Frock Advisor

How to work colour into your warbrobe and the must have masculine man bags

(R-L) Givenchy grained leather backpack, €988, Harvey Nichols. Lemon rubber Bon Bon cuff, €145, Melissa Curry at Arnotts. Navy and black coast by Alexander Wang €1,920, Garvan de Bruir Laptop bag, €310, The Design Mews, Monasterevin Road, Kildare.

(R-L) Givenchy grained leather backpack, €988, Harvey Nichols. Lemon rubber Bon Bon cuff, €145, Melissa Curry at Arnotts. Navy and black coast by Alexander Wang €1,920, Garvan de Bruir Laptop bag, €310, The Design Mews, Monasterevin Road, Kildare.

Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 00:00

I buy colour, I really do, but it sits ignored in the wardrobe as I return defeated to the tyranny of black. What am I doing wrong?

Let us presume that you are house-proud. Your sitting room (or lounge) is a symphony of light-play, comfort and tonal co-ordination. You agonised for weeks over the perfect shade of Farrow & Ball to work with your existing furniture, only to realise that Colortrend has a colour that’s so close that details are unnecessary.

With your base tones confirmed, you carefully built your accent colour around the couches (or sofas) and organised the grand opening, an extravagant social event for friends and family, wrapped around your creative triumph.

And yet, with all this knowledge and capacity for strategic thinking, you expect your long-suffering wardrobe to magically proffer solutions with a pick-and-mix approach. It doesn’t work that way and you know it.

So how do we apply what we know to our wardrobes and save ourselves from the blackest path of least resistance?

The first thing to consider is the furniture. What colour tone is going to represent the hard-working spine of your wardrobe?

We’re talking about the dark neutrals.

Black is the obvious one but not the only choice. Navy (French), grey (British) and brown (Nunnish) are all alternatives, but deep aubergines, teals and olive greens are also to be considered. What we’re talking about here is a carrier colour.

This is the investment piece. It’s the tailoring, the dresses and the coats, like this magnificent navy and black coat by Alexander Wang. At €1,920 it is for the front row set only but the concept of the contrast tone has landed firmly all the way down the fashion chains.

The next piece of the puzzle is the walls. How do you complement the furniture, adding light and warmth? Why, with your light neutrals of course!

The most basic light and dark neutral combination is black and white, which is fabulously effective and enduringly chic when deployed sparingly.

When overused, however, it becomes a hackneyed lowest common denominator, which doesn’t sound like a good look to us.

Light neutral could be oyster through to mink, ivory through to sand, ice through to dusty pink. You get the idea.

These are your tops, shirts and knits, a natural contrast point for your core pieces. Simone Rocha’s baby pink shirt, €470 from is a perfect case in point.

The secret is that when you wear these pale colours close to the face, they act as a natural reflector, throwing you into a soft illuminated glow and creating a slow-motion effect on your physicality. Well, nearly.

Once those basic elements are in place, let the fun begin. The accent, or punctuation in your wardrobe comes from colour, pattern, texture and accessories. This is where we dip our toes into pops of trend and madness, because they are items in our wardrobe that are less significant, and are easier to rest.

It’s always easier to swap out a cushion than a couch.


My technology is too big for my trousers. Does carrying a man bag dent my masculinity?

We wouldn’t comment on the fortitude of your masculinity, although we would caution that compulsively collecting technological devices has been linked with deep male insecurity.

The man bag has become more than accepted; it’s now expected of any contemporary urban male.

Whether you carry a Moleskin notebook, an iPad or both, the interruption they place on the line of the trousers is simply unacceptable.

Quite often, your choice of bag comes down to your mode of transport. What works on the front passenger seat of an Audi, may very well be out of place on a bike.

There is something wonderful about finely crafted leather goods and Garvan de Bruir’s laptop bag, is a perfect example.

Of course if you need the functionality of a full-scale rucksack without any loss of luxury, Givenchy has created a highly male luxury solution to ensure your manhood, style and practicality are completely aligned.

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