A dissenting opinion. Black skin has a green tinge that does not go well with blue, especially an intense cobalt blue as in this suit. Black skin does go well with the yellow ochre part of the color wheel.
The Ice Man Cometh; cool blues for winter days, I’m shivering in sunny CA. While I’m a fan of blue shoes (I’ve had a pair of blue captoe Prada laceups for years), I would have chosen a darker or different color for this outfit, or maybe a lighter (grey?) hat. But, I respect his adamant choice. I like the cut of the suit, it’s very late 60′s sharkskin style, and the mix of lavender with the electric blue works very well. I think it makes an effective contrast with his skin color – earth tone vs. jewel tone (like the throat of a hummingbird).
The lavender, the blue is all genius, this man appears to be so satisfied, I wonder who he is and what he does. His whole outfit is a poem, nothing to criticize, you can’t improve anything, is cryptic and elegant, so fine… when you see a guy like this you wonder about the thousands poorly dressed men in NYC, no excuse.
Electric groove! I imagine this dapper gent arranging his ensemble with no small amount of conviction and pride: it’s the thought process that went into this turn out that is so pleasing in this photo.
I usually refrain from commenting on other commenters comments on the grounds that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but ricpic 10:58 above has moved me with the sheer outrageousness of his generalization that ‘black skin has a green tinge.’
1) The gentleman in this photo’s skin has no green tinge at all. If you copy the image to an editing program and reverse colour to the negative (which is a handy way to identify questionable ‘tinge’) the skin shows as a pale greenish blue. Green in the negative indicates the tinge of it’s opposite – red; blue is the opposite of orange. So it’s clear that in this photo the man’s skin, while clearly a rich brown, has a reddish-orangish, not greenish, tinge. A green tinge would show as pink in the negative image.
2) Black people, or people of African descent, who in the Americas are almost always of racially mixed heritage, are not in any way so alike that broad generalizations of this type can be made about their skin tone. In my experience black skin usually has yellow, orange, red, or in the case of some extremely dark-skinned individuals, blue or purple undertones. I have never seen a black person with a green undertone to his or her skin.
3) Anyone, black, white, asian etc., may be made to appear to have a greenish tint to their skin by the processes of photographic recording and reproduction. Such is not the case here. An actual greenish tint appearing in the skin of any human of any race in direct observation is so rare as to typically indicate acute illness, as in ‘looking green about the gills.’
Indeed, the color of the suit is wonderful and refreshing against the traditionally darker winter hues we so often see.
However, I am enamored by the fabulous cut of the suit! The sleeve length is precise and there is not an inch of fabric that ought or ought not be there. Truly, a testament to his style and his tailor’s abilities!
Love the suit and the way it looks on this gent. I am not feeling mixing it with lavender and pink, though, and the hat fits the man, but not the suit. I would also like to see him in some hipper shoes instead of those boring old man shoes.
Absolutely stunning. The fit is incredible as is the palette. Lavender and blue, such an ethereal, wintery mood. Reminds me of a less formal take on your oft-referred to navy jacket with a purple tie, from Rome, I believe. Right, Scott?
To Ricpic: I just had to respond, because I feel just the opposite. I think his skin tone is perfect for that shade of blue! His skin is dark and cool, and the blue and lilac really bring out the blue undertones in his skin, just as they would bring out the same colors in the skin of someone extremely pale. The way he highlights his skin is, in my opinion, absolutely gorgeous, and even before you mentioned VelĂˇzquez and Rubens I was going to compare him to an impressionistic painting.
I think it just depends on what you see as beautiful – as an artist, I love seeing skin in unlikely colors.
How I love a sharp dressed man! The paint-blue suit! The paint-blue shoes! The hat! The pink pocket square! He is just amazing, I hope I see him in real life some day. He is a reminder that life is worth living.
Thank you anon 2:19 for that response. To ricpic: Being an African-American I’ve heard the cool-colors is bad for your skin argument and I just feel that, that is so restrictive. This man OBVIOUSLY makes this color work for him and perhaps with the lilac (purple-tones are great on ANY skin tone) – it makes the suit more wearable. Nonetheless he looks incredibly sharp and I can’t really see anything wrong with this look. He obviously dresses with conviction.
Loath prescriptive attitudes. Can a ginger haired person wear orange? I have no doubt that some can carry it off. And does his skin colour prevent him from wearing anything he damn well likes? Hell no!
