THE ITALIAN BACKGROUND
This is pretty much what I wore yesterday. Well, actually, the shirt was Indochino (no longer offered on their site) and the navy knit tie was an eBay find, but I want you to focus on the combination of a light blue shirt and a solid navy tie.
I first picked up on the idea of the Italian Background from Simon Crompton at Men’s Flair. In that article, he notes how Italians use this combination as a ground to tone down daring jackets, often with a spread collar. Spend any amount of time in The Sartorialist’s archives, though, and you’ll find many men—Italian and otherwise—pair this shirt and tie with a navy suit. Coincidentally, Dennis posted an article today singing the praises of this specific trio.
Blue on blue may sound boring and obvious, but that’s the point. As Simon puts it:
The combination works well because a blue shirt suits most people more than white, and it fades more into the background; because a dark tie fades more into the background than a pale tie; and because the dark blue tie is the most similar in tone and harmonious combination with a blue shirt – without being too similar and evoking tone on tone.
So whether you’re trying to highlight your sport jacket or your face, this combination will get the job done. You can easily add subtle sophistication by choosing a grenadine or silk knit tie to introduce some interesting texture. And the great thing about wearing this with a navy suit is that it tones down the whole outfit, letting you slip in interesting pieces like a colorful silk knot through the lapelhole, or the light brown double monks I wore.
Coming up: illustrations and variations via The Sartorialist.