One of the hallmarks of the preppy approach to dressing is that clashing colors are embraced. The most notorious example is pink and green. But we don’t living in a preppy era, and today one of the most prevalent sartorial sins is not clashing, but over-matching.
I’ve got an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that critiques the growing trend for match-matchy outfits in everyday business attire as well outfits for golf and tennis. My original, alas cut for length, had this preppy passage:
In the world of sport, the matchy-matchy dressing formula has become so prevalent in professional golf that PGA players are starting to resemble LPGA players, minus the skirt. In the days before Rickie Fowler started matching his belt to his driver head, the WASPy country-club formula was always to wear clashing colors, such as the preppy cliché of kelly green flagrantly contrasted against bubble-gum pink. But just as today’s professional golfers are more muscular and athletic than those before, their clothing has followed a logical progression that began with the Scottish tweeds of the “sport of kings,” passed through the yellow-pants-with-sky-blue-shirts phase depicted in “Caddyshack,” until finally reaching today’s polyester performance fabrics in the matching combos associated with basketball uniforms. In tennis, another sport once governed by upper-class English taste, the sacrosanct Wimbledon garb of all white (a neutral color, like black, navy, gray and tan), has been supplanted by attire heavily weighted on accent colors, such as a neon-green shirt worn with matching headband, wristband, shoelaces and grip tape.
Head over here for the full story. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Christian writes: “I’ve got an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal…”
Christian, I’d say getting a piece in the WSJ is another milestone in your writing career (unless I missed the fact you’ve been published there before).. Congratulations!!
I had the “Whoever said golf was supposed to be fun?” piece a few months ago. Tried to parlay it into a regular style column at the paper. I’ll try again….
Squeeze, I almost went with this photo:
“… I had the “Whoever said golf was supposed to be fun?” piece a few months ago. Tried to parlay it into a regular style column at the paper. I’ll try again….”
Yes, again. And again, if need be. And I think you’ll succeed. Because besides perseverance you’ve got great talent and a gift for integrating trad style and American culture into thought provoking stories that readers across multiple generations can learn from and enjoy.
BTW, if you’re not too big time now to take requests from the peanut gallery (now THERE’s an early-Boomer childhood phrase…) I’d like to see more of the great pieces in which you connect trad style with jazz and instrumental albums from the 1950s and 60s..
No mention of perhaps the most notorious matchy-matchy offender in the history of tone-on-tone menswear, Regis Philbin. There was even a Regis Philbin line of monochrome shirts and ties by Van Heusen at Macy’s several years ago.
I’m surprised that the Journal did not run this photo of Regis, shown with his co-host, in matching aprons: http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/pictures/regis-philbins-funniest-moments-on-live-20111511/18523
Can you lend me 4 bucks, Christian?
Whatcha need it for?
We need it to read the article.
Congrats on such an excellent piece, in such a prominent forum! From the comments at the WSJ site, it’s clear that many don’t like being told that they are bad dressers.
One correction–to your Latin: *ars, artis* is a third-declension noun. Thus the correct accusative singular form is *artem*, not *artum*. I’m sorry for the pedantry, but, to some, the decline in the numbers of Americans who took Latin in school is just as much a concern as the matchy-matchy look!
Hmm, it was working for me earlier without a login. Maybe it expires at a certain time of day.
You’re right about the Latin. I simple mis-remembered the spelling. Have no idea how to do declensions.
Can’t log in either myself and never got a chance to see the comments.
Or it’s a bait-and-switch scheme…
Head to Google, do a search for “Guys, Enough With the Matchy-Matchy Clothes” and then pull up the results. You should get a “first-click free” read of the full article.
Nice piece and unfortunately true.
Hearty congratulations for a great piece in today’s WSJ and best wishes for much continued success.
Thank you, Mr. Brown. Well done, Christian.
You’re in good company concerning declension erudition–or the lack thereof. Try this on for size; you may find it fits the next time you have a conversation with a table.
If you think pink and green ‘clash’, I’m afraid you don’t get it, old fellow. As, indeed the picture above demonstrates. Red and orange clash, for example. But good luck with your journalism.
Hard to know at this point if pink and green clash or not, since to me, they do not. Could be that years of U inbreeding has clouded my perception. Guilty as charged.
Sorry, HAVE clouded my perception. I need another Scotch.
congrats on the piece – well written and conceived.
