Guys, beware of scary colours!


The other day Guy About Town walked into a branch of a well-known clothing group in Cape Town. Now, if you live in Cape Town you can be forgiven for thinking it’s still winter. But if you go into clothing shops you can’t possibly think that. The shelves shout Spring! With row upon row of items in every colour imaginable.

To Guy About Town’s friend, Metroman, the colour palette is enchanting. Blue isn’t just blue; every shade of blue has a name or, if someone hasn’t come up with a name yet, a code. Even black and white come in various shades. Guy About Town had always thought black was black and white was white, but it seems even something as simple and minimalist as the colour white can be a complicated issue.

Guy About Town dislikes complicated things. Simplicity and comfort are key words and the moment something becomes more complicated that it should be, it becomes the work of someone somewhere to make it simpler.

Everyone has heard questions such as, “Does this shirt go with these trousers?” or “Does this colour work with this colour?” And this while the man holds a butter-yellow shirt and a pair of crimplene orange shorts in front of the lady, who’s sitting at her dressing table working that ghd. One look at the lady’s face is enough to have the man put the items neatly back in the wardrobe. He knows the lady thinks his choice of clothes isn’t as tasteful as her pink blouse and green skirt. What to do? How do you match colours? What works and what is as inappropriate as a Miley Cyrus song at a funeral? A long time ago Guy About Town became acquainted with the colour wheel, a simple but useful representation of which colour choices complement each other and which would cause the lady at her dressing table to faint. Yours truly stuck a colour wheel in his wardrobe and uses it every day to make sure everything matches and complements one another. The colour wheel

The colour wheel comprises three groups of colours: primary, secondary and tertiary. Remember how you learnt about primary and secondary colours in Grade 1? The primary colours are red, yellow and blue. These colours can’t be created by mixing other colours together but can create every colour imaginable by being mixed with each other.

Secondary colours are created by mixing primary colours; yellow and red creates orange, blue and yellow creates green and red and blue creates purple. Tertiary colours are where Guy About Town draws the colour line: more subtle colours are created by mixing secondary colours. But Guy About Town feels that this is getting too complicated – and what’s more, then you end up with strange colours such as teal and coral.

How to use the colour wheel

Millions of pages have been written about the use of the colour wheel and it eventually gets as complicated as a wedding where the in-laws don’t get on. Guy About Town reckons the following are the basic principles for matching colours:

How, cool and neutral colours

Cool colours

are those derived from blue -- greens, purples and pinks. Think of a farm dam on a summer’s day or the beach in December.

Hot colours are reds, oranges and yellows. Braai fires and Nataniël’s outfits.

Neutral colours are like the boring girl: They don’t attract much attention and are as inconspicuous as white at a wedding. Think black, white, beige and olive.

Cool colours complement lighter skins, while hot colours work perfectly with darker skins. Neutral colours go with any skin. Guy About Town gives the example of the pale computer nerd in an orange shirt and pink pants. A ghost in robot colours is problematic, the children will be frightened. So what goes with what? Although the combinations are endless, the following works perfectly: Monochrome: A whole outfit in variations of one colour Example: a light blue shirt with dark blue jeans and a jersey reminiscent of the waters of an Indian Ocean island. Although it’s difficult to wear correctly, this outfit can be striking. Combine various textures to create depth. Left: Ryan Abel on Flickr. Rights: Eva Rinaldi on Flickr Complementary: Colours that appear opposite each other on the colour wheel These are colours such as purple and yellow, blue and orange, and green and red. Although they may sound odd together, contrasting colours complement each other well.

Example: An orange T-shirt with bright blue shorts will attract attention, especially if you have dark skin.

Analogous: Colours beside each other on the colour wheel can be worn together, provided the contrast differs

Example: Dark purple goes well with light blue or light pink. Grass green works well with light yellow. Just make sure there is a difference in contrast – don’t wear light purple with light blue.

Neutral: They go well with each other and with bright colours.

Photo: Neutral Malingering on Flickr

Example: Avoid strong colours together, such as black and dark purple, or beige and light yellow.

Rather wear black with light purple than with dark purple. Photo: Eva Rinaldi on Flickr

There are thousands of options but Guy About Town believes these basic groupings form the most successful combinations.

So stick a colour wheel in your wardrobe and experiment. Try a bright red tie with a blue shirt. Or yellow trousers with that purple T-shirt from your university days.

Try it!

Guy About Town and Metroman

Guy about Town and his mate Metro Man blog for YOU about fashion ideas for men who want to look good and fashionable without spending the price of a mansion or look like a strutting peacock. Join in their discussions on Twitter and Facebook.

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