighter blue (think chambray) won’t have such high contrast and thus, it won’t clash with a vibrant color as strong as red. Playing around with the shades of a color will give you much more freedom in the shapes that are associated with it as well, which not only gives your suit much more texture, but also demonstrates your attention to detail and consciousness of how you fit into a world of color.

Next time you’re trying to justify whether or not to get that shirt or suit in your favorite color or pattern, do what we at Kipper do; remember these central ideas and rest assured that if you like it and it speaks to you, just go for it! A little more attention to detail doesn’t hurt anybody, and you definitely deserve that extra attention.

Hoisum Nguyen

Berkeley, CA