A few years back I was out with my then girlfriend on Lake George. We had taken the boat down to a restaurant right on the lake, you pull up, dock, and step right off to get a table. We stayed late with my friends and had a wonderful time. The day turned into night, the sun set, we got ice cream, and it was dark.
It was 15 miles north back to my dock. In between was a stretch of islands known as “the narrows.” There’s a channel that runs through, but there’s also a few rocks and logs that are not well marked. And in the night time, the markers noting those rocks and logs are invisible.
Keep in mind, I know this lake. It is my lake. I’ve gone up there and swam and taken my boat into almost every cove and bay that it has. I have set foot on at least a third of the 165 islands dotting the lake, and probably swam past more.
So, with full confidence we head off into the night.
I can’t see anything. At first, it’s beautiful. The lakes calmed down and the stars are out. I got my lady with me wrapped up in a sweatshirt tucked under the wind, and I’ve got this. I know there’s a small island somewhere that’s not marked and I’m checking the lake line to see whether the blackness is interrupted at all by its silhouette. This is a little sketchy, and I start to get a little nervous. I can feel my girlfriend getting a bit uncomfortable next to me.
Then we start to hit the narrows, and I’ve got my bow aimed right for the lit channel marker. I know if I hug one side of the channel I’ll be okay, but that somewhere, there’s a pin. I just can’t quite remember which side. We hit the heart of the narrows and things get sketchier. There are islands all around us, and it’s still pitch black. I feel a bit overwhelmed, but I realize that I have to be confident, if only so the other person in the boat doesn’t get scared. So I double down, stand tall and pretend like I know what I’m doing.
And we made it home. And she really appreciated that I didn’t freak out, and stayed calm. In reality I was terrified that I could hit a rock that would send us hurtling into the water at any minute. But she trusted me…I think… Was it a risk? Absolutely. But I was confident in my surroundings, knew the basics, and ultimately got us home. Sometimes, you have to take risks, with confidence. I believed in what I was doing, even if there were times I was totally in the dark.
Matching patterns in your clothes is a lot like finding your way in the dark on a lake with limited pin markers and a few lit channel markers. Except you can see. And you won’t die if you mess up.
The basic premise of simply plunging into the darkness head-on remains. You just have to sort of match what looks good and wear it with confidence. Mixing two patterns is easy. Two of the same kind is harder. Three patterns you start to get a little sketchy. Two of the same kind with one of another and you have truly arrived. Three of the same kind of pattern and you’re in some dark waters. And if you can find your way through four patterns in an outfit, then you are a whole other class of sartorial being. The successful four pattern holy grail.
But, in order to get there, you have to take the risk.
Now, like I said, there are some channel markers. General guidelines to follow. First, almost always vary the sizes of your patterns. For example, if you are wearing a gingham checked shirt, you should not wear a super tight patterned tie. If you wear two patterns of the same size it will create an optical illusion of movement, and you risk making someone throw up on you. Seriously, there are some pattern clashes that are that violent.
Here’s some fun pattern matching with two, though not for the faint of heart.
On this I really like the interplay of the two floral designs. The tight one of the shirt, and the big bold design of the tie. With all that’s going on in this, I’m comfortable sticking with a solid pocket square.
We’re going to jump right into the heady waters of three of the same kind of pattern. Three stripes.
You can see my tie is a big bold stripe, while the shirt is a smaller stripe, though more consistent, and the suit is a low impact pinstripe. By varying the intensity, size, and boldness of the different patterns, you can combine them to create a pleasing look. You’ll also note that my smallest stripe is at the base or my shirt and the stripe grows outward to the jacket and on to the largest stipe on the tie.
For those starting out, I suggest beginning with mixing simply two patterns. Again, vary the sizes and their impacts to create harmony, but don’t be afraid to mix it up and take some risk. Next try mixing two of the same pattern. Then, start with three different patterns. This is the easiest, but can still be difficult. Try taking two larger patterns and one smaller, or vice versa. For example a small glen-plaid jacket, a small stripe shirt, and a large print tie.
Experiment and try different things. Take risks. Plunge into the night with confidence, and it will carry your sartorial ship through.
Today’s fold is the Dunaway Fold, which you already saw above.
1. Start with a square and hang from the middle.
2. Draw through until you have a puff at the top.
3. Roll the puff back over into itself.
4. Bring the four points up behind the puff making four points.
5. Place into the pocket and arrange.
That’s it for today. We’re working on big things here at SMK Style, and I appreciate everyone for reading and supporting the blog. If you could repost, or share any of your favorites on social media, it would really make my day. Anything else, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org