Taka from Liverano

Although I still like writing practical pieces, I don’t do as many as I used to. One reason, I think, is that it’s easy to feel that you are giving the same advice over and over again.

As I looked through old posts in the process of cataloguing this site, I kept on coming across pieces that I liked, particularly around colour combinations and pocket handkerchiefs. In order to present a comprehensive guide, but not repeat exactly the same text, I’ve summarised a few of my favourite posts on colour and linked to the more detailed posts.

1 – Autumnal colours usually work well together. Browns and greens, burnt oranges and bright yellows. See how it’s done with Paul Stuart in 2012 and 2008 posts.

2 – You know which colours are harmonious, you just don’t realise it yet. When picking out a tie or pocket handkerchief, consider the other colours you turned down elsewhere. This is harmony.

3 – My three favourite and unusual combinations are pink/green, purple/yellow and blue/brown. Tone is key to all of them. It’s much easier if one of them is much paler than the other.

4 – For sweaters under suits, consider purple or bottle green under navy, burgundy under a mid-grey, and anything bright under hairy tweed.

5 – Green is the most versatile colour of sock. It works particularly nicely under a navy suit with deep-brown shoes.

6 – Black is for evening, for glamour. Even then, navy often works better as has deeper colour. And it’s always preferable to black at any other time of the day.

7 – Charcoal is the only colour that should not be worn with brown shoes. Presuming of course that you have read point six, and are not wearing a black suit. And here’s how to wear brown shoes. (Thirty-one comments on that post!)

8 – Don’t forget the ‘Rules and how to break them‘ series. Particularly, in the case of this post, where and how it is ok to wear brown in town.

Image: Taka from Liverano & Liverano, courtesy of The Armoury. Note that the handkerchief and tie could easily be swapped and create a different, though similarly stylish, ensemble

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Dear Simon

I think there is one thing that you neglected to mention and that is skin tone. We all know, for example, that most italians can get away with wearing most colours (also evidenced here by Taka who also has a deepr skin tone) and therefore, some pale skinned British are not complimented by some of the colours you mention.

I find some reds, pinks and yellows difficult to wear for example although i agree your comments are very accurate in general terms. As you have said in the past, experimentation is also key.

Great post and dont feel you give the same advise over and over again – we just cant get enough!

Regards and happy new year to you.


Anders Gronlund

This is an old “truth” from Alan Flusser great book that I think needs some nuance (pun probably intended). Men with little contrast in their face (pale skin and pale hair) should be careful with wearing clothes with lots of contrast. But as far as I am concerned, this only holds true with the colours and contrast that is close to the face. I try to use softer colours and less contrast close to the face (since I am low contrast), but more contrast farer from the face, trousers being the most obvious example.
So instead of wearing dark jacket and white shirt, I wear navy blazer with a pink shirt and pair it with white trousers so that I still get a lot of contrast without making my face disappear.
I love contrast, and this way I can get away with it.
Kind regards,

David LeRoy


the color combinations are definitely very useful, especially the blue/brown, as blue is such a universal color…i am curious as to what colors would you recommend to match different shades of grey, whether tweed, flannel, or just wool?


Anders Gronlund

When it comes to grey I think that texture is of utmost importance. Plain grey is just too boring. Birds-eye and herringbone are increasingly more interesting whereas a nice Prince of Wales is the best “grey” IMHO.

Anders Gronlund

Great article as ever, Simon.
Another great way of discovering new combinations is when you travel. Since you have fewer garments and therefore more limited options you are forced to consider new combinations of what you have with you. This holds especially true when you have lost some of your luggage, as I just did.
Anyway, when it comes to colour I think that more is always better. And as long you wear it with total confidence, you can get away with everything. Robert Redfords pink suit in The Great Gatsby comes to mind. Not to mention Sebastian Horsley R.I.P.
Happy New Year from Tokyo!


Dear Simon,

thanks a lot for this very insightful article. In fact, all your arcticles concerning colors and how to combine them have given me most enriching insights and prove for your extraordinary sense of these.
Your praise of both purple and green even inspirated me to combine both these shades. I must admit the results, at least when combining a dark green and a lighter purple, were astonishing.
My most humble compliments and best wishes for the future from the Continent.


Dear Simon,

In an attempt to add some colour other than white, blue, olive and khaki to my wardrobe I have ordered a pair of faded red chinos. I promise to wear them only in summer and only where I am not known… have I gone mad?

Seriously though, what’s your take on Nantucket Reds?


Thanks Simon,
These will be a very good fit from a supplier who has my sizes dialled in nicely.
I will wear light suede brogues but have some brown loafers on order too as these will primarily be worn on holiday.
Just a white button down shirt was my first thought, or a polo but not the blazer, although I will try it indoors just to see the effect.
The test will be to see if I have the nerve to wear them once they actually arrive!


I’ll go through the options then. I have no shortage of blue/navy shirts ..


Well my faded red chinos had an outing today. Navy polo, chestnut loafers, no socks.
No one fainted as I passed and I enjoyed wearing them, they certainly give things a lift.

Despite other colours feeling decidedly dull in comparison, I will ration myself and not get carried away.

My wife is coming round despite her reservations and commented that the fit is very good, which as ever, is the key.


Hi Simon,

Thanks for this post, really useful tips. I don’t often wear a jacket and when I do I often take it off (as you mentioned in another article). What I struggle with and could with some advice on is colour (and texture) of top layers. For example if just wearing shirt and sweater (with jeans/chinos/flannel grey – thinking here about your beginner’s wardrobe post on trousers here), what colour combinations will work and what wont. Apologies for such a rudimentary question but of all the things I struggle with it’s getting colour right.



Thanks for your prompt response Simon that’s useful. A more in depth article at some point would be fantastic as well


Hi Simon,

Just started reading the Art of Permanent Style by Flusser and came across color theory in regards to your skin, hair, and eye color.

I have tan skin and black hair, so I believe I have a low to medium contrast complexion which means that more tonal, muted colors would better compliment me and not draw the eyes to my outfit, but to my face.

What are your thoughts on this? I did a quick search but wasn’t able to find your thoughts on this matter, and I really am currious. Your light grey and oatmeal sports coat match your skin color and complexion very well in my opninion but what about those of us with darker skin tone?

I checked the archives and


Hi Simon,

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it – thank you for getting back to me, really appreciate it!


bullet no 3, purple/yellow -> that sounds so incredibly difficult to pull off, share a couple of ideas perhaps?