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MENSWEAR DIARIES: KIND OF BLUE

14.08.15

Is there a more versatile colour than blue? From navy to cobalt, palest blue to inky midnight, there's no end to sartorial credentials of blue. In this week's Menswear Diaries, we dissect why blue in its various forms is one of menswear's mainstays.

KIND OF BLUE

Cobalt, midnight, airforce, indigo and - of course - who can forget navy. Though each season will repeatedly offer its new styles and reinventions, you can always be sure of one thing; menswear will be awash with shades of blue.

Blue - acknowledged for its ability to be largely inoffensive and part of the background - is roundly written-off as a safe option, a signifier of a wardrobe lacking imagination. We however beg to differ.

Reiss AW15 men's moodboard

Blue’s unique appeal lies precisely in its ability to be whatever what its wearer wants it to be. While black will always be the colour of cool sartorial indifference and white a blank canvas, blue’s merits are limitless.

So, who can blame countless generations of men for relying on the colour to form the base of their wardrobe? From darkest navy tailoring to mid-wash indigo jeans right through to the palest blue of an Oxford shirt, for many men, the colour has been quietly defining their style throughout their lives.

INDIGO

Indigo - most commonly seen on denim - is a halfway house on the spectrum of blue. It's neither as intense as navy nor as muted as light blue, but what it lacks in conclusiveness it more than makes up for in flexibility.

A brief history: Indigo as a dye has long been extracted from plants and takes its name from Indigofera, a plant which was chiefly used as a source of the dye. Though today's indigo dyes are largely synthetic, in one form or another, the hue has been colouring fabrics for centuries. Why it works: Indigo's utilitarian nature (it is the colour of standard denim and many military uniforms after all) renders it ideal for forming the base of a man's wardrobe, whatever the season. How to wear it well: As its appeal lies in its ability to seamlessly slot into any outfit, with indigo there are few steadfast rules to abide by. Our tip for the season? Wear a single piece of indigo with an all-black outfit for a stylish point of difference or alternatively work the colour into a tonal blue look. For a lighter way to wear indigo, pair a denim shirt in the hue with sand chinos and white Jack Purcell trainers. AW15 key styles: the Diego denim slim-fit shirt, the Scooby slim-fit jeans

NAVY

Navy has a restrained, sophisticated feel (hence its enduring suitability for workwear) but is easier to wear than black. In short, it's always appropriate and is one of the wisest wardrobe choices a man can make.

A brief history: Since 1748, navy has been the colour adopted for the uniforms of British navy officers, and the world’s sea bound forces followed suit, hence the hue’s name. The colour navy is a collective term for a range of intense blues with each historically taking indigo dye as a base. Most typically though, navy has come to be commonly accepted to be a dim, subdued blue, just a step up from the shade at its darkest. Why it works: It has been countless times been quipped that everybody and everything looks good in navy. An ability to be subtle or sharp, classic or contemporary (or all of the aforementioned at once) make navy blue a must-have for stylish men the world over. Whether in the weave of a suit or the stripe of a Breton top, navy blue’s impressive ability to bestow these diverse qualities on its wearer have earned it a permanent place in menswear’s collective consciousness – something which shows no sign of changing any time soon. How to wear it well: Play to navy's pared-back feel by teaming your navy with white or black. In the late summer/early autumn freshen up navy chinos with a white crew neck T-shirt and white lace-up trainers. When the weather gets brisker, swap out a white T-shirt in favour of a black waffle weave jumper, replacing your trainers with a pair of black monk strap shoes. When wearing navy suiting, go classic. A white shirt and knitted navy tie will make timeless companions, but for a contemporary edge (workplace dress code permitting) add a pair of luxury trainers. AW15 key styles: the Point checked blazer, the Point checked trousers, the Denman chunky knit cardigan

COBALT

One of the boldest ways to wear blue, cobalt has an eye-catching appeal  and - if wisely placed - is a surprisingly simple way to add life to your wardrobe, even when worn with paired-back shades.

A brief history: Traditionally, cobalt blue was used as pigment used to colour porcelain, jewellery and paint. Used in impure forms in Chinese ceramics for centuries, it was a discovery in 19th century France which led to the colour being used in its purest form. As a result the hue sprang up in works by some of the century’s most celebrated artists, and subsequently, menswear. Why it works: Cobalt blue confidently debunks the myth that blue is limited in its appeal and versatility - it's anything but dull. Rich, vivid and searingly intense, cobalt is blue at its most energetic, and thus it's ideal for adding a hit of bright colour to lift your wardrobe. Admittedly, it may not offer the same wear-with-anything versatility as indigo or navy, but the colour is instead ideal for adding a potent block of colour to looks. How to wear it well: Cobalt blue is at its best when worn to break up solid black. Try a cobalt blue jumper worn with black boots and black jeans. Feeling braver? A cobalt blue pea coat offers a lively way to fend off wintry chills, and will make a fine sartorial companion for a black cashmere roll neck, black tailored chinos and classic brown Chelsea boots. AW15 key styles: the Saber textured knit jumper Discover our AW15 men's blue edit