It’s not just one article, it’s an agenda: to bring even minimal awareness of good taste to a culture mired in philistinism. Keep up the good work, Christian!
I was able to read the article via Google, but it didn’t include comments. It would be interesting to know what people objected to — can anyone who read the comments tell us something?
XAVIER L SIMON Wrote:
Sorry but I just find today’s cloths and the way they are worn weird. Call me conservative if you want ;).
Sy Corenson Wrote:
Silicon Valley “slob” is the way to go.
Scott Ries Replied:
I’ve come to far in life to intentionally look like Mark Zuckerberg.
Sue Abercrombie Wrote:
There is a photograph with this article, which states, “But Mr. Dufner also wore a shirt in the same peach shade. The matchy-matchiness didn’t end there: His wife wore a hat and dress with a pattern identical to her husband’s jacket, and she carried a handbag that had his shirt’s same peachy hue.”
The photo ‘doesn’t show the wife’s handbag. It definitely shows that her hat and dress, though a similar blue, were not patterned at all.
It appears that the author is making much ado about not so very much.
Toni Mack Wrote:
At first I thought the author had a narrow-minded view of how men should dress. “Like me.”
Then I found the Esquire picture-article “THE EVOLUTION OF MEN’S STYLE: 1933-NOW,” and darned if the men in suits in the 1930s don’t look the best of the lot.
Donna Voltner Replied:
Oh, yes. one reason I love old movies is because I appreciate how elegant stars like Cary Grant dressed and moved in those days.
I remember seeing a picture of Brad Pitt on the cover of some magazine back in the ’90’s. Pitt is, of course, a very handsome man, but in that picture he had long greasy hair and a 3 or 4 day beard and was wearing a vomit-colored sweater with a hole in it.
The only way Grant or Erroll Flynn or Gable or Stewart would have been caught looking like that in public would have been if they had been stranded on a desert island for a month with no way of grooming themselves and a photographer was on the rescue plane.
The ’60’s ushered in the Era of Slob.
Scott Ries Replied:
I reviewed the slide show- as Donna Voltner, points out, we went downhill in the 1960s, and never recovered.
I remember having to buy a leisure suit in 1976 so I could be my brother’s best man at his first wedding. I’ve never forgiven him.
Toni Mack Replied:
You have my sympathy.
Mitchell Shamoon Wrote:
Brummell is famous for saying “If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable”.
RODGER POTOCKI Wrote:
There’s not much that could be done to make Dufner look good. He could try trimming his hair and losing some weight. Good thing he can putt.
Frank Gallenstein Wrote:
What a bunch of fops, including the author.
Steven Ferre Replied:
the word “fop” sprang to my mind as well. Anyone who gets this twisted over someone’s pocket square needs to examine his/her priorities.
Charles Scott Replied:
I don’t want Fop.
Donna Voltner Replied:
Must the choice be between Fop and Slob?
We ladies appreciate some basic attention to grooming and dress on the part of men (“Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man”) That doesn’t mean we want a guy who is going to be deadly competition for the bathroom mirror, but geez, men who look like they pick out the day’s outfit by shutting their eyes and grabbing stuff out of the dresser drawer and closet do not appeal either.
Thomas Yasin Wrote:
Has the author not heard than jeans and sport coat are the new suit? Wing tips without socks are in? How quaint he is!
Joann Walsh Wrote:
men whose wives get them to coordinate their outfits wind up having a girlfriend on the side
Donna Shaw Wrote:
I have never forgotten the sight of my uncle’s father, who stopped by their home on the way home from the golf course, dressed in plaid knickers with knee high stockings and a matching hat, driving a little racing green sports car. I couldn’t stop staring. The crazy colors on the golf course could not have been as bad as plaid knickers.
DOUG VAN DUKER Wrote:
Men’s clothiers are more about market than style. Every few years, neck ties seem to go from wide, then to medium, and then to skinny. The *in* colors also change both annually and seasonally for two very simple reasons: marketing and sales. The average guy isn’t going to be on a red-carpet anytime in his life, and doesn’t want to spend half his take-home pay attempting to stay in fashion.
Merchandisers would have you purchase everything worn by snotty-looking GQ models; pretending to be rich East-coast American aristocrats, vacationing in the Hamptons with bored young women looking equally pretentious.
