A road map for the modern man: The art of dressing for your complexion

Philippe Perzi Vienna

There are enough rules in this world that we’re obligated to follow without adding an arbitrary set of guidelines to how we should dress. However, once you know the basic principles of colour, proportion and pattern, your life will be that much easier and your wardrobe that much more enduringly stylish on the path to sartorial fulfilment. Colour probably influences a first impression more than any other aspect of attire – and unlike women who have cosmetics to invigorate and highlight their complexion, a man needs to know how to wear colour in order to enhance his expression and visage. The idea is to draw people’s attention to your face, not to be overshadowed by your outfit.

First things first, to master the art of dressing for your complexion, you may wish to familiarise yourself with the colour wheel. In the below illustration from left to right, examples of complementary, analogous and triadic colours.


dressing for your complexion

With that in mind, here is Philippe Perzi Vienna’s road map designed to aid the modern gent master the art of dressing well, without getting perilously lost along the way.

High contrast complexion

dressing for your complexion

These are men with dark (black) hair and fair skin. Think John Hamm, Zac Effron types. Interestingly, men of African descent are also included in this category – they are the exception to the rule. The ‘rules’ are that you should wear clothing that mimics the colour difference between your skin tone and hair colour. Choosing complementary colours from the colour wheel will provide the greatest contrast or you can also try triadic colours when combining multiple items, such as a shirt, tie, jacket and pocket square. Needless to say, the most classic and enduringly stylish high contrast combination is black and white.

Low contrast complexion

dressing for your complexion

If you’re a man with blonde, white, or red hair and fair skin, then this is you. Ryan Gosling, John Slattery and Simon Baker are typical examples. To make sure you aren’t overpowered by your outfit, you should wear analogous colours or varying shades (degrees of lightness) of the same colour on the colour wheel. Again, mimicking the colour difference between your skin tone and hair colour is key. Opting for warmer, softer shades and neutrals or pastels will ensure the viewers eye is drawn towards your face and not your torso.

Medium contrast complexion

dressing for your complexion

Men who fall into this category have the most latitude when it comes to wearing colour. If you’re tanned or have brown skin and dark hair, then your next clue as to what colours you should wear is determined by your eye colour – try to wear a colour that complements and highlights your eye colour. Even though medium contrast men have feet in both camps, they will find that they will lean towards either the low or high contrast end of the spectrum. Triadic colours are a good choice to wear, but the key is to avoid extremes. Eg complementary colours in very bright shades will offer too much contrast, however muted analogous colours is similar shades of brightness may make you look too washed out.

Remember: Rules were meant to be broken and there’s always exceptions to every one of the above mentioned guidelines. The key is confidence and comfort in your clothes, as they really are a second skin. Philippe Perzi Vienna’s signature shirt, tie and pocket square collection offers all men a wide range of options – from your ‘safe’ blues and whites to more eye-catching hues. Start shopping now!