You Asked: Can You Wear Black And Navy Together?
From pool slides with socks, to pocket squares and whether it’s OK to wear black and blue, MR PORTER answers your most pressing style questions.
Fashion, by its very nature, is cyclical. Things come in, things go out. Trends might stick around for several years (skinny jeans, bare ankles). They might keep coming around (camo and all things military). Or they might pop up and then go away as quickly as they arrived (no one wears really skinny ties anymore, for example, and who knows how long millennial pink will last?).
This week in our style advice column, we address the divisive trend that is pool slides and socks. We also explore whether or not the pocket square has had its day. And finally, we stress test the validity of the longstanding style rule that decrees black and blue should not be worn together.
Keep your questions coming via our social channels or email them directly to email@example.com. We’ll tackle three more next Friday.
**Socks and pool slides – yes or no?
From Mr Victor M, via email **
I’ll admit it took me a while to come around to this, but these days I am a willing accomplice to what some consider a heinous fashion crime. Albeit only at weekends, or when walking the dog in the evenings. I would never wear this combination to the office. (If you happen to work at KITH’s head office, however, it’s part of the dress code. Each member of staff and each visitor checks his/her shoes at the door for a pair of slides.)
I believe this look was popularised by professional athletes who, when not performing (before, after or during games) like to give their feet a breather. But because athletes’ feet are generally pretty gnarled from the rigours of performing in too-tight shoes, they prefer not to expose the horrors – hence the socks. The sneaker community embraced the look. Then fashion brands did likewise as part of the current high-meets-low movement. (Gucci’s pool slide has been a bestseller for MR PORTER this summer.) The look became a fixture on Instagram and stuck.
If you’re going to do it, there are some rules. Firstl you must own it. Wear your slides with confidence. Secondly, be practical: this is a fairweather summer look or an indoors look.
Also, you can’t clash your brands. If you are wearing the most classic of pool slides, the adidas Originals navy-and-white three-stripe – aka Adilettes – then you mustn’t wear Nike socks with them, for example. You might get lynched in the street by a sneakerhead.
Fresh white ankle socks work best. The socks must be pristine rather than off-white, threadbare or “delasticated”. They can have a band of colour around the ankle, but socks with contrast colours at the heel and/or toe will not work. And bear in mind what your day has in store. Trudging around town all day in exposed white socks will become troublesome rather quickly.
**Are pocket squares still a thing?
From Mr Tom Mangan via email **
I understand where the question comes from. Mad Men brought the pocket square back from the moth-balled fringes of affected dapperness and made it mainstream. But then, just as quickly, it nearly killed it again through over-exposure. Just about every guy in a jacket was wearing one, but not always well. Pocket squares became a sartorial crutch that ticked the box of “making an effort”. The fizzle and pop of the accessory went flat.
But perhaps we’ve come full circle. I still believe pocket squares absolutely have their place (that place being one’s breast pocket), so long as they are worn well and judiciously.
With pocket squares, there are two main acceptable options: the straight edge – a crisply folded half inch of pocket square that pokes neatly out of the breast pocket (this looks especially smart with a classic white cotton pocket square worn with a sharp suit and tie) – or the casual tuck (pinch the handkerchief from the middle and loosely tuck in the four hanging corners). This is a more louche affair that works well with blazers or suits worn with or without a tie. I prefer a matte cloth in a dark or muted pattern, preferably from Drake’s, but a pop of bright colour and/or pattern is no bad thing. A pocket square should never directly match your tie but it can coordinate with a minor colour in the tie or perhaps with a colour in your socks. And, as we have discussed before in this column, be wary of over-bombing when it comes to accessories. There’s a defined line between peacock and cock. Don’t cross it.
**Can you wear black and navy blue?
From @jonathantan_ via instagram**
“No brown in town”, “blue and green should never be seen”, “no white after Labor Day” – there are some hoary old-style rules that linger in the collective consciousness but really don’t hold a lot of weight under scrutiny. The idea that one should not wear black and navy blue together is probably another one. I say “probably” because I can see the validity of arguments on both sides.
If you’re going to do it, you need to make sure it looks deliberate. I would not, for example, wear black suit trousers with a navy blazer – it could give the impression you got dressed in the dark – but the combination can look very elegant. I have a midnight-blue tuxedo with black grosgrain lapels and I feel like the contrast helps to elevate the look. It’s a subtle twist on a classic.
Worn casually, the colour combination can also help to soften the impact of an all-black outfit, which can look a bit rocker or goth, depending on how you style it. Wearing a pair of indigo blue jeans with a black leather biker jacket, for example, changes the overall impression. A pair of black jeans with a navy-blue bomber, or vice versa, often works well as a smart-casual look.
However, it is true that black is not the easiest of combination colours to get along with. It’s certainly not as friendly as navy blue, which pretty much goes with everything. Black obviously works fine within the monochromatic spectrum of greys and white, but it doesn’t always go with brown or blue. You need to try it and see how it feels. I don’t often mix black with blue, or black with brown for that matter, because it just looks off to my eye. It’s not wrong though – it just comes down to personal preference.