It’s all in the way you wear things, not in following rules set by the unimaginative.
And, incidentally, I reject the implication that clothing always has to be ‘flattering’ (whatever that means). Let’s hear it for human variety and being oneself.
He looks great. The shape, colour, fit… everything. An absolute star.
Many potential black fashionistas are limited by the constant generalizations such as the ones ricpic is making about skin undertones. an anecdotal example: I spent much of my childhood in red, a colour that, it turns out, is actually quite unflattering on me; if you want to see something even more horrifying, put me in yellow. During college, however, I discovered that, despite the stereotype of “black people should wear red and yellow!” blue is my best colour. Now no one can–or would–tell me otherwise, and certainly no one should dissuade this gentleman from wearing this hue. The suit is both flattering and stylish for him. I don’t know if too many people could successfully pull this off, but he does, and both the suit and colour couldn’t possibly look better on him. Besides, regardless of the colour of skin or fabric, the cut of the suit and the confidence with which it is worn are major factors in this man’s style. If all you can consider are pseudo-scientific justifications as to why this suit shouldn’t be worn, perhaps you should turn your analysis on your own fashion sense; they could be restricting your own vision. Enough ranting. Keep up the great work, Sart!
goodness. that man should never take off that hat. it suits him perfectly. can you believe a bubblegum pink pocket square and a lilac ribbed turtleneck? outrageous. he’s a vision. bravo for boldness.
as far as i’m concerned, his skin is the most delicious shade of deep eggplant, complimented so well by the purple, and chocolate/navy hat. his glasses are so very nice and subtle, and, well just plain cool.
some people do have olive undertones, but he certainly does not.
i can’t believe that there was ever such a rule that Africn-Americans shouldn’t wear blue. outrageous, and so wrong, as we can clearly see. obviously, certain skintones shouldn’t be paired with certain colors, but i think most people can wear a variation of nearly every color. it’s all about tint, hue, saturation, etc.
It’s way too much, borderline cartoonish. The blue is far too intense for an entire suit and then he has matching shoes. If he had just gone with the shirt (without the pocket square) and a black or dark brown suit, it might have worked.
My African American father wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit like that. He and his contemporaries have for decades tried to dress comfortably and well in a way that doesn’t open them up to all the stereotypes about black men dressing like pimps or in some extreme, non-mainstream way.
I hope you publish this comment. It’s a necessary response. I think many people like the photo because they think of blacks as “exotic” creatures who aren’t their counterparts. A lot of black people would have a problem with how he’s dressed. It’s really tacky.
ahh – so awesome! love the kind of blue reference. this guy has got to be a jazz musician, right? he reminds me of sonny rollins in stature/the way he holds himself. if only sonny dressed like that at his concerts. i can’t wait to find out who it is he’s actually related to!
all the objections to this guy and his outfit based on skintone, based on it possibly being too “exotic” or pimped-out – WHATEVER. this guy looks hot, and comfortable and confident in his own skin. that’s how *I* hope to feel every day when i get dressed in the morning, and that’s what makes this guy a total style icon. (plus, he’s not wearing something out of a magazine or a store window – which makes it that much more inspirational, to me at least).
Unfortunately, a lot of people in the U.S. and abroad have very distorted ideas of African Americans — they think they’re all hip hop artists or dress in extreme ways. When they meet black people who don’t conform to their false ideas they have the nerve to get upset.
I know that you posted the photo because you find the combination genuinely appealing. But I wrote to point out that, in addition to my simply disliking the combination (looking at it gives me a headache), it represents a kind of style that many African Americans try to avoid PRECISELY because it does play to a stereotype: The sharp-dressing black person in too-loud clothes who doesn’t have that much going on upstairs.
I read this site all the time and when someone is dressed in a way that pushes the envelope there’s usually a range of opinions. I couldn’t help thinking that the reason the reaction was almost unanimously positive here is that the “blacks are exotic” standard was being used.
I don’t see how Anon 2:13′s comment is relevant in the least. I think this gentleman looks exotic because of his clothes, not his skin color…I would be (pleasantly) surprised to see a man of any race dressed like this. What’s wrong with him dressing snazzily? What’s wrong with African Americans, or white people, or Eskimos, or even Martians dressing in a non-mainstream way? I applaud this man for being stylish and unusual.
