JUJie air continues to rhin at this altitude as we leave solid ground and rule of thumb, guided now only by intuition and cxperi ence. Brandishing three plaids or three stripes falls very much within the parameters of traditional elegance: however, such an enterprise is fraught with the risk of contrivance and self-consciousness. Whether such a convergence strikes the observer as the summit of style or the edge of arrogance depends on the wearer's skill.

Once again, scale becomes the blueprint for success, following the technique for dealing with two like patterns, scale must now work overtime to impose a similar discipline on three. Sometimes these creations go easier when graduating in size from small out to large, begin at the base with the smallest step and proceed on up.

Take a look at Basil Rathbonc's graduated arrangement of checks (top). Starting w ith his shirt's small tattersall. he builds up to the jacket's larger houndstooth check, and then extends things outward to the jackets larger plaid pocket square. Likewise, Prince Charles (center) jumbles around three plaids with a display of aristocratic aplomb.

The same basic geometry applies to successfully choreographing three stripes (bottom). Once again, such a linear scenario falls very much within the mainstream of sophisticated taste, and. like the plaid trio, its fortune rests squarely on the skill of the wearer. In melding three stripes, start with the smallest at the base and then branch up and out in scale. By building upon each strripe's graduation in size, the arrangement is infused with dimension and proportion, minimizing the potential for contrivance inherent in such repetition.


Graduating checks from shirt outward.

CENTER: Prince Charles in three checks.


Graduating stripes from shirt outward.

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