The article’s main theme is that men should be well-dressed in a cultivated manner that doesn’t appear to have been belabored over. No argument, but here’s my non-fashion plate simplified alternative proposal: purchase well-made and quality clothing; dress in a manner suitable for the occasion, don’t wear colors or textures that clash—and most of all, remember; you’re dressing to impress your significant other, not a fashion magazine writer…unless that’s what floats your boat.
Brandon Coutant Wrote:
What a bloody fop.
TOM PAINTER Wrote:
what is worse than the fashion the author complains about?
that the WSJ thinks it is serious enough commentary for their pages
CandH Siegrist Wrote:
I miss Payne Stewart
Danny Hoffert Wrote:
It’s difficult to get worked up over men’s clothing colors when so many men are wandering around without wearing socks.
Thanks for adding in the comments here. The most interesting part to me is to see that the comment section of the WSJ is not much different than the comment section here.
Where on land in nature does the color pink not appear with green? 😉
I’d have ought the comment we ought to pay attention to is the one by Donna Voltner
“Must the choice be between Fop and Slob?
We ladies appreciate some basic attention to grooming and dress on the part of men (“Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man”) That doesn’t mean we want a guy who is going to be deadly competition for the bathroom mirror, but geez, men who look like they pick out the day’s outfit by shutting their eyes and grabbing stuff out of the dresser drawer and closet do not appeal either.”
If Mrs. Hunter is typical, Donna has it right.
* I’d have thought…
Overall, I agree with Donna, but the question that comes to my mind is, “What is too much?” In today’s climate I am concerned that this may mean a blazer, tie, chinos, and loafers. I would like to think that I am not “deadly competition.”
“Men who look like they pick out the day’s outfit by shutting their eyes and grabbing stuff out of the dresser drawer and closet do not appeal either.”
A very wise and trad man told me that one of the biggest adavantages to dressing trad is that you can shut your eyes, grab stuff, and you will always look put together.
For years, I was brainwashed into believing that I shouldn’t wear a solid navy tie with a navy blazer. Also brainwashed into believing that I had to wear burgundy/oxblood/”cordovan” loafers (not black ones) with my grey flannels and navy blazer. Both “rules” were total nonsense.
Christian, congratulations on another WSJ piece. I saw it when I was reading the WSJ yesterday morning, read it and then saw your name and felt (recognizing that I had nothing to do with it) pride as I thought, “that’s the guy whose website I read everyday.” I hope you can turn it into a regular column. I don’t want to say anyone’s name, but one of the local NYC weathermen – who seems like a really nice guy – is a big time matchy-matchy dresser: his tie and pocket square will, on most days, perfectly or almost perfectly match the stripe in his suit. It’s a shame as you can tell he puts effort into dressing, but he doesn’t know that he comes off as a little kindergarden looking. Maybe he’ll catch your article and up his game. Great job.
Mr. Redhouse, the reason for avoiding a navy tie with a navy blazer is the same as the reason for avoiding charcoal (or, worse yet, black) pants with a navy blazer. Because the two tones (or colors, in the case of the pants) are so close to each other, the eye gets confused: which should I look at? It jumps between the two, rather than moving up towards the face.
A solid navy tie with a navy blazer is less egregious than navy, charcoal, or black pants with a navy blazer, but it’s still hard to pull off. Texture will save the day on that one.
While burgundy loafers look great with gray flannels & blazer, other colors work too, so I agree with your assessment that that rule is total horse flop.
If one is wearing a white or light blue shirt, I can assure you that the navy necktie and the navy blazer complement each other. Do try it.
By the way, do you remember when we said “navy blue”, rather than “navy”?
Mr. Redhouse, you are right that it should be “navy blue.” I do remember that time.
While I agree that a navy blue tie can work with a navy blue blazer, I also think that it takes effort to make that combination work, effort to avoid the clash I mentioned above. In my opinion, the best solid navy blue ties for pairing with a blazer are knits and grenadines, hence my comment that “texture will save the day.”
While I do wear solid navy blue ties with some of my blue jackets, I don’t pair them with a blazer. Personal preference: I like patterns, especially in my ties. If my jacket (or suit) is solid, then I nearly always wear a patterned tie.
While white and light blue shirts are wardrobe staples and are always right with a blazer, I have come to prefer yellow, and, better yet, pink shirts with navy blue blazers.
The photo/still above made my day. The little kid in the tweed jacket is my buddy Dave, who was one of the extras for Making the Grade, which was filmed at Rhodes College back in the mid-80s. Thanks for that.