Simple Need Not Be Boring

Words by: Andrew Williams

(Credit: TheSartorialist)

In the mode of the best dressers I set out some time ago to clear out, plan and simplify my wardrobe. In my view all the best dressed men share an aptitude for the simple; and as I’m sure you’ve discovered, the simplest things are often the hardest to achieve.

Well, I’ve largely achieved my goal, and I am at ease with my choices, up to a point.

In terms of my business wardrobe I’ve followed my own advice, as laid out in my past column. Most notably, I’ve rationalised my shirts to plain whites, blues, pale pink and blue Bengal stripes. As for ties I use either knitted silk or wool in navy or black. Suits, are either plain navy or blue grounds with pinstripes –grey doesn’t sit well with my pale skin. I confess I bend the rules here as I really can’t give up my Prince of Wales Checks. On the whole I use pocket squares for interest and shoes for variety of texture, mixing brown and black leather and suede.

And as I say, I’m happy with the results, up to a point.

With simplicity comes the danger of monotony and ultimately staidness. The next step on my journey is to prove that simple doesn’t have to mean boring; and an interesting case in point, the gentleman above.

What he’s done is on the face of it pretty simple, combining two, possibly three, shades of blue. The tie is a plain navy silk knit and the suit looks to be navy cotton. He’s then been able to add a shirt in Turquoise and by keeping everything else simple dial down the volume of that shirt to great effect. The look is vibrant without being brash, playful without being silly, and summery while managing to maintain an air of elegant formality.


Since seeing this image over a year ago I’ve had it in mind for my summer wardrobe, and by chance my shirt maker Erlend had just such a shirt in stock when I visited him on Saturday. Needless to say, I bought it. And using those same core items of a blue silk knit tie and blue suit I’ve begun to think about other vibrant plain shirts: pinks, bold yellows and even mint greens as perfect keynotes for summer days.

This one is a work in progress, but I’m convinced simple can be clever, original, bold and beautiful.