Colors in a Gent’s Wardrobe

We just wrote about how clothing trends have been shifting post-Covid.  We’re also heading into Fall which means a wardrobe change as we prepare for colder weather.  Thinking about shifting trends during a seasonal change is as good a time as any to consider how the colors in your wardrobe are driving how you dress.  But you can only take a second look at those colors in your wardrobe if you know color basics, so let’s talk about those first.

Primary and Secondary Colors

You may not remember from your days in art class that the primary colors are red, yellow, and blue.  They are considered “primary” because they are not made from the combinations of any other colors.  They are bright and grab the eye.  They are not choices to lead an outfit.

The secondary colors are green, yellow, and orange.  Sartorially, they are complementary to the primary colors. These also are not outfit-leading choices.

Neutral Bases

As you look in your wardrobe you might wonder why so many of your shirts are white, blue, or gray.  It’s not an accident: these colors are neutral and are good canvases for you to paint your style onto.  Other neutrals, which work well for trousers as well, include:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Khaki
  • Olive green
  • Sky blue

These neutral bases should comprise the majority of your wardrobe as they offer you maximum choice when building an outfit. 


When putting together an outfit you should always want to combine colors that make your outfit pleasant to look at.  You can do that by creating contrasts (examples include blue/orange and green/red) or complementing/shading (different shades of blue or gray are an easy choice for a business setting).  As you get more comfortable and have more pieces in your outfit that you want to harmonize, you should take a few moments to consider how all the pieces fit together.

This is done best by laying out all you plan to wear on a bed or other flat surface so that you can get a “pregame” look before putting it all on and then having to take things off and put others on if you don’t love the look.  It just takes a little extra time but it will save you grief and help you think through what you’re wearing.

Make It Your Own

Remember, while it’s great to look and feel your best by being intentional about your clothing, you’re also influencing how others think and feel about you.  The right color choices help bring your wardrobe together and telegraph that you’re someone who cares about how he looks.

Be willing to challenge yourself.  Many men pick subdued color schemes for their outfits because they are safe and hence don’t need too much thought. While that may be practical when you’re in a time crunch, it’s not a strategy for your everyday routine.  Take a few risks with one or two color pops in your outfits as we change seasons and you’ll notice how much better you feel about how you look.  Others will notice too, and tell you.

Do you have a “go-to” color combination that occurs frequently in your outfits?  Share it with us in the comments.

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