Bright Trousers

One of my favourite pleasures of the summer, something that lasts all too short a time, is basking in the bountiful beauty of colour. The magnificent flowers and trees, the lush cool blue-green waters, brightly coloured exotic fruits that quench your thirst on a warm blue day; the summer can be a blinding plenitude of tone. It’s rather sad then that on my more blithesome days, I have not always been able to mirror the glory of nature in the summertime. I have been comparatively moderate. Nature has blasted through the kaleidoscope and I have remained relatively lifeless. What am I driving at? Simply that colour is needed at this time of year; and a good deal of it.

It’s difficult to wear a great acreage of colour and remain conservatively dressed. A pink or bright green suit sounds very natty and extremely daring but I find the overall effect of such loud ensembles rather disconcerting. A man dressed thus will push the concept of individual style to the very precipice; where the long fall into the flames of absurdity may be viewed. It may be possible to temper the strength of the suit with a far more conservative choice of shoe, shirt and tie but even then, the kiwi coloured man smacks of something zany; a caricature of something from Roald Dahl.

I believe the quenching solution to a thirst for colour lies with the unity of contrasting jacket and trouser; of the staid and the gaudy, the bright and the dull. Some might favour a brightly coloured jacket with trousers, perhaps a lemon yellow with some light grey trousers. The ‘bright jacket/dull trouser’ combination certainly works, but is it manageable and indeed affordable? The other option, the ‘bright trouser/dull jacket’ combination is certainly more popular and works magnificently well. Beautiful berry red trousers with a cool navy blue blazer; a dark brown linen two-button with pink chinos, or even a black double breasted jacket with some tangerine jeans, brightening up your legs is a fantastic way to embrace and reflect the glorious colour of the summer.

The difference between the jacket/trouser combinations is a matter of personal taste and budget. There will be those who look on their legs unfavourably; who would not dream of glorifying them in colour. I have had reservations about the bright trouser in the past, but it is largely a psychological problem that it is possible to overcome. The trousers are very eye-catching, but therein lies the charm.

The same can be said of the bright jacket. Although more expensive than trousers, and available in fewer colours and from fewer retailers, the richly coloured jacket will shock those virginal to its effect when they first enter the dressing room; a bright orange jacket I tried on recently, despite being of a fruity and gorgeously deep colour, overpowered me rather too much for me to accept it as a garment for my wardrobe. I feared that I do not have the stature nor the frame to compete.

However, I can envisage the same jacket looking dazzling on many men; and worn with a pair of navy cotton trousers, the bright/dull combination, the meeting of the fantastical with the mundane, would complete the perfect image for the summer.


  1. Jenna said:

    I really like this look and have adopted it myself. I learned about it in Sardinia and how to do it correctly. Unfortunately, most people don’t really like this look and those who do don’t know how to pull it off.

    June 17, 2008
  2. Roderick Mallia said:

    Yes it’s hard to pull off without looking like some extra from a circus or theatrical company. I’m really tempted to give my wardrobe some colour this Summer, but I’m a bit hesitant to do so, to be perfectly honest (probably until I find the ‘right’ pair of trousers).

    June 17, 2008
  3. Simon Crompton said:

    I have a (probably irrational) dislike of bright trousers like this. They were worn by many people from college onwards who showed no stylistic interest yet consistently wore exactly what their fathers wore, no matter what their age. The arrogance particularly associated with bright red trousers earned them the nickname “f*ck-off trousers”.

    So an irrational aversion but an aversion nonetheless. I would also comment that they look far better on deeply tanned or dark-skinned men. They can wash out the skintones of many others.

    June 18, 2008
  4. Kai said:

    I’m with Winston on this one. When to wear these if not summer. Come on people, add some color and cheer up.

    June 18, 2008
  5. Jenna said:

    Once again the race issue.

    June 18, 2008
  6. Jason said:

    What race issue? He was just stating that brightly coloured trousers looked better on darker skinned people, which they do.

    June 18, 2008
  7. Vickan said:

    Red trousers are very often worn by the Swedish King Carl Gustav XIV. =)

    I think they look very smart and nice in summertime! Even sexy ..

    June 18, 2008
  8. Jenna said:

    I work for L’Officiel magazine in Paris and we don’t discuss race like this even if it is true. It is unprofessional and inappropiate. During the last Paris fashion week we had many bright colours on the runway yet “dark” models were not wearing the clothes. During meetings for cover choices and photo layouts race is never discussed in such ways. If you are a professional in any business you do not say such things or you would be in trouble. I would of been fired from my magazine for such remarks, regardless of how tame they were.

