E.J. Topper’s “Colorful Thoughts” – Blue
Some of Topper’s favorite memories of the Apollo space program are those unforgettable images of the Earth seen from space. “So beautiful”, he muses, “and so blue”. Quite reasonably, we feel, Topper’s position on blue is that if it’s good enough for Mother Earth, then it’s plenty good enough for even the most demanding man of fashion.
“The blue color palette is supremely versatile and need never be restricted to once in a blue moon, even if you happen to be observing from the moon,” quips Topper. Blue hues are suitable for almost every conceivable occasion: a wedding, a casual walk in the park – even a day at the office. And though fundamentally subtle, blue adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit.
Most of us probably have at least a few blue items in our wardrobes. But for those who typically stick to the same shades every time, follow Topper’s advice and branch out to new and exciting tones that are appropriate for many different places and spaces.
How To Wear Blue Hues To...
Topper’s view is that, while we should be careful to observe workplace dress codes, we shouldn’t be afraid to bring a little sartorial sass into the office. As ever, all we need to succeed is some thought. As Topper so memorably puts it: “Being individual isn’t about being irritating. Whether you work on the 60th floor of a signature tower or a start-up in an upcoming district, you can be resourceful with how you work blue into professional outfits without offending human resources.”
“For instance, you may be able to get away with a pastel blazer or a true-blue plaid shirt without a second look. Or stricter dress codes may not allow for quite so much self-expression,” Topper observes. “However, a fitted navy blue suit or blazer stands out too, raising profiles without raising eyebrows.”
Weddings can, understatement, be a little tricky to plan for. In some cases, the level of formality is difficult to determine – for example if the invitation does not explicitly advise a dress code. Topper suggests that, when attending nuptials, we should be aware of the wedding colors and the time of the ceremony. Always try to get a pre-nup from your host that lays out their planned color palette, so that you can avoid any unfortunate clashes. After all, a standout wedding guest is rarely one who also sticks out like a sore thumb, his outfit clashing with the bride’s in every photograph. You most definitely don’t want to look like “something blue”, still worse appear in “something borrowed”. So preparation will avoid wedding blue notes.
Timing, Topper notes wryly, is also crucial for every Big Day: “Typically, an evening ceremony is more formal than one held in the daytime, so plan your outfit accordingly. If dancing is planned long into the night don’t be afraid of formal wear, even if the ceremony starts mid-afternoon.”
Topper says: “On date night, keeping it classy is of the utmost importance, so avoid bold colors like neon or pastel blue at all costs. First impressions count. Don’t get it wrong and spend your evening counting the cost of a wardrobe snafu.”
Instead, opt for classic neutrals and darker hues. A navy blue blazer shows off a sophisticated sense of style – and gives a subtle hint to your date that you have an adventurous side. Topper also reminds us: “Don’t underestimate the power of accessories. A navy bow tie or a dark blue fedora can put finishing touches of real finesse to an outfit. And, rest assured, those touches won’t go unnoticed by your companion.”
The beach is a location where you can really go all-out with bold colors, especially those neons and pastel blues you wouldn’t consider for sophisticated evening wear. Topper says: “Swim trunks and board shorts are obvious choices for beachwear, but you can still look your best in and out of the water. Getting wet doesn’t mean we have to dampen our sense of style.”
Topper explains it best: “Pastel is back in style, and there’s no better place to work it than the beach. Other beach-appropriate blues can be worn as tank tops or V-neck T-shirts, along with accessories including fedoras and sunglasses. In well chosen colors and cuts life really is a beach.”
Blue Jeans, Baby
Don’t be tempted to assume that a sartorial savior like Topper is automatically going to diss denim. One of the most underrated piece of fashionable clothing, in Topper’s opinion, is in fact blue jeans. As with any other wardrobe item, cut and quality are paramount. But, in the style potential of jeans, Topper is a true blue believer: “Blue jeans are extremely versatile because they can be as formal or casual as you make them.”
“Dark blue jeans are arguably the easiest to dress up, especially if you wear them with a navy blazer and tan dress shoes – maybe even throw a bow tie in with the ensemble as a playful mix of formal and casual,” says Topper. “And a rather more casual outfit might include medium-wash jeans with a blue plaid shirt and sneakers (not to be confused with tennis shoes, the great man emphasizes ). If your style is more laid-back, you can make a pair of distressed jeans and a T-shirt look sophisticated with a cardigan, blazer and accessories such as a watch or hat.”
Jeans and Jeanotypes
The cuts we once wore, as the hunks of yesteryear, may not entirely flatter our frame as it is today. As we mature, our genes do not always make wearing the jeans we think we want the wisest call. Topper suggests that we remain conscious at all times of our actual body types when selecting jeans. The reality is that different styles complement different people. What follows are “Topper’s Jeanotyping Tips” - handy insights into which jeans look best on various real world body types.
“Topper’s Jeanotyping Tips”
- Tall And Skinny: Straight-leg and skinny jeans flatter the more slender leg – as long as the fit isn’t too tight. (As Topper quips: “Jeans were first designed for rugged types roping calves and not for making their own calves bulge out.”)
- Short And Stocky: Boot-cut and straight-leg jeans are best at elongating stocky frames. (Topper’s view: “Dismounted, you don’t want your jeans to make your legs look like they’re still clamped around the flanks of your mustang.”)
- Athletic: Skinny jeans make muscular figures look bulky, so choose straight-leg jeans that accentuate athletic frames. (Topper’s top tip: “Man of action, yes. Popeye, no.”)
- Heavyset: A relaxed fit and wide leg flatter heavyset figures, but avoid wearing flared or skinny jeans, as they make you look top-heavy. (Topper’s top tip: “Torso solo as a look is, at best, so-so.”)
Above all, counsels Topper, be led by comfort and common sense: “These are merely guidelines to help you find the best fit for your body. Don’t feel like you’re limited to just one or two types of jeans,” says Topper.
Stay True To Blue
While blue is one of the easiest colors to work with, we could all use some guidance when branching out to new shades or styles. Topper suggests incorporating new blue hues slowly, by wearing them as accessories or just trying one new shade at a time.
“We all have to start somewhere, so even if you experience a fashion faux pas or two, learn from your mistakes and try again,” Topper explains. “With enough practice, you’ll know the subtle difference between teal and cerulean, as well as the new dimensions they can bring to your outfit.”
Get more of Topper's advice on any of the color palettes here: