ASK DAN: Color Pallettes, DIY Alterations, Magazines Dying

November 20th, 2015


How to Create a Color Palette

Q: I am having some confusion about colors. When i go shopping i don’t know what colors to choose or how to pair them together. I’ve read many articles on color but can’t seem to “get it”. I am a medium skin man and my favorite colors are red, orange and yellow…but these are all spice colors and can’t be used much for dressing. I’ll be grateful if u help.

A: This can be tricky, as it takes time and experience to train your eye to develop a tasteful color palette. It’s especially difficult to “teach” the use of color, as a great combination has so much to do with context, season, climate, skin/hair, size, etc. Firstly, I would disregard what your “favorite colors” are. This is not something you have to wear on your sleeve, figuratively or literally. When putting together an outfit, I always start with a neutral base in a masculine color that is medium-to-dark. If you look through the archives of AOS looks, for example, the most prominent garment (jacket, suit, overcoat) is usually navy blue, dark brown, medium grey, etc. For the secondary garment (shirt, trouser, sweater/layer) I would introduce a secondary color that offers a contrast to the base, but is not loud or flashy. Think khaki, medium blue, lighter grey, burgundy, forest green, etc. Lastly, the thinnest garment (closest to the body) should be the lightest and most subdued. A pale shirt in a color that enriches your skin tone (like white, beige, pale sky blue) works to create a non-distracting canvas that puts your person on display, rather than your outfit on display… If you really feel the need to add some “spice”, I would do so in small doses with one accessory (like a tie, scarf, pocket square, beanie). I hope this was helpful. There’s a lot to say on this topic…we’re working on an editorial that breaks-down easy color palettes that are flattering for different skin tones. More soon. Cheers!

Do-It-Yourself Alterations

Q: Hey Dan. After stumbling upon Articles of Style and reading just about every article this week, I’m hooked! I love the aesthetic of tailoring that can last and also transition to casual attire. The problem is, now I have a closet full of shirts and trousers that I know are 1-2 sizes too large for me (thanks to “Garment Doctor” and “How It Should Fit” series). Is there something I can do myself to make these garments look slimmer and updated? Thanks!

A: Hmm. Are you decent with a sewing machine? In theory, you could take-in your oversized shirts and trim the leg of the trousers (taper thigh/knee/bottom) fairly easily, but you have to know your way around a sewing machine. It’s not necessarily “difficult” to do minor alterations like this, but it can feel like a steep learning curve to get to know the machinery and tedious processes necessary to finish a garment properly… We’re actually working on a article titled “DIY Alterations”, although if you’ve never sewn anything, I would probably save yourself the time and frustration by taking your old stuff to a tailor, or selling it to a second-hand store if you’ve invested in garments that hold value. Ultimately, there is always trade-offs when you’re attempting to cut down ready-to-wear garments to fit properly, and those trade-offs are greatly enhanced by novice seamstress work. More soon, thanks for reading.

Death to Advertorial

Q: I just saw that DETAILS magazine went out of business this week. I was reminded of an article you wrote about the current state of men’s magazines and the prominence of “advertisement-focused content” affecting their readership. Curious on your thoughts about this closing? Is GQ going under next? Are they going to shift strategy? 

A: This was no surprise. Just a matter of time, really. Magazines are getting squeezed from both sides. On one hand advertisers are spending less and less on the print space. A brand’s advertising budget is better spent with online publishers (where each campaign dollar can be traced with transparency) and on their own online efforts to get in front of potential consumers directly. Secondly, because magazines now have less advertisers to chose from, those that are still spending are asking for a lot more in return. This has created a landscape where “advertorials” have overtaken “editorials”. In the age of transparency, educated consumers, and personal opinion blogs, the masses are starting to realize that everything in these magazines is an advertisement sold to a brand, not an actual recommendation from an “expert”. It’s just the beginning of this shift. The real question is if this closing is going to cause a Wall Street style snowball effect where even more advertisers pull-out their “guaranteed” dollars, escalated this shift and forcing the big publishers to make even more radical shifts. Either way, if I was working for one of the remaining men’s magazines selling “advertorials”, my butthole would be feeling extra tight about now.


Thanks, as always, for reading. Got a style question? Hit me

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford. Modeling by Young Myles. 

