Good things come in pairs. Be it buses, the queue to Noah’s Ark, or lists of analogies: we’re led to believe that life is all about matches. Which, as anyone who’s suffered through one working iPod earbud knows, is true. And the matching mantra seems to be affecting our wardrobes. After years of being told to mix it up and avoid one block ensemble, the likes of Wooyungmi, Berthold and Versace sent fully coordinated looks down the SS16 runways – we’re talking outfits in matching violet shades, floral two-pieces and monochrome shorts-and-shirt sets. Granted, few men have the balls (or the desire) to rock Milan’s more outlandish trends, but the high street has diluted the co-ord into a more palatable form. And there are plenty of choices. However, that doesn’t make the perfect match easy to wear. As with all left-field trends, there’s a margin for error. Here’s how to navigate it.
Play By The Rules
While there are rules to follow with co-ords, they’re more straightforward than you’d think. “There are several settings in which co-ords will flourish or flounder,” explains Kasia Katner, stylist at Thread. “And the secret is to know your setting and choose accordingly. A full set may look great on holiday or a night out, but less if you require traditional dressing.” And as for accessories? “The matching motif, be it print, colour or texture, is your statement and doesn’t need more colour from your rucksack or trainers. Keep everything else muted and let the co-ord converse for itself.”
Take Your Outfit Into The Deep
A back-to-back botanical print offers impact, but is there a subtler way into the co-ord trend? “A tonal outfit is an easy route into co-ords,” Katner says. “Classic colours like navy or black offer a minimal look.” While block monochromes are easy to pull-off, an all-black ensemble is hardly innovative. Which is where fabric choice steps in. “Choosing a range of textures can add depth to your outfit. Herringbone, treated cottons and choice knits can all elevate a look from the norm without relying on bold prints or patterns.”
Follow The Floral Road
The assimilation of florals into menswear is old hat, but head-to-toe hydrangeas are less common. Which means there are rules to bear in mind before taking a wander round the rose garden. “Familiar prints like florals work well, but stick to a paler, classic iteration,” says Katner. “Full coordination in a bright floral colour can look costumey and unless you’re on a runway, can also be pretty hard to pull off.” But the print needn’t be limited to just, well, flowers. High street takes include palm leaves, forestry and microprints – it doesn’t have to be all-out greenhouse to be considered floral.
Just as tonal is an option, so too is an outfit that could challenge a flag at Pride. But it isn’t for everyone. “Brightly coloured co-ords make much more of a statement than quieter hues,” says Katner. “So only go for it if you’re confident and don’t mind extra attention – co-ords are not for wallflowers.” Which is a valid point. Half the skill of style (let alone pulling off difficult trends) is being comfortable in your get-up. If you’re all nervous and shaky knees, chances are you’ll look – and feel – ridiculous. First, make sure the hues suit not just each other, but your complexion; hot pink doesn’t work with many skin tones. Emerald green, cobalt blue and burnt orange, on the other hand? Much easier. (Related: How to pick the right colours for your skin tone)
If pansies or primary colours aren’t your thing, there’s a huge selection of prints to hand. Stripes, camo, geometrics or polka dots, various volumes and tones exist, but the same rules apply. The aim is to craft a look that is far from the realm of your nightwear drawer. So, avoid fabrics like charmeuse or satin that could easily be mistaken for pyjamas (and 1990s Italian drug dealer threads). And again, calmer colours are your friend.