Q&A: Why would I ever need a suede brush?
A guide to smartening up suede
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Contrast is one of the most important elements of great style. An outfit in which every item is the same colour or pattern starts to looks less like a choice and more like a uniform. But a lot of men are understandably wary of wearing anything too jazzy. Anything bright or busy can be tough to pull off; the risk of getting it wrong can seem to outweigh the benefits of getting it right.
Which is why texture is such an important part of any man’s wardrobe. “It’s a confusing term, but a really powerful thing if you get it right,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “‘Texture’ is an umbrella term for how a garment feels. It has a roughness, it’s not smooth. Materials like wool and suede have great texture, whereas the cotton of a t-shirt doesn’t.” Think of it as the visual effect of items that your fingers want to touch – the way that the light catches the ridges and furrows gives the fabric depth. It seems three-dimensional, rather than flat, which makes your entire outfit feel more interesting.
“Best of all, it’s really easy to wear,” says Freddie. Unlike colour and pattern, where it’s all too easy to slip from ‘touch of flair’ to ‘children’s entertainer’, more is more with texture. “You can’t really have too much, but the opposite is also true – if you have none, then your outfit can look flat. It will be very clean and minimal, but that can often end up as dull.” The best thing about texture is there are no rules, but these three tips will help you wear it like an expert.
Remember what we said about contrast? “Wearing all one texture can look as dull as wearing none,” says Freddie. “So try different fabrics in the same outfit.” A knitted jumper looks great with a tweed blazer, or try suede shoes with wool trousers.
If your wardrobe is big on black, navy and grey, then texture should be your best friend. “You can wear all one colour, but texture will stop it seeming boring,” says Freddie. A soft, knitted rollneck contrasts with the roughness of denim, even if they’re both black.
Fabrics like silk catch the light, and therefore the eye, so it’s good to have some textured pieces to ground them. “Keep flatter fabrics for accessories, rather than tailoring,” says Freddie. “Texture can take the sheen away and make a suit or blazer feel much richer.”