Match Fit: Coordinating Summer Ensembles
A man must be in charge of his wardrobe and wear what he feels is correct. However, although dressing is an act of self-expression, when a man is attending a summer event with his partner - whether it's a country wedding, the Serpentine Summer Party or a corporate function - some limited coordination is advisable.
As dress codes become increasingly relaxed and open to interpretation, there are more possibilities for clothing clashes than there were in the past. The most glaring error is when both partners aim to be the centre of attention; romantic partners shouldn't seem to be vying for the limelight. This is traditionally one of the virtues of a classic dinner jacket - it presents an elegant backdrop for whatever the woman chooses to wear. There's nothing wrong with more attention-grabbing forms of male dress, but they do require greater levels of coordination with your partner.
The first thing to consider is how the colours you're both wearing sit next to one another. If, for a Mediterranean wedding, you've taken the brave decision to wear a bold pink suit, for example, then it's a good idea to check your other half hasn't decided to wear orange - hope instead for a neutral shade. Pattern is the next consideration, and men in striped or checked suits should think again if their girlfriend is also wearing something with a geometric pattern of a similar scale. At a more subtle level, even a loud shirt could get you into trouble if it clashes with her embellished, colourful dress.
Among heterosexual couples, it seems obvious that the woman sets the precedent, and it's for the man to ensure he's wearing nothing that detracts from her outfit. It's more complicated to consider how two gentlemen should coordinate.
'Matching outfits are probably to be avoided, and individuality is always the priority'
But the chaps in question may wish to check that their outfits are working together in the ways discussed above. It's probably best if, at any one time, only half of a same-sex couple is wearing a loudly checked suit.
Of course, there are times when it will serve a man well, aesthetically and emotionally, to pay his partner the compliment of consciously coordinating with his or her outfit.
The most elegant way that this can be done is by choosing a flower for your buttonhole, or a pocket square, that picks up the colour of her dress or jacket, or the colour of his shirt or tie. The other guests won't know for sure whether this subtle coordination is a deliberate gesture or a happy accident, which is surely the essence of real style.