You can make the outfit look more ordered and thought-out by repeating some colours you use in it. But don’t overdo it.

This trick is supposed to add some visual coherence; limit the palette of colours you use and therefore make the outfit look less chaotic. Helps especially in the beginning, when the use of colour is still a matter of long deliberation, and you haven’t yet had time to develop this intuitive sense of how to put things together in a way that’ll look good.

In the comments on my previous post somebody noticed me doing that – the colour of the pocket square is repeated on the socks.

When I do it, I prefer to stick to the most basic colours – navy, brown, beige, grey. Sometimes I do it with dark green or burgundy, but I try to make it as subtle as possible. I’m not sure I’d wear a green tie with green trousers, for example.

So how to pull this composition bracket off, and when to forgo it? I’ve gathered some examples, and I’ll tell you what I think.

Here, the pocket square is similar in tone to the trousers. The reddish, rusty brown is a nice colour, not too loud, and the trousers pique the attention due to their texture; the pocket square just adds a little bit more of it in the top half of the outfit.

I love this picture – the bag, the shoes, and the scarf’s pattern. The colours are not perfectly the same, the material and textures are all different, but those splashes of light brown here and there just fantastically bring everything together.

Here, the very classic and simple repetition – navy shirt and socks. What more do you need?

Again, trousers and pocket square – this time in cream.

How to pair tweed and tie with jeans. #flannelsandtweed

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I love how the tie picks up the dark brown that shows up in the jacket’s pattern. Absolutely brilliant.

Thick cashmere tie for the coldest day of the year. #flannelsandtweed

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And similar thing here – the blue check on the jacket is mirrored by the shirt colour. It probably wouldn’t work as well with a more exotic colour, but here it’s great.

From the archives. Early 2015. Photography by @heykarenwoo 💪 #stevecalder

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White pocket square with the blue rim, plus white polo shirt and blue jeans. The blue isn’t the perfect match in terms of shade, but it’s a main colour in the entire outfit and you can basically build an ensemble based on it and it’ll look good. Especially if it’s muted, and not too saturated.

These two photos are fantastic examples of how to match the tie and the pocket square – splashes of colour on the PS mirror the main colour of the tie, but they’re not dominating the PS’s pattern, so you don’t get the feeling of cramming too much of the same colour in all of the accessories.

On the other hand, sometimes you can – and even should – forgo the colour repetition. Especially if you decide to go with something really bold, in a bright, saturated, or otherwise eye-catching colour.

This tie has navy dots that compliment the jacket, but the tie itself is the only yellow thing here. Adding anything else like this, yellow socks for example, would be too much.

Double tweed for a chilly Monday. #flannelsandtweed

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Two rather bold jackets in interesting colours.

The tie here is colourful enough that it makes the outfit stand out, but look, there’s even no pocket square. It’s very necessary to know when to subtract things instead of adding more.

My uniform. #flannelsandtweed

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Drake’s A/W‘17, with @mrkevindavies #drakes

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Same with the cardigan and the shetland sweater on the photos above.

Conclusion

Relying on this trick of repeating a colour too much can make you look like you overthink your clothing choices. When everything is deliberate and you can spot it immediately, you present yourself as way too attached to what you’re wearing.

I know some think this outfit is great, but I really don’t like the coordination of the shirt, tie, glasses and gloves. It’s exactly what I would advise you to avoid; it looks too studied. And not very stylish – it looks like the only way you can create an outfit that seems well put-together is to go for the most obvious technique.

About me

Szymon Jeziorko

My name's Szymon Jeziorko. I wear ties and write about it compulsively. More...

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