    June 18, 2008
  9. Vickan said:

    Jenna: That is a shame for your magazine and I think it would only make it less readable.
    Why inappropriate? I think that sounds silly. Anyone could tell me I wouldn’t suit blue, because I wouldn’t. Who cares?

    And- just because something is on the Paris runway- doesn’t mean it looks good. At all.

    June 19, 2008
  10. Vickan said:

    Jenna (again)- I am sorry if my comment might have sounded as criticism towards you. It wasn’t at all. More towards the people that are so politically correct that it turns absurd. Style should be about what looks good, not about political correctness =)

    June 19, 2008
  11. Ben said:

    No, I can’t buy into this. You can add colour elsewhere and not be so blatant about it.

    I think justifying this kind of behaviour by saying wearing anything less colourful is boring, is a falacy.

    June 19, 2008
  12. Kai said:

    I’m just saying if you’ll add color at all (and IMO you should) summer pants are the way to go. Bravo Winston!

    June 19, 2008
  13. Turling said:


    I was unaware I was prejudiced against, because I have a tan. Is skin tone not one of the main points used when choosing which colors look best on you? I have red in my skin tone and do not look good in pink in any way shape or form because of it. Race is not relevant and I fail to see where anyone mentioned it.

    June 19, 2008
  14. Jenna said:

    I am not saying that this is a horrific matter to which we are discusssing. As a part of the fashion world, somethings are just left alone, like in any business. You simply can’t be at a meeting with Anna Wintour (editor of American vogue) and say “Anna, I think this yellow outfit looks better on Naomi because she is black and not on Claudia because she is white”, she would fire you on the spot. I am only 28, I don’t know if this is a new politial correctness or not, but it is there. For this blog, it was something simple, so I am sorry for reacting like I did, but if this was Vogue, or Elle I wouldn’t be able to contain myself.

    June 19, 2008
  15. Jenna said:

    Another great example is what happened with Abercrombie and Fitch. They said that there clothes and style were better suited toward whites and that the associates in their stores should reflect that look. They were sued by dozens for millions of dollars and they lost. They were talking about image, but that there clothes looked better on a certain skin tone as well. I am only saying that if you are in the fashion business as I am, be careful, that is all. You can offend people very easy today.

    June 19, 2008
  16. Chris said:

    I must say, this is an interesting thread. Jenna, I am curious, how then would you discuss that very situation you described concerning Ms. Campbell and Ms. Schiffer? If you are precluded from speaking about their skin tone, one of the more significant factors considered when pairing a model with their clothing, how on earth do you even address the issue? I really doubt that topic does not come up at all – not once. I find the logic here, or lack thereof, a little bizarre.

    Political correctness certainly abounds in many industries but the intensity of your initial reactions seem a bit disingenuous given that the fashion business’s primary driver is manipulating appearance.

    To be very clear, I am not challenging your personal beliefs nor am I questioning your values. I simply find your magazine’s line of thinking somewhat irrational.

    June 19, 2008
  17. Alain said:

    Jenna’s comments are troubling, all the more so because it’s probably true that the fashion world works like that.

    I for one refuse to indulge in such a superficial, hypocritical, and absurd racism. Yes, racism. Because it makes an issue of race when it shouldn’t be one –and it never should.

    I select my clothes based on my complexion, hair and eye color. My selections would be different if I was black. But i guess according to Elle, I belong to the Klu Klux Klan.

    June 20, 2008
  18. Jenna said:

    This is becoming bigger than I expected it to be. I wish my English was a bit better so I could explain myself a bit better. Let me say this. When we pick a model for the cover or a model for the runway, we don’t consider race in contrast with the clothing. If you see most magazines and runways lately, they are pretty much all white models. Brazil is a good example. I am not saying that this is racism and omg, I am so upset. I am saying that if you were to tell Beyonce in Paris at Chanel that certain pieces look better on her because she is black, you will get fired. You wait for her to bring it up. I can say this looks good with your skin tone, but to bring it into race would be the kiss of death. When Alain brought up black is when it becomes a problem. To go out and say that colourful clothes look BETTER on darker people is fine, say that, but don’t say that front row at Versace, or a the Ralph Lauren show room with Ralph there, or while dressing Beyonce or Halle for the red carpet, you will be surprised of the outcome.

    June 20, 2008
  19. Ben said:

    I really don’t like this look. It’s far too ostentatious, very gauche. In Australia we are just recovering from a thoroughly awful friend towards florescent clothes, so you’ll forgive my need for sobre colour choices. It think these clothes, tonal speaking, do work better with people with darker skin tones. Otherwise the people look even whiter (almost translucent) and washed out, which isn’t a great look.

    Jenna, if my french was a good as your english I would be very happy!

    June 20, 2008

Comments are closed.