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Bright wool for cold, sunny days

28 February 2009


Today is everyone’s favourite type of day: bright and sunny with a chill in the air. Sweater weather but lovely sitting in the sun. Yes, hot days in the UK are longed for and looked forward to more than any other. But cold sunny days are everyone’s favourite.

A day like this suits bright wool. Wool for warmth, bright to echo the sun.

Italians have a habit of wearing pale-grey flannel trousers in weather like this – cuffed and narrow, warm yet light. While cream trousers can work wonderfully too (see The Rules and How to Break Them No 3 – No white after Labor Day) the warmth of flannel reminds one of the cosiness of late winter as you are sitting in that chilly sun.

Even better on a day like this is some truly bright wool, like the green jacket in the picture from Ralph Lauren Fall 2008. Ok, it’s a little behind the times for fashion, but this is what was in the sales last month – exactly a year behind what’s on the catwalks. (I can’t get over how much more convenient that is than being six months behind.)

I recently acquired this jacket in the tail end of the sales. (Another quick aside on a consistent theme on this blog: the quality of RL service. Despite this jacket being the only one that was marked down 75% – everything else on the rails was 50% – the Bond Street store honoured the displayed discount, even honouring it on different sizes that were only marked as 50%.)

The key to wearing a bright piece like this is softening with muted colours elsewhere. Grey is the prime candidate, in trousers or in a sweater for example. Jeans also work well because they are a low-key, roughened material.

Ralph Lauren’s displayed combination is rather more showy, but this is driven by the impact of the catwalk. (For the same reason, no Ralph Lauren tailor would cut a jacket for man that tightly – so that the waist button is straining to stay closed, even when a man is just walking with his arms at his sides.)

To wear the jacket more formally, I would eschew the yellow socks and kipper tie. But I would retain some contrast – The Italian Background would be too plain for such a bright colour. It needs contrast in a conservative colour to support it, perhaps a white shirt with a dark-blue tie. Or the contrast collar this model is wearing.

Perhaps that should be The Italian Background’s younger relation – Luca Rubinacci to the older, more conservative Mariano. For use with high contrast suits and jackets.