Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Young Man: Pattern Mixing

Before I get to the post, apparently the last post celebrating my 1 year anniversary was also my 200th post. Weird.

Anyways, on to the post.

There is an old rule in menswear that says a man should wear two solids and a pattern. That makes three pieces, meaning suit/jacket, shirt, and tie (pocket squares are left out, but I imagine if they were included it would be three solids and a pattern). Presumably the idea is that if this rule is adhered to, the resulting outfit will be kept from being too busy, which would confuse the eye of the looker, drawing the eye away from the face of the wearer (attracting attention to the face is the whole purpose of clothing, according to Flusser). This is all well and good, and I respect those who can adhere to the rule, but I can’t help mixing patterns all over the place. I rarely have one or zero patterns on, mostly three or four.

Now, I am certainly not saying that I am able to pull off the four patterns very well. In the chapter on pattern mixing, Flusser gives the examples of the Duke of Windsor and Fred Astaire as the masters of the four pattern scheme. I’m nowhere near them. I probably don’t even do it very well, but I really can’t help doing it.

For instance, today I am wearing a Uni striped shirt, an emblematic tie (the fox and horn one), a herringbone jacket, and a paisley/geometric patterned pocket square. I didn’t plan on wearing four patterns today. I just pulled out this shirt and then the tie and then the jacket and then the square. It wasn’t until later that I realized there were four patterns in this outfit. It just turns out that way most of the time.

The main thing that is needed in mixing patterns - and especially three or four (or five, with socks or trousers) - is change in scale. For example: the stripes in my shirt are close, the h-bones are a little further apart, the emblems are bigger and wider apart, and the square is so detailed that it sort of defies scale (if that makes sense, maybe it would be better to say that the patterns are large), and so works.

I suppose one reason I so often mix patterns is because of the way I buy things. Shopping at a thrift store makes a person susceptible to what the store has at that moment. I would order more plain shirts or jackets or ties if I could afford to buy them at BB or JPress or other places. But I buy the things I see at the thrift store and which I like. But in any case, I enjoy wearing outfits with multiple patterns, and don’t think I will stop any time soon.

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