Today is gloomy on the coast, which meant that an hour spent perusing summer jacketing fabrics helped brighten the morning. And that led in turn to a thought about contrast.
You see, most experts advise that odd jacket ensembles have plenty of contrast between jacket and trousers to ensure that one's clothing is not mistaken for a suit. Now I suppose that is reasonable advice (though I am not completely certain why it should matter) but I originally interpreted the advice to be about color, and have since come to learn that simply combining dark and light is by no means all of it. For combinations in similar tones like the cream jacket and khaki trousers on HRH Prince Charles are quite effective.
The point of the matter is that there is contrast and there is contrast. Which is to say that contrast comes from reflected light, and it is more than just color. Different textures, such as the linen in the jacket and cotton on the trousers in the photo, produce their own contrast. And, in my opinion, similar colors with contrasting textures are more interesting than contrasting colors with similar textures.
Once we accept this principle, it becomes obvious why, for another example, flannel trousers pair so well with worsted blazers. As do gabardine jackets and linen trousers.
Of course, taking advantage of the principle of contrast calls for a bit of planning. When acquiring a new odd jacket, spend the bit of time necessary to acquire contrasting trousers. For a wardrobe consisting entirely of worsteds lacks contrasting textures, and is poorer for it.
Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images