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Ask the "Style Doc" . when I'm wearing Navy, does "khaki" rhyme with "tacky"

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
Hey, got another question ...

Whenever I see someone suggesting light brown (i.e. khakis) with navy blue (i.e. a sportcoat or blazer) all I can think is... yuck! Is this one of those love it or hate it things, a generational thing, or am I just a lunatic? Is this a look for a young man, old man, or any man? What does B&B say?
I have a friend who bugs me about my appearance from time to time. Like, when I wear brown or tan shoes with gray pants. Or whenever I generally mix browns and blues.

I think he's nuts.

But otherwise he's a great guy, so it's okay.

Personally, I've always found a navy sportscoat (or blazer ... but of course we can discuss buttons elsewhere ...) to be one of the most highly versatile pieces of clothing in a gentleman's wardrobe ... you can wear it with just about anything.



I was shocked to see how many wedding parties adopted the theme ...





But hey, whatever float's the bride's boat, right?

(Say it with me, guys, ... "yes, dear, I'll wear that." Remember, her mission is to get forty-seven thousand infinitesimal details exactly correct; your mission is to get a ring on her finger and off to the wedding night.)

Anyhoo ...

I think that the darker the brown in the pants, the harder the look is to pull off.





... mind you, navy and brown can make for a very striking necktie, either solid brown tie with a navy suit, or navy & brown together in the tie.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I almost never disagree with Henry, and his qualifier, "if you choose your hues well," may mean we in fact do agree, but I would consider anything that could be considered khaki--and I would say that khaki actually ranges from a very gray tan (very gray taupe) to tan to something that is more truly a light brown--to be an absolutely classic combination with a navy or dark blue blazer, and, thus, I suppose, conditionally, anything dark blue. Although I do not think I am advocating a dark blue oxford shirt with a tie and khakis or anything like that, and almost any color of so called polo shirt probably works with khakis.

However, I think I feel pretty strongly that actual dark brown slacks should never, ever be worn with a navy blazer. Maybe there is some variation on dark brown that includes a lot of gray or something that could pass, really, to me, a pure dark brown, I just cannot imagine! Like many things this may have something to do with some traditional pairing or something, but I was told early on this is a big no and it looks completely off to me.

A dark brown sports coat with navy slacks seems less problematic to me, except I am not sure a pure dark brown sports coat is common and I do not know that I like the concept.

Now a light blue oxford shirt with dark brown slacks, sure. Absolutely fine pairing.

A light blue sports coat with light or maybe even medium brown slacks could work.

<I have a friend who bugs me about my appearance from time to time. Like, when I wear brown or tan shoes with gray pants.>

The whole thing of black shoes versus brown, tan, and even oxblood shoes with various colors of slacks or suits is frequently discussed. I once had strong feelings, that at least for business wear, black or oxblood shoes should be worn with navy slacks and suits, but I have changed my mind as to what is traditional, appropriate, whatever, and have come to think that in the US anyway, brown or even tan shoes are perfectly acceptable/appropriate and have been for a century or more. In Boston in some circles apparently only brown shoes with a navy suit are considered appropriate.

However, even though I may have overall thought that only black or oxblood shoes should be preferred for business wear--and, say, brown suits not being worn at all--I do not think I ever thought if brown shoes were okay in general they were not okay with gray slacks or a gray suit! Tan seems fine to me, too. Some might argue that tan is inherently too informal, but I think that color drawings from way back, show that tan shoes were considered proper business/more formalish wear.

If brown shoes are okay with navy, I sure do not see what they would not be with gray! To my eye, brown shoes go with gray much better than brown shoes go with navy. Tan seems more whimsical somehow with either, but I think less controversial with gray than with navy!

And I almost never disagree with D4, but I cannot conjure up in my minds eye a solid brown tie with a navy suit much less a navy sports coat that would look right to me. I have I do not think I have every seen a navy and dark brown tie that looked great to me either, but I admit that my imagination may not be sufficient there. That might be possible. The problem I suppose in my mind's eye is not the freestanding tie so much as what colors of other clothing would one wear it with. Maybe with a tan/taupe suit? Maybe a gary suit would work. I may be wrong. For some reason I see no problem with brown shoes with gray so why would brown silk be a problem? <g>

Note that as to the last two photos in D4s post that on the left the slacks are not a pure dark brown, but really a dark taupe, which may be okay with navy. But what is going on with that guy anyway? So sorry if I am insulting anyone in the photo!!!!!!!!, but is he wearing Topsiders with socks with a suit coat and vest over a rather formal cut away collar shirt with tie? The slacks are too long. I cannot tell what the fabric the sports coat is, but if it is wool and not something like silk, linen, or cotton, it looks like he is wearing the top part of a suit, not a sports coat. Although, I suppose the buttons are white, which seems non-suit like. I find the entire look confusing.