I am a young black woman and I LOVE when i see older black men dressed in this style. Im also offended by your comment that this man has some how opened himself up “to all the stereotypes about black men dressing like pimps or in some extreme”. I mean there in was a time in this country when black women were constantly draped in some type of animal print and put in some setting to suggest they were some type of exotic sexual jungle creature. Should I stay away from leopard and all other animal prints b/c they play on the hypersexual nature of black women?
Re: anonymous 2:13 and this comment, “My African American father wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit like that. He and his contemporaries have for decades tried to dress comfortably and well in a way that doesn’t open them up to all the stereotypes about black men dressing like pimps or in some extreme, non-mainstream way.”
I understand the pressure one feels to contradict hurtful stereotypes, and not just with regard to style (though I will limit my examples to clothing for brevity). Nobody wants others to make negative judgments based on something as ultimately shallow as clothing is. I think everybody second guesses themselves while dressing in this manner– “I want to wear those skinny jeans, but people will assume I’m a trendwhore;” “if I’m overdressed, people will think I’m obsessed with appearance or narcissistic;” “if I’m underdressed, people will think I’m a slob;” “pair *that* skirt and *those* heels, and people will think I’m seeking a certain kind of attention…” …so I had better choose something else? The opinions of others greatly influence our lives, and we certainly can’t just disregard them wholesale, but at the same time, you’ll never fully control your audience’s opinions. It is a difficult line to toe between dressing how you want to and dressing in a manner that doesn’t facilitate stereotyping, and you kinda need to figure out what will and won’t fly on a day-to-day basis.
I do think, however, that you shouldn’t let the opinions of ignorant others COMPLETELY control your decisions. Sometimes it’s just the best thing ever to wear something unusual that resonates with your personal taste or aesthetics and it’s worth disregarding the attention of others and the silent judgment that entails. You think, “People probably think I look retarded but WHO CARES! I’m wearing my HAPPY boots today!” Is this where self expression comes into the “getting dressed” process? I didn’t really have a point to make here, just sympathizing with the speaker’s concern (or rather, his/her father’s) and musing on its implications…
Sart…you’re in ‘The Weekend’(The Guardian newspaper’s Saturday supplement)!! Have your read the article? Is very good, and I got so excited when I saw it. Hopefully you will start to get a larger English following now. On that note when are you next coming to London?
Honestly, i don’t use to have this kind of disagreement, but I think I have to say it. I don’t like the combination afroamerican+purple. It’s so tipical. Almost a stereotipe. Althought, the other “models” are fantastic!
I think the emphatic color works well for this guy because his skin tone is also intense, and I think with a suit color this un-subtle that’s the only “matching” issue that matters (undertones are really irrelevant). I like the style and shoulders of this suit but M. Fan seems right — horizontal chest creases indicate fit problems, or maybe this fabric is just toooo soft, like cashmere flannel? (hard to believe). I think he would be better balanced with different shoes (but what?) and some of the lavender showing at his wrists. The hat stumps me — it fits him stylistically, the color harmonizes with his skin perfectly, but something’s missing. Maybe he should try something with the hat band to nod to the intensity goin’ on down below? (Alternatively, maybe the shoes should echo the hat?)
This reminds me of pictures that I’ve seen of my father from long ago. I love it.
I am having a hard time understanding the whole skin-tone, suit color debate. I have dark skin, and am a designer so I have a reasonable understanding of color. I wear every single color you could possibly imagine and it always looks fabulous. Darker skin does not limit, it simply changes the eye. I have a feeling his actual appearance isn’t the problem, but rather what you’ve made up in your mind as acceptable. OPEN UP.
That suit has a great cut to it and I’m betting it’s bespoke. I don’t really care about the color as much as the fabric. Mohair? Linen? I can’t tell but it looks a tad on the light side for one of the coldest weeks in NY. If I wore a linen suit in December the fashion police of this city would have me doing time in the stockroom of Men’s Wearhouse.
I don’t understand how anyone can’t like the way this man looks. To quote somebody or other on somebody or other – I don’t know what IT is, but he’s got it in spades…what is that whole blue suit green face conversation about, anyway? you fools.
“I do think, however, that you shouldn’t let the opinions of ignorant others COMPLETELY control your decisions.”
