Like most men, I depend too much on mid-gray odd trousers. Cream and tan linen see the light in summer, of course, and brown covert twill and olive flannel meet the cold in winter, but it is my mid-gray trousers in flannel and fresco that I reach for repeatedly. The reasons for this are simple. I am constitutionally and irrevocably vain, a quality I loathe vehemently. Getting dressed quickly is a compromise necessary to my mental health, and as mid-gray trousers go with everything, they remains something I needn’t fret over when I get dressed. Now, for a number of men wearing one of anything all the time is commensurate with wearing a uniform, but I find it difficult to argue that men everywhere aren’t wearing uniforms of one sort or another anyway (whether that man takes care to make the back blade of his knit tie three inches longer than the front or not) and so I wear mid-grey most of the time without those reservations. The only real problem I have with wearing mid-gray trousers too often is that many of my other odd trousers go unworn, none more so than those that are dark gray.
Though it is considered as versatile as mid-gray, I’ve never found much use for dark gray trousers, in part because it only rarely seems a stylish choice. When paired with navy, there is too little contrast. Paired with other grays, the effects can be a bit dated, at least for me, as whenever I try the combination I can’t seem to discard the comfort-shattering thought that I look like a boy borrowing his father’s clothes to go the junior dance in 1957. This last is only a matter of opinion, certainly. I’ve nothing resembling a good reason to think the combination is dated (except that few men do it now), but as a quick perusal of the clothing forums and blogs suggests, pairing two grays is not so easily executed. The question, then, is if a color can’t be paired easily with navy or gray, how useful can it be?
Alas, several pairs of dark gray tousers languish in my closet, and I’ve found that unless I force myself to wear such items, they occupy space for years before they become either a part of my daily wardrobe or a tax deduction. As my storage space is inadequate (wife, children, European apartment), hastening an article’s speed toward one or the other improves matters some (and allows me to buy something else). More importantly, though, such little trials help me refine my style, perhaps quicker than I might otherwise. In this case, I found more than a few reasons to keep my dark gray trousers around.
The simplest way to wear dark gray is to pair it with colors that seem enlivened next to it. A first choice here is tan, in a fairly broad array of shades, including camel, for which dark gray trousers are a perfect foil. A second choice is olive, also in many shades, though the lightest are best avoided. Mid and light blue jackets might be another suitable choice, as some men wear them with dark gray trousers to great effect, but I find other trousers usually prove more elegant with these blues.
Another easy way to wear dark gray trousers is with a jacket that has some dark gray or black in it, like the one Will is wearing in the photograph. In warmer months, try a tan and black checked silk and linen odd jacket with charcoal fresco trousers. In cooler months, a mid or dark brown herringbone tweed where half the scales are black can help blend top and bottom.
One can also make good use of charcoal trousers by wearing them casually. A heathered purple cashmere rollneck with charcoal gabardine will suit a lot of men, as will a lovat green shirt-jacket with charcoal flannel. Dark gray trousers may even replace dark denim on occasion, particularly if they are slim in the leg (though not if one plans to wear a t-shirt). Try a long-sleeved cotton polo in tan with charcoal tropicals.
These suggestions are just a start, but like many matters sartorial one learns what works through trial and error. So if your dark gray trousers are collecting dust, brush them off and wear them. You may discover you have use for them after all.