As to the guy on the right, that sports coat is a long way from navy or dark blue, and those may on color grounds work with the dark blue trousers, except the trousers are cords, so a fall or winter weight, and the color of the sports coat verges on being a spring/summer color, although it might appear more cool weather in person. He is wearing a black belt with brown trousers, which does not look optimal to me.

Again, I hope I am not insulting anyone in particular!!!!! Hard to tell from photos and I am an advocate of "breaking rules" when it strikes one's fancy. I am guessing that any bar on mixing navy and dark brown in more a tradition than anything having to do with what colors would naturally look good together to someone who had never experienced western style jackets and slacks before!

I should have shut up long before now, I can tell!
 

jakespoppy

Moderator Emeritus
This is an interesting topic, and the pictures that Ian has posted are very helpful to convey the different "looks" that we can consider in this specific area of style. I have to be careful with style in general, as I have a tendency to look at style with my personal biases as a basis for judging what works and what doesn't work. The last two pictures above remind me of most of the "looks" I see in men's style magazines that I can't relate to as something I would wear. Actually, to be completely honest, I wouldn't wear exactly what any of the guys in the pictures are wearing. The closest I would come would be the guys in the 3rd picture, but I would wear socks.

My preferred look would be very traditional looking starched pressed khakis with a crisp crease, a navy blazer with brass buttons, white or blue oxford cloth shirt, and from among several preppy-looking choices for a tie. Dress loafers, black brown or tan, with socks to match the khakis and belt to match the shoes. But just as the "looks" in the pics above seem to have varying degrees of a "high fashion" look to me, what I've described as my preferred look also says "college prep" to me, and I am far past being mistaken for a college student.

So I don't try so much to think of what looks "right" or doesn't, or what "works" or doesn't, and try instead to think more in terms of what works for me based on my image of myself and the "look" I want to project. So for me, looking at lots of pictures like these and trying to understand the context of the "looks" helps me determine what I want to wear. I hope this doesn't sound like a "whatever works for you" perspective, but I see so many pictures like those above and think "that wouldn't work for me, but someone thinks it works so it must for them." So I try to consider why something will work or not for me.
 
To the OP question: Yes, you are a lunatic - thank goodness you are in a safe environment and amongst good company

The khaki trousers and navy blazer/sportscoat combo isnt just correct, it is iconic. The first three pictures are all good looks (although I dont know that I would do a blue tie as shown in picture #2) .

The latter two pictures are much more "fashion". The regatta stripe jacket over taupe trousers and boat shoes seems contrived and the gent with the bright blue jacket over brown cords is just too GQ to ever been seen in real life. These arent looks that you are likely to encounter outside a small section of NYC, so I consider them irrelevant.

Finally, the brown toned shoes with navy or charcoal trousers/suits....I do this quite often. Matter of fact, I almost always wear brown, walnut or chili colored shoes with my navy trousers and shun black shoes unless I am gong to be out in the evening (I am pretty sure that social convention has gone by as well, but I cant shake it). The charcoal trousers will get walnut or chili -never the straight brown colored shoes.

The caveat to all of this is how I think I look is in no way linked to public perception; in my mind "I am gorgeous!". The rest of the world sees a man approaching middle age (rapidly), more overweight than he would like to admit and whose clothing style is that of a mid-60s preppy
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
And I almost never disagree with D4, but I cannot conjure up in my minds eye a solid brown tie with a navy suit much less a navy sports coat that would look right to me. I have I do not think I have every seen a navy and dark brown tie that looked great to me either, but I admit that my imagination may not be sufficient there. That might be possible.
Sorry for the big pictures below ... don't take it as photographic "all caps", please.

 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
As for brown & blue combo ties ...



... that's the sort of thing I had in mind.

At least, that's what a cursory search on Google Images could get me, and yes I did have to sift out some dreck and a few anime tarts. I seem to always get anime tarts on google images searches. Oh well, I'l survive.
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Well, maybe I am being too pedantic. But I would still be very careful with pure dark grays and navy as a color combination.

The following are simply my impressions, based on my tastes, which in turn are based on who knows what! Light blues with even pure dark browns seem to pretty consistently work. Medium blues, particularly, medium blues that seem sort of an electric blue seem to work with less than really dark browns, especially if those browns are something of a summer weight. Navy and dark brown can certainly work in a pattern with other colors in the pattern, such as a plaid.

If a brown is really a gray brown, a dark taupe, it starts to work with navy. The more gray and the more tan rather than brown the more likely it will work.

I frankly do not really like either suit and tie combination. The window pane does not look like that dark a blue and the tie seems to have a lot of gray in the brown. Is the other suit a herring bone? The tie looks summer weight and it is difficult to tell how dark or heavy the suit it. Not sure it works for a number of reasons for me.

The only tie I have any trouble with is the fourth tie over in the second row. I like most of the first and third rows a lot.

But what do I know!
 
I really like the schoolboy, preppy, "New England" style of having navy blazer with beige/khaki/natural white trousers. To me, it's about being casual with a sense of style, as I think full seersucker suits or linen suits are just a bit too dapper - and make me feel as I'm in some historical "gentlemanly" live action role play.