  • TMann

    I’m a 40-ish year old dad and I recently taught myself how to run a sewing machine. I picked it up at first because I was tired of spending $12-15 to have my pants shortened, but I quickly learned how to do some “intermediate-level” alterations: narrow the legs of some of my relaxed fit pants, adding darts to the back of my shirts so they weren’t so billowy and even shortening the sleeves of a wind breaker that was way too long. There’s a bit of a learning curve involved, so its not something that one can just pick up over a single weekend. But if you’re good with your hands and are willing to put some time into it, there’s no reason that a typical guy can’t learn to do some basic tailoring.

    It’s nice having a closet full of clothes that fit properly, rather than a bunch of billowy shirts and baggy pants…

  • LarsBrown.

    It was always my dream to work at GQ – I studied journalism at university and this was goal #1. At the time I didn’t care if I was making coffee I just wanted to be in there in some respect. Slowly these kind of magazines are losing my respect (and as such my career now has nothing to do with my degree). I try my very hardest no to find niche magazines of real quality – most of which are real quarterly mags or bi-annuals. Or, read AoS which really, is what GQ should be.

    • TO

      What do you think about the mag Monocle? I haven’t actually sat down and read it before but have been to it’s shop- I like the idea, it seems well done and very diversified in its content/endeavours, maybe that’s a type of approach that will work in print these days?

      • LarsBrown.

        Same as you TO, I’ve flicked through it but haven’t had a sit down to read it through. I would like to and I think it’s one of the few relatively well known titles around that still has something to it.

      • LarsBrown.

        TO, thought I’d give you a shout as I picked up this months Monocle. Have to say I really like it. It’s much more of a ‘lifestyle’ mag with more emphasis on travel, culture and politics – a little more ‘serious’ than GQ has become. I don’t mind that at all but there’s little focus on style. Really well written without taking itself too seriously. I’ll be buying it again, for sure.

        • TO

          Hmm so there’s not much in there about clothes? It does sound good.

  • Dave

    Good to know your butthole is not feeling extra tight right now. :^)

    • Dan Trepanier

      lol someone had to say it

  • Dave Coakley

    Men’s Health magazine in the UK is shocking these days. They’ve become absolutely OBSESSED with advertising watches. I can see them going next.

  • Thomas

    Hurray for the comming DIY alterations article :)

  • AFH

    I don’t think orange and red have to be ‘spice colours’. I wrecked a muted orange pair of pants in under a year through overuse. Dark red is scientifically proven to make men look more attractive to women. Yellow is tougher, but again you can look to more muted shades. I’ve worn a lemon shirt with a burgundy jumper and orange trousers and looked exceptional. I even have a yellow cord flat cap from Cordings. It’s not about how far you go, but how go you far……

  • Alexander R.

    Hey Dan,

    I’m planning on buying a motorcycle within the next 3 months and I’m looking into buying a leather jacket and a pair of boots as well, but for the life of me, I can’t choose whether I should buy brown or black leather.
    I’m pretty pale, freckly, and have medium brown hair, so part of me is thinking brown is the way to go, but I’d love your insight.
    P.S. I actually already have a pair of brown leather boots, but they’re not ones I would ride with too often, due to them being thinner leather and I’ve heard you can wear through the thin leather on the top from using the clutch? Not sure if that’s true or not, but if it is, I certainly don’t want to ruin them.

    • TO

      Definitely go with black that’s just my 2c tho

      • Alexander R.

        Thanks for the insight, TO
        I’ll keep it in mind.

  • TO

    Glenn O’Brien got played! He has a new interview show called “Tea at the Beatrice with Glenn O’Brien” that’s interesting. He would be the ultimate feature !

  • AdamE

    Great advice on color palette… I had always built my wardrobe around the classic colors, but it was only when I got my last custom suit (from a local MTM shop), that in talking with the guy there as we flipped through the fabric swatch books, that he drew my attention to that (he also pulled some sample jackets for me to throw on to illustrate the point). The jist of the discussion was that while I can pull off both greys and blues well, the sweet spot for me is in the blues… All this to say, that it’s worth talking to some trusted (and preferably well dressed) friends, and to try on some different colors to get their reactions…. As for the favorite colors, I’m lucky that mine are blue and green, so they’re easy enough to incorporate into clothing/accessories, but I agree with Dan, that if you must incorporate jarring colors, they tend to work best in accessories (few and far between are those who can pull off the bright suits without looking costumey…)