Men’s Dress Shirts – Understanding the Effect of Contrast on Color Selection
The first thing a person notices about a man's dress shirt is its color. In a crowded room of men in suits, your choice of dress shirt color will either help you stand out or blend in; neither of which is a bad thing, rather the key here is what are your intentions and do you know how to mix and match your clothing in order to fulfill them. The only way to do this is to gain mastery in understanding what colors complement you.
The Role of Skin Complexion, Hair, and Eye Color
A man's complexion, hair color, and eye color are the key indicators he should use when selecting the color of a fabric which will cover his body. Unfortunately, most men make their color decision based on what they have worn in the past, what colors are readily available, and the ever-changing winds of fashion. The result is what you see today at most networking events; a sea of solid white and blue dress shirts. The two most important factors in selecting dress shirt color are a man's skin tone and hair color. Eye color is a wild-card factor; in the cases where eye color strongly contrasts a man's complexion and hair color, it can be used to introduce colors that would otherwise not complement an individual. It is the relationship between these three factors that determines what contrast category a man falls into: either High, Low, or Medium Contrast
High Contrast Men
These are men whose hair color is a stark contrast to their skin tone; black hair with white skin is a perfect example. For high contrast men the key to looking good is to be able to mimic this color difference in their clothing with the contrast in their facial zone. A dark navy blue suit with a white dress shirt or a charcoal grey suit matched with an ice blue dress shirt are two combinations that complement high contrast men. Dark shirts with light suits, such as a light grey suit with a french blue dress shirt, is an option but requires confidence and warm weather. High contrast men are always complemented by strong ties that stand out from the shirt.
Low Contrast Men
As the name suggests, these are men with a muted appearance. Light hair and light skin is the most common variant, but men with red hair, bald men, and men with little hair also fall into this category. The strengths of these men are the exact opposite of the high contrast men above. Low contrast men should seek a monochromatic look, as that a strong contrasting outfit will easily overpower their muted tones. Remember the purpose of a frame (your clothing) is to enhance the picture (your face). In general, low contrast men fair well with dark blues and earth tone dress shirts combined with dark suits. When wearing light gray or tan suits, the low contrast gentlemen needs to stay with lighter colored shirts and earth tones; white is permissible here if the suit is light enough to avoid a stark contrast. Be careful in your choice of tie, if the neck-wear stands out too much it can draw attention from your face to your chest and stomach.
Medium Contrast Men
If you don't fall into one of the two extremes, you most likely fit into this group. Brown skinned men with dark hair are common members, along with lighter skinned men and with gray and white hair. With such a wide selection of facial tones and hair colors, it's hard to give specific guidance in this category. What we will say is that most men do not fit exactly in the middle; instead they lean towards either low or high contrast. The aforementioned dark haired men with brown skin; they lean towards the high contrast, and can not only utilize that man's color combinations but they can get away with a few subtle monochromatic combinations. The same with the light skinned gentlemen with gray hair. He is more similar to the low contrast individual, and would do well to follow the rules set forth for that man. However, he can very successfully pull off a contrasting outfit, especially if his eyes or another feature complement the color combination chosen. To sum it up, medium contrast men can enjoy the best of both worlds, but should be careful when venturing too far in one direction.
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