Sunday, March 16, 2008

Luck of the stylish

St. Patrick's Day is a most auspicious occasion for at least one reason: It comes two days after the Ides of March. I'm not too big on superstition, but I'd much rather celebrate with the Irish than reminisce about the Roman Empire.

But I digress. 'Tis that time of the year to wear green and be happy-go-lucky. Successful people such as Oprah Winfrey are fond of the saying: "Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity." Well, in the spirit of getting lucky, let's prepare a look that uses green as the theme. (The opportunity part, you're on your own.)

Those of you who prefer to dig up your favorite green sports team jersey (think Boston Celtics or Philadelphia Eagles, or any special edition greenwear) need read no further. Just make sure the unis are clean before heading to the parade.

For those who are more discerning about the sartorial possibilities of going green for a day, consider these style pointers:

1. Accessorize. Armchair golf buffs can keep the green jackets in the closet at least until next month's Masters. (More on those later.) St. Patrick's Day this year falls on a Monday, the start of the workweek. If you head into the office wearing a blue blazer and a white shirt, for instance, a shamrock lapel pin and a green pocket square easily represent the occasion without radically changing your appearance.

If you choose to wear a green tie, decide how much "green" you want. A kelly green tie can dominate an entire outfit, but a patterned tie with green as part of a color combination can maintain harmony with your overall look.

2. Choose your greens wisely. The darker the shade of green, the easier it is to use gray as a contrast color, as well as blue, black or white. The lighter the green, the better it shows with khaki, black or white. Orange, one of Ireland's flag colors, is another complementary option. Forest and kelly are definitive shades of green to wear on St. Patrick's Day, but olive falls a little short of the mark.

3. Itching to wear that green jacket? OK, OK, America is a free country. Make an uninformed choice, however, and fellow Americans would be free to laugh in your face, behind your back, or just double over in amusement.

That said, I would suggest an Irish Tartan plaid. There are a number of options to choose from, but make sure you wear a solid-colored shirt and trousers to anchor the look. Mixing plaid patterns will quickly put you on the laugh track.

4. Have fun with it. If the plaid option seems too traditional, then do not be afraid to get funkier. St. Patrick's day is a festive time. In fact, if you want to feel lucky all over, take a look at Orvis' Shamrock Collection. It includes embroidered shamrock trousers, shorts, belts, shirts hats and footwear. At first, I said to myself, "You gotta be kidding me?" However, I must confess, the Shamrock Collection is interesting stuff.

So, the basic idea behind dressing for St. Patrick's day is to look smart, not loud. Wearing too much green on March 17 reveals an inexperienced dresser at best, while too little could make you seem unnecessarily indifferent. Finding a balance of patterns and solids that suit the occasion makes for a leisurely, sophisticated look.

In other words: Good luck.

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