As for the style itself, I prefer plain navy blazers and khaki trousers. Not corduroys or other big textures in pants and/or in the blazer itself. Just basic wool and cotton fabrics will make my summer a comfortable one.

Just got myself a new Michael Kors blazer during the weekend, actually (navy, silver buttons - picture isn't that great):



But regarding the original poster's - or his friend's - note on this style... he's somewhat right, this is an old school style, thus it needs some fitting clothes and a pinch of self-confidence to pull it through. For twenty and early-thirtysomethings hearing an "old man" comment should be taken as a compliment.
 
Here's a pretty good example of the look I was trying to describe.

$jfksummer.jpg

You might know the model from such hit TV series as...

Edit: Just noticed - check out JFK's buttons! :001_huh:
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
I've always considering wearing khaki pants with a blue sport coat or blazer as playing it safe, or trying to be preppy. Though I think the combo does look better with grey-ish tone pants. This school approves - Gentlemen Dress Uniform: 3rd – 12th grades:
Good point. One of the reasons a blazer and khakis looks absolutely "correct" to me, and I assume others, is that this is an absolutely tradtional, if not quite "universal," prep school "uniform." Gray wool slacks fit here, too, but I think khaki is a more practical item to wear and maintain day to day. Gray wool is dressier.

I think what "looks" good and what does not, and what seems correct and what does not--there must be a better word than "correct," pardon me for not figuring out what that word is--comes mostly from what we are used to seeing, what seems "conventional," or "common." I doubt it has much to do with what colors would look good together to a newborn!

If navy shirts and solid dark brown ties were the traditional garb of news anchor men or, say, some elite group of Americans, for who knows what reason, I am sure that shirt and tie combination would look perfectly good to me and would in fact bring up favorable feelings or feelings along the lines of "what could possibly look more appropriate together?"
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
If navy shirts and solid dark brown ties were the traditional garb of news anchor men or, say, some elite group of Americans, for who knows what reason, I am sure that shirt and tie combination would look perfectly good to me and would in fact bring up favorable feelings or feelings along the lines of "what could possibly look more appropriate together?"


"Excellent point, sir, excellent point."
 


I was shocked to see how many wedding parties adopted the theme ...



Guy #1 ... well dressed, although I think I like it only because the navy is an overcoat. He's still wearing a matching suit underneath.
Guy #2 ... clown.
Guy #3 ... I can imagine this being considered stylish in certain circles, although not any circles that I would want to participate in. The shinyness in the blue and dark brown seem to work.


Wedding Groups: See, I think this is a really silly look. It's like they all started to put on a nice suit and then suddenly changed their minds halfway through getting dressed. The guys with no socks only exacerbate this impression - like they were just completely exhausted by the time they got to their feet and just gave up.

Try scrolling the image so that you can only see these guys from the waist up. They all look like natty, well dressed gents in suits, yes? Now scroll the rest of the way down. Isn't that disappointing?
 
I used to wear a navy blazer and khakis with a white shirt and school tie thought high school (it was a prep school). I think it's an ok semi casual look. But in my head it will always be a prep school look
 
A very traditional American look. I think the guy who pulled this off best was Robert Wagner. I linked a photo from the wiki page about the movie A Kiss Before Dying. The photo is not my first choice but it shows how it should look...on young skinny guys. The rest of us make do. Robert Wagner was the American James Bond. I daresay his cool factor put toyboys like James Dean in a narrower light. Anyway, if you can pull them off the web, Wagner had the "look".

Cheers, Todd

 

jakespoppy

Moderator Emeritus
......Try scrolling the image so that you can only see these guys from the waist up. They all look like natty, well dressed gents in suits, yes? Now scroll the rest of the way down. Isn't that disappointing?
That actually works on ALL the pics! :001_cool:
 

The Knize

Moderator Emeritus
Well done with the Anchorman, Doc4!

I really liked the second of the wedding photos and did not think the first was bad. I thought the tie could have used more contrast with the blazers in the first photo. I guess I would say that a solid blue tie does not look great to me with a blue blazer, or for that matter a very subtle tie. A blazer is not a business suit. To me the tie worn with a blazer should be contrasty distinct.

I thought the second photo captured an absolutely classic summer look. Blazer with bright rep tie, khakis with cuffs, Weejuns without socks. One could argue whether that is a formal enough look for a wedding. But, say, for a summer outside wedding, I can't argue with it myself. The regular rather than button down collars bring up the formality a bit, methinks.
 

Doc4

Moderator Emeritus
Try scrolling the image so that you can only see these guys from the waist up. They all look like natty, well dressed gents in suits, yes? Now scroll the rest of the way down. Isn't that disappointing?
Yes, but ...

A blazer is not a business suit.
... a buy looks better (as in "more formal") in a suit. I think you'd have the same reaction regardless of the pants below the blazer ...
 
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