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New ways to wear navy

New ways to wear navy

Navy is the default colour for the modern man. That's understandable, considering how hard it works. It’s a colour that acts like a neutral, because there’s next to nothing it clashes with. It’s always appropriate and flattering against any complexion. “It’s not too sombre,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing, “so it’s good for smart clothing but also great with denim, for a casual option that doesn’t require much thought.”

But that lack of thought can quickly end up as thoughtlessness. Lean too heavily on navy as a failsafe and it starts to feel stale. “It won’t turn heads,” says Toby, “in either a good or a bad way.” But there are ways to exploit navy’s timelessness and inject some sparkle. Here’s how to make a classic feel brand new.

Get some texture in your navy

Photographed: Orlebar Brown Travis towelling shirt (£175)Fred Perry stone classic twill trousers (£90)Grenson navy Hi Top mens sneakers (£95)

Block colours like navy can sometimes feel a little flat, especially if you’re wearing the same colour and the same fabric. But you can keep things monochrome if you mix up your materials. “A fabric that has some natural texture is brilliant for adding depth because of the way it catches and reflects the light,” says Toby. Shirts and jumpers are the easiest way to do this because a different fabric feels normal and it makes a feature of that item. “It gives your outfit a bit of tactility, which just elevates it.”

Use navy as an anchor

Photographed: Samsoe & Samsoe Liam linen shirt (£79.99)MVP Ashfield t-shirt (£14)Sunspel drawstring trousers (£145)

Pair brights with true neutrals, like black or grey, and the colour can overwhelm your outfit. But because navy is a shade of blue, it also balances out bold shades because there’s colour elsewhere. “It allows the bright to shine by framing it,” says Toby. With navy as an anchor, you can experiment with shades you wouldn’t normally reach for. “The navy makes the bold colours more wearable and the bold colours make the navy more interesting. The combination makes both shine.”

Patterns come in navy too

Photographed: Universal Works short-sleeved road shirt (£89)Norse Projects Aros shorts (£80); Marks and Spencers trainers (£39.50)

Playing with patterns will give your navy clothes a completely different feel, even if you haven’t actually strayed from your usual style. “Pattern draws the eye and creates a point of interest that a block colour can’t,” says Toby. Since navy’s safe, it makes patterns more accessible, even if you tend to avoid anything busy. “You can have a loud pattern but the navy makes it more wearable. If you’re unsure, keep everything else simple too. Let the pattern stand out.”


Words: Nadia Balame-Price