The Colour


Reader’s note: If you are entirely new to this blog please dial back a few pages to a post entitled ” Uniform Of The Day” to get up to speed – then carry on. Welcome to the blog. I’m here all week – try the veal.

I must first come to choose the colour of my personal uniform. It is a delicate task. Military uniforms may be chosen for utility…ie camouflage patterns to lessen the number of bullets that pass through the wearer’s body – or ceremonial… colour to hearken back to the days of whatever empire used to be. They may be drab and dull to disguise dirt. One thing – the colour will be chosen so as to be the least expensive – when you have to buy the clothes for a large number of people you try to buy the cheap stuff. Hence the red uniforms of imperial Britain or the white uniforms of royal France.

Civilian colour is not restricted to these simple hues – if there is only one person to cover they can be covered with good stuff. The choice of a bright colour might seem a good one if you are naturally inclined that way, but remember that it can mark you out to be a guy in the street. It may impair the dignity. Anyone who has seen an elderly man in a light blue leisure suit will know what I mean.

If a duller colour is wiser, consider that you may still be laying yourself open to censure if it looks too much like military dress. We’ve all worn an old duffle coat or pea jacket at some stage of the game and you can get away with it most times. But refine the duffel to a frock or the pea jacket to a blue blazer with brass buttons and you start to suggest theatrical oddities or retired Englishmen at sailing clubs. And haven’t we all longed at some time or other to sail a club at the head of a retired Englishman…

Can you wear grey as a matter of course? Yes, you can. A grey suit is quite unremarkable, and depending upon the cut can be elegant or sturdy. Grey trousers and shirt are also very serviceable. It is a Germanic military colour but as long as one avoids the excesses of epaulettes or braiding it can look normal. A lighter grey shirt and darker grey trousers could make a sensible combination – the reverse toning looks odd. Grey fatigue dress would hide most stains.

Khaki? Good idea, but again you would have to avoid the excessive use of military reference in the cut or accessories. Darker khaki trousers would be suitable for most work situations and suitable short jackets and coats are a standard in the shops. A tough colour choice for a dress suit as this sort of light shade is really only seen militarily or upon Mississippi political bosses.

Blue? I should avoid the darker shades, except in trousering. Blue formal coats are going to be challenging. Light blue even more so. A pity, as it is a calming shade, except when others see it.

Burgundy? Only in shirting and then only if you are in the “Olive Oil Importing” business…

Green? Dark enough, dull enough, surprisingly yes. Combined with the dark grey, you could make it work in many civilian instances.You could combine it with black in many cases.

Brown? Same as green. Dark, quiet. Combine it with grey or khaki and it could very well work. Too close to black.

Yellow? Shirting for fatigues but even there too flighty except in the darkest mustard tones.

Orange? Ditto.

Purple? Unless you are the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, no. Not even if you are naturally purple yourself. Leave purple to the re-enactors who wish to portray Roman senators.

Black? Yes, but it carries such Gothic/Victorian associations. You would be constantly explaining yourself. And a black shirt attracts some awful questions.

Astute planners may see in this a need to combine hues and shades. A dark grey formal suit – Khaki/green daywear – white summer shorts and shirts. The combination can be shifted about for variety, but the basic uniform components remain the same. You can buy in multiples and no-one ever need know when you have worn one piece out as there is another ready to stand in directly.



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