I am always writing about keeping things simple, bringing things back into being minimal. I am alway talking and writing about how moving everything down and more minimal is always a good way to ensure your outfit comes across with a sense of seriousness and non-clownishness. That being said, from time to time I move toward the opposite and write about the opposite. Instead of the minimal, the complex and busy.
Some guys would consider what I am wearing normal and not particularly complex. These guys usually are the guys who are super decked out. Personally, I think more often than not, many of these guys look more like dolls and are ultimately too busy with lots going on, for my taste. Some pull it off in an incredible way and they look like they are in a dreamlike PRL ad from 1995 every day. That is awesome, when someone does it well. Yet, most don't pull it off all the way. For me, and my approach, one that is almost always directed more toward the simple, this is an outfit on the more busy side, if only ever so slightly.
We have a Prince of Wales check and a rep tie with hounds. The more simple pairing for this sport coat and shirt would be a simple knit tie. A more complex, yet still more simple would be a motif tie. Or, in this same sort of level, I could do a rep tie. Instead, we have a rep tie with a hound motif. A combination of both. If I wore a university stripe it would bring it to again another level, and if I wore a colorful pocket square (something which I never do) that would bring it into a truly busy place. Adding a colorful, patterned pocket square is something I don't really do with any sport coat and it is something I would certainly never do with this sport coat. As for the university stripe, I could do a blue university stripe, but in my opinion it would still be just too much for 99.9% of most men.
It is a weird thing how adding different patterns and layers of complexity work. In a way if you embrace the busy-ness it helps, but it can also go wrong. In a certain way this tie, which combines both motif and stripes, works better than just a rep or just a motif tie. It is almost like embracing the complexity, the lots going on - it feels more solid and steady in itself. It is almost about totally putting yourself in one camp. Busy or simple, complicated or minimal, colorful and muted etc...
It is a complicated thing and is about vibe and feeling. It is about the sort of mood. It is about all these really hard to theoretically, objectively understand elements. Of course there are ways to predict, without trying, what will work and what will not. But, beyond that, at a more personal level of what style says about you, to you, to others - at a level that is about the sort of presence you bring, it isn't just cold theory. It is alive, it changes and it varies person to person.
Another element of note to this outfit is that although it is a bit more busy and full than many outfits I discuss, it is not necessarily bright. It is all very cool. The Prince of Wales check has a black cool tone with small bits of cream, dark yellow and blue in the check. The plain white OCBD, the tie made up of basic, simple colors. I suppose even in this way, this is still bringing this outfit down, bringing it back in, not jumping off the cliff into spring and summer, adventure and brightness.
There are different outfits for different days, different colors, different approaches. Talking about the cold basics, the simple theory is not so interesting, it can be useful, it is good to know. But, what is more interesting is getting into the stuff of the heart, the mood, the feeling, the presence. Style, clothing is about you, yourself, your life, your story, what face you will present. I always ask myself before I set my outfit for the day - What do I want to say? What do I feel? What is this day about? Ultimately, what and who am I, today?