If you’re prepared to take part in a style experiment please put on a navy blue jacket, and a pale blue shirt. Now put on a burgundy-coloured satin silk tie, and take a moment to consider the impression this makes. Next, remove the satin-silk tie and replace it with a burgundy-coloured woolen tie. Have a look at the image the outfit now projects. An even simpler test could involve switching between a silk pocket square, and similarly coloured linen one.

These simple tests demonstrates the power of texture, and how without varying any other element of an outfit a change in texture will make a powerful difference. Much of this is down to the play of light on different textures. For instance, the way that a fuzzy flannel suit looks in autumnal sunshine will be entirely different from the way that it looks in a dimly lit restaurant. That’s why men who take this stuff seriously will, for the evening, commission suits that are made from fabrics with some mohair in the blend, which reflect a little right. A hopsack cloth that’s perfect for the office will merely absorb weak evening light, and so look rather dead at night.

There are clearly limits as to how shiny a fabric can be before it has no place in decent society, but generally speaking fuzzier, non-reflective fabrics are less formal. For instance, a brushed cotton shirt is more rustic and casual than a neat poplin shirt, a fuzzy flannel blazer will look less formal than a navy-blue silk blazer, and cashmere ties look more relaxed than silk ones. In every case the fuzzier fabric is better suited to daytime wear, the smoother one better in the evening. Whether a man likes to match textures, by, for instance, wearing woolen ties with tweed jackets, or contrast them, is up to him. The point is only that he should be aware of what he’s doing, because every article of clothing has a texture, as well as a colour, to be considered when putting together an outfit.


Advanced dressers may want to play with unexpected textural contrasts, such as a linen shirt under a tweed jacket, or suede shoes with a smooth suit.

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