In the photo, the late Richard Merkin reminds us of the importance of scale for successful pattern mixing (not to mention the principle that one should never be photographed on an incompatibly patterned bedspread). Experienced dressers know that patterns with different scales can be successfully combined, like Merkin's dotted tie and striped shirt body. Even his braces work in context, though as underwear we need not take them into account.
The simplest form of dress uses color for variety among the four above-the-waist ensemble elements, such as the combination of a navy suit, light blue shirt, white pocket square and solid silver necktie. Adding pattern, such as a white pinstripe on the suit or a shirt with a navy stripe on the light blue ground, adds interest. One or two patterns among the four elements is elementary. Three is more advanced, and four is the domain of the expert, especially for business dress. Four patterns can easily be flashy, a desireable characteristic for boulevardiers like Merkin but less appropriate for most men. Flashy, that is, unless a man uses texture as his pattern.
To my taste, texture is the most important element in dress, for it adds visual interest without flash. Revisit the ensemble described in the previous paragraph and this time think of the suit in woolen flannel rather than worsted and the necktie in grenadine rather than shiny silk. The textures of the grenadine and the flannel add visual interest, and do so quietly.
Use texture as pattern. And stay off of striped bedspreads.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Photo: Brigidi d