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A man’s relationship to his flag is, currently, a minefield. Shun it and you’re accused of a lack of national pride. Embrace it too fulsomely and, well, the less said about that, the better. We’re certainly not qualified to pick apart the politics of nationhood – especially when they’re as fraught as they are right now – but we are adept at finding sartorial inspiration in the unlikeliest of places. Which is why we say, no matter your political stance, you can benefit from dressing in red, white, and blue.

You see, flag designers aren’t mugs. They know that the key to a harmonious flag, even if not a harmonious nation, is balance. That’s especially true when it comes to colour, which is why you don’t see many violet and chartreuse ensigns fluttering outside the United Nations. Red, white, and blue are a holy trinity of tones, hence the array of nations that have chosen them as their colours (28 in total, including Britain, America, France, Norway, Chile and North Korea).

You see, a great flag needs to be aesthetically pleasing and easily identifiable, even at a distance, which is why they tend towards colours that contrast without clashing. Red and blue are what’s known as triadic – on a colour wheel, they’re one-third of the circle away from each other. According to colour theory, this makes them different enough to be distinctive, but similar enough to be complementary. (The third part of that triad is yellow – you’ll find the full set in the flags of Romania, Chad, Colombia, among others.)

Now, we’re certainly not recommending actually wearing a flag, or indeed anything flag-themed. That way, trouble lies, aesthetically and politically. But you can use them as a crib sheet for clothing colour combinations. After all, if it works up a flagpole, odds are it will in your wardrobe, too. Here, for example, the deep red of the jacket transforms a navy-and-white look into a subtle statement that you can wear all autumn. If red’s not your colour, then you could pull the same trick with a muted yellow, and come over all Uruguayan.

Words: Tom Banham
Photography: Andras Hari
Styling: Brooke Philips
Styling assistant: Luke McDonald