A long-time corporate client Matt over at W.Uden & Son’s got in touch recently. Over the last few years we’ve had the pleasure of keeping the Uden family looking their best in Morts & More tailoring. After helping him to design a new suit and set of bespoke shirts, he asked me for some advice on a pair of grey trousers we had made several months ago. He mentioned that he had not worn them yet, as he didn’t know what was best to wear them with? That’s a good question. The fabric was a beautiful grey/black blend, which gave it a slightly dark hue. I took a couple of days, then sent him my thoughts via a mood board.
It got me thinking perhaps other guys are pondering the same question but haven’t asked it yet. So, with that came the inspiration for this piece – looking at the best ways to pair grey trousers with other colours. Something more extensive than my original mood board – some timeless gems of advice to help with all matters grey!
Lets define grey
Grey is described as an intermediate colour as it sits between black and white. As long as you have black and white you can compose grey. It is also a neutral colour (or achromatic colour) which means that it has no colour (without colour). When I refer to grey being an achromatic colour, it’s not to confuse it with when I say monochromatic. Monochromatic refers to the combination of the different shades of one colour. So, for example, if you wear a Navy suit, blue shirt, and dark blue tie, then that look can be described as monochromatic.
I like working with neutral colours when it comes to fashion and putting together outfits – mainly because of the versatility they offer when combining them with other colours. So, when it comes to grey trousers, they’re one of the most versatile. It’s for this reason that I initially took the question of matching grey trousers as something that everybody already knew. However, I work with colours daily so what I consider straightforward shouldn’t always be projected on others. There are no questions out there that are not worth asking – especially when it comes to self-improvement.
Grey also has a great and diverse range of shades and tones, so has the ability to match more colours than others – keeping reading and I’ll explain how.
Where is this colour typically worn?
Grey can be worn in a multitude of environments. From weekday to weekend and casual to formal, grey will ft in. There isn’t anywhere I would say not to wear grey to (perhaps a funeral when black is requested). Grey or Navy are the most popular colours you’ll see men wear when it comes to business in the West. Grey or Navy are also two of the most popular colours men purchase their wedding suit in (when they come to Morts & More) – regardless, I still think that neither of these is the number one suit that every man should have. When comes to the casual weekend look – after guys have considered the blue jeans or chinos, it’s the grey (or black) jeans or chinos. Feel free to wear grey everywhere.
How to pair
To master pairing different colours with grey, you must first understand and master tones (tints and shades). Tone is straightforward, it simply describes the brightness of a colour – it ranges from light (tint) to dark (shade).
Now to find the most complimentary combination, we need to pair the tones.
Subtle vs Bold
How I suggest you pair the tones will depend on whether you’re going for a subtle and understated look of bold and overstated look. For the subtle I would suggest matching your tones (i.e. light grey trousers with light blue shirt or dark grey trousers with dark pink shirt). For the bold I would suggest contrasting your tones (i.e. light grey trousers with black shirt or dark grey trousers with light pink shirt).
Warm vs Cold
Other than dark and light, a tone can be described as either warm or cool. Warm tending to be the darker (richer) colours and cool gearing to the lighter (paler) colours. Despite the comparison to darker and lighter, the description or use of the warm and cold terms offer more depth. A cool shade will tend to evoke feeling of cold, such as ice, snow, wind! Wind may be a stretch but we’d all agree that ice and snow could be illustrated with the colour blue. Blue is described as a cool colour. Green is also a cool colour (think refreshing grass). A warm shade is any colour you would associate with warmth, such as yellow for a bright sun or orange and red for a fire.
In my opinion – warm and cool colours describe intensity; with the most intense being red, and the most soothing being blue. The warm colours are on the bolder side, the cool colours on the subtle side. Also, in my opinion – cool colours have a sliming effect, whereas warm colours tend to accentuate size.
Now the main reason I’ve brought up warm vs cold colours is to give some guidance on colour pairing.
For the subtler looks, keep cool shades with cool shades. So, light grey trousers will go well with light blue. If wearing deep grey trousers, where them with a warm shade like orange or brown.
When it comes to shoes black or dark brown or burgundy shoes go well with dark grey trousers, whereas light brown shoes or white trainers go well light grey trousers.
When to wear this colour
Here I’d like to discuss the shade of grey and its relevance to the time of year and climate. Usually in the summer months people tend to wear clothes that cool them down (vest and shorts etc), and during the winter months people tend to wear clothes that keep them warm (heavy fabrics, turtle necks etc). Keeping in mind the principles I’ve discussed regarding warm/cool colours, I will follow the same logic of dressing for the climate. In the summer weather light tones and cool colours are preferred (i.e. light grey, light pink, light green). In the winter weather warmer and darker tones are preferred (brown, orange, dark grey)
I’ve purposely steered clear of mentioning white and how it matches to grey because I feel it is the easiest option. White also being a neutral colour, in fact the most neutral colour (if that’s even possible), is even more versatile than grey. It goes with everything.
I hope this post has given you better insight into matching your greys perfectly and intentionally.
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