E.J. Topper’s “Colorful Thoughts” – Orange
Topper is not a man to scare easily. But even for a fearless fellow of high fashion, mere mention of the color orange can cause the complexion to turn a little green. As Topper himself says: “There’s a difference between adding a little color to an ensemble and looking like a fruit platter that just grew legs. Even for the instinctive expert, orange can be a difficult color to work with. Handle it carefully. Make sure you pair it with complementary colors and styles. Avoid the clash of orange with lime green or chocolate. There is a real chance you could be mistaken for a bonbon! A little orange can go a long, very long, way.”
So what’s the juice on wearing orange? Here are Topper’s Tips …
Topper says, from now on give the red light to orange fashion faux pas. And if you have ever overdone the orange, simply peel it off and start again, learning from your mistakes. The bottom line with orange is coordination. Acquire it. Apply it. And your embracing of orange can only blossom!
Classic Orange Error #1 – “Orange Overload”
Some colors bear repeating, through layers and subtle variations in tone. Orange is not one of them.
The solution: keep an “Orange Counter” in your closet and always remember the “rule of one” when it comes to orange (actually, it’s the same rule for most brightly colored garments). One orange garment good. Two not good. Three or more, really, really bad. Or, to put it a different way, one orange item, say a necktie or pullover, makes a statement. Two orange items shout. Three will hog the whole sartorial conversation and leave the wearer in a corner, talking to himself.
Classic Orange Error #2 – “The Mixed Fruit Platter”
Topper says pairing orange pants with bright red socks can only end badly. You’ll have a clashing ensemble and – more than likely – public embarrassment as your outfit goes far beyond far out.
The solution: “The Center of Attention.” If orange is the main feature, the supporting acts should stick to neutral colors like black, white, tan and gray to be safe. Topper gets a little technical here; saying blue is also a good match as it's positioned directly across from orange on the color wheel, making it the “complementary” color. However, not all shades of blue work with all orange shades, so keep that in mind while shopping and avoid “the orange blues”.
Classic Orange Error #3 – “Accessory Amnesia”
Even the best-coordinated ensemble dives from on-trend to tacky if the accessories don't complement the outfit (or each other). This is especially true when working with a bold color like orange.
The solution: “The North-South Divide.” If you're attempting to wear multiple orange accessories, (and Topper does not advise this) try to match them as closely as possible and wear them at opposite ends of your body. For example, an orange watch strap can be worn with orange socks and any difference in exact color won't be too noticeable. In general however, if you're wearing an orange garment, avoid wearing orange accessories. Instead, go for gold or brown for a warm and vibrant look, or black, navy or silver for understated cool.
Be Like Topper - Subtle Yet Adventurous
Topper says: “If you're new to incorporating bold colors into your wardrobe, it's best to start slow by adding smaller orange accessories to everyday outfits”.
Here are some accessories that can add a subtle pop of color without exploding your outfit:
- Tie or bow tie
- Pocket square
Try wearing one of these orange accessories with neutral casual or even formal wear to see how this lively color adds life to an outfit, without overloading or obliterating it.
Now You’re Ready to Move (Slowly and Carefully) out of Neutral
Topper says: “When you're ready to advance to next-level color coordination, try switching out a neutral clothing item with a bright orange piece. For instance, an orange dress shirt paired with a navy or tan suit can make you stand out (for the right reasons) amongst a sea of white and black. A pair of orange dress shoes or tennis shoes goes well with a black suit or dressed-up jeans and a button-up shirt.
Orange – But Just a Twist
Topper says: “You don't have to go full-orange to make a statement. An orange- and gray-striped sweater or cardigan, for example, is perfect for showing off a little bit of color without going overboard. Color is a conversation, not a shouting contest”.
Bold Yet Sophisticated (Always)
After you've mastered the art of subtle accessorizing, it's time to look for bigger and bolder orange clothing items to show off your newfound confidence and carefully controlled fashion sense. Here are some top tips from Topper for making a bold yet balanced statement:
- Wear an orange coat or jacket over a blue button-up shirt and black dress pants. Add matching orange shoes to pull the look together. (Trust Topper, he knows this works, even if it does sound a little like Orange Overload!)
- Pair orange dress pants with a white or black casual button-up shirt. A pair of orange shorts is an even bolder option.
- An orange v-neck sweater worn with blue jeans and dress shoes results in a casual yet smartly stylish look. Wear it over a button-up shirt and dress pants for a formal occasion.
Become “Authoritative in Orange”
Topper says: “Color can take us out of our comfort zone. But exploration is exciting, as long as you have a good map. Take small first steps and pause to savor the effect. Then work your way up to bolder statement pieces. It all makes incorporating orange into your wardrobe an easier – and less risky – transition. Don’t be afraid of the world of vibrant color. Open up to orange!”
Get more of Topper's advice on any of the color pallets here: