(Or not totally disheveled…)


‘Where are my clothes and what the hell am I wearing today?’ were my thoughts when I woke up hungover 10 minutes before my first seminar of the year. I was in a bit of a hurry and ended up committing a big infraction to dress sense in terms of colours. I hope this never happens to you, but here are a few thoughts in the area :

– Never wear brown shoes with black trousers (or, for the ladies, black tights, skirts, or anything below the waist). Brown, with its multiple shades, can go well with any colour, especially grey, charcoal, navy, purple, and dark green. Red trousers appear to be quite a classic, but they ought to be coordinated quite carefully. A very dark, tanned brown can work, but mid-brown shoes and red trousers is one of the tackiest combinations I’ve seen.

– Coordinate your sunglasses, shoes, belt, umbrella, and handbag. It seems much, but black, not being a colour, does require matching elements to work, and this sense of harmony is a very pleasant sign of basic dress sense.

– Pick colours according to your skin tone. Pink is truly great, but it hardly ever works on pale skins. Navy blue, however, works extremely well with lighter complexions, especially when dotted with cream…

– Following these three points, consider what tones go together and develop the combinations which you prefer. Off the top of my head: purple and dark green, pink, navy and grey, caramel and green, brown and cream, gold and dark green.

– Dress with the seasons. There are few things more humbly elegant than walking around wearing exactly what the weather requires: mid-weight wool when mild, thick worsted to heavy tweed when cold, linen or light cotton when warm (which means that you still have about nine months to get a linen suit). On the subject of tweed, the whole magic of country garments (and indeed of any garments) operates when they are worn as what they were invented for. Tweed on a clear, mild autumn day when having a picnic or taking a bicycle ride across the countryside (or shooting things, if you’re into that) is a lovely, lovely companion, but seriously, wearing tweed on a Union night out (usually with a check shirt and a bright, striped, badly-knotted tie) isn’t the best sartorial decision one can make.

– Similarly, pick your colours accordingly. A grey, melancholy day requires more matted, subdued tones than sunny spring. (Incidentally, I ‘ve just seen someone walking down market street wearing a fuschia overcoat and a rainbow umbrella under the pouring rain, and it made me sad.)

To conclude, when in doubt, look at a picture of Prince Ed. He was always the sharpest, no matter how hard the hangover.


Peter Zahnd

Image by Nouveau Vintage