Of course not. But how we dress reflects all kinds of issues, including how we are perceived and would like to be perceived. For African Americans, American culture is still quite racist. Should we start with the fashion industry?
I don’t know too many African Americans who go into luxury stores wearing unkempt clothes even though that’s their right. They are in part concerned about perceptions. They know that even if they’re perfectly dressed they’re still likely to be followed around.
I also disagree that this style is not largely associated with black men. The only over-the-top, loud, colorful patterns I can think of worn by non-blacks in America are ultra-preppy styles worn by WASPs and golfers. Those are clearly play clothes. (I’m not wild about them either.)
Again, I’m talking about how clothes are read in American mainstream culture, not a fashion magazine. Black people who want to be taken seriously, who don’t want to be just perpetual “edgy,” “exotic” outsiders, pay attention to these things.
For the last time, it was interesting to me, not that some people liked a style that I don’t but, that NOBODY ELSE thought it was a bit extreme, which goes to my “exoticism” point.
I’ve seen many styles on this blog featuring far less extreme looks that sparked much more debate.
The reason I know is because I really enjoy this blog.
i love this so hard. it reminds me of a painting in my parents house of a black man playing a flute. he is so black that he is blue, or has blue undertones.. when i was little they used to make up stories about him and tell us..
very interesting points on both sides about the social implications of fashion.
i tried to imagine a caucasian man dressed similarly, and the reations it might stir.
it brought to mind a caucasian man featured on oct. 17 2007 wearing a bubblegum pink coat over an irridescent lilac suit. comments were, once again, overwhelmingly positive. both these men really seemed to just own it.
reactions to the outfit were slightly different than from a really sharp, more traditional power suit or somesuch. less reverent appreciation and more endearing approval, if that makes sense. but still on his team, rooting for him with enough respectfulness that it didn’t seem derisive. and look at how much beloved support there was for the man with the fan (Sept. 5 2007).
i think the people that anonymous poster mentioned, including his/her own grandfather, who dressed thoughtfully and deliberately in opposition to stereotypes helped to create a gap between those stereotypes and the current day, allowing african-americans the freedom to dress more liberally today.
so i guess i’m saying yay for the previous generations who dispelled stereotypes, and yay for their beneficiaries, who have more freedom to express themselves sartorially.
sorry for the massive ugly run-on sentences, but what do people think?
I get so tired of all the black, black, black, black, and the gray. I love color. I try to avoid wearing neutrals (especially black) as much as possible. And I love it when somebody has the self-confidence to buck trends and stodgy old fashion rules that dictate what is essentially BORINGNESS. This outfit is absolutely impeccable and appropriate in every way — the style, the fit, the attitude of the man wearing it — and yet it is like a bolt of lightning because of the color!
Ahhh, Sart. I’ve been a little busy lately, but the kids have a snow day today, and I’m back. It just wouldn’t be right if old DK didn’t comment here. I know I’m late, but here goes.
Yeah, we shouldn’t overpoliticize stuff. Yeah, he has the right to dress like he wants. Yeah, I am impressed that he has loafers that match perfectly with the suit. But…I do think it’s two buttons away from a zoot suit.
I mean, you have to understand the Black culture to understand why there are certain people that have issues with this outfit. Blacks historically dressed flashy because that was there venue of expression in a world of overabundant oppression. “The “white man” can’t tell me what to wear. I have my own money. I’m going to look good.” This was a very unsubstantiated way of thinking, and it was very soon adopted by a lot of the seedier elements (i.e. pimps and hustlers).
Now, I must say that my father is a very dapper dresser and he did steer me away from this type of look. To each his own, but I think fashion is something that should be studied so that the individual can develop a style that reflects their individuality. A cookie-cutter flashy look like this one, I must say that I would never endorse.
I am delighted by this man, his choice of clothes, his attitude, and the fit of the clothes. Very cool. Very hip. Very daring, and successful.
I am amazed by the reactions of blacks and non-blacks, citing skin colors, racial expectations, etc. This guy doesn’t strike me as a pimp! He’s a hipster of some ilk. This guy takes it right up to that line, and stops before he becomes undone by being overdone. He’s blaring individuality, confidence, style. His lack of ‘bling’ and fur takes him off the shelf of pimp and onto the display stand of jazz musician.
Who knows what this guy REALLY is? I can say assuredly he is AWESOME.