Shots of Color

Words by: Stephen Pulvirent

So as summer weather begins to creep into our lives, the fresh, light colors of spring get a bit more intense and any outfit lacking in a dash of color seems out of place. But, that dash can be anything from a pink sportcoat and some go-to-hell trousers (quite a large dash), to something as small and simple as shoelaces.

There has been quite a bit written lately in the Men’s Style blogosphere and magazine world about these bigger dashes. Fabulous articles on vibrant prep attire and succinct pieces on lightening up abound, but I want for a moment to focus on the smaller things one can do to add a bit of color to life. Don’t get me wrong, I love a pair of loud trousers in the heat of summer just as much as the next guy, but on those days dominated by creme colored linen, I still yearn for a bit of saturation.

col-watch-strapsComing back quite strongly these last few years has been the nylon watch strap. Available in any color combination imaginable – from the dull grey and black NATO stripes favored by 007 to neon fluorescents that make checking the time almost painful – these straps can be had from any number of trade brands, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, and J. Crew all carrying quite a variety of both classic and modern patterns. If you want school or regimentals though, I cannot recommend Smart Turnout highly enough. For me, swapping out my black leather strap (which usually by springtime smells strongly of my winter fragrance) for this lighter, more breathable option is one of the first rituals of springtime; I think of it almost as a ribbon-belt for my wrist.

For an even smaller spit of color, the oft-forgotten shoelaces, almost always relegated to black, brown, or white, can be spruced up making a tiny change into a dramatic one. Taking the black laces out of your oxfords in favor of some blue, purple, or red ones may seem a bit silly, but takes a pair of business shoes and makes them a fun alternative for off-duty hours. Brown brogues look fantastically whimsical with hunter-green or red laces in them as well. Here is a great lace in a variety of colors, and at two dollars per pair, experimenting is fun and won’t break the bank.

col-tipped-squaresWhile you may not want to do something quite so bold as sporting a peacock blue watch strap or kelly green shoelace, there are ways to playfully update classics with a bit more color than usual, keeping things looking businesslike but with a hint of color. My two favorite examples of this are the tipped pocket square and the brightly stripped repp tie. The ever-appropriate and elegant white linen pocket square looks great in a summer blazer or sportcoat, but I like it even more when the edge is tipped in light blue or burgundy thread – just a small touch of the unexpected to accompany the expected. The same goes for repp ties: always classic, always seen in blue, red, and other primary/secondary colors, but also always available in brighter colors as well. Maybe wear a navy tie with pink stripes in place of plain navy, or lighten up the gold to canary yellow.

These may all seem like small matters, but that is just the point. Looking like you are on your way to a clam bake on The Cape is certainly not a bad thing, but adding some color and excitement to your wardrobe does not require anything this drastic. Now if you did all of these things at once though…