There are some phrases that a man should never utter, let alone type. Phrases which are best left to trashy gloss magazines that unsanctimoniously bloat newstands. I say this so you know just how much it pains me to write the following: dark blue is the new black. Or blue-and-black is the new black.

Done. Dusted. A cardinal rule broken. But for a good cause. If you’re going to break a rule, if you’re going to let yourself down, you have to do it for a good cause, right? And this is it. When it comes to winter fashion, as it shall be for men’s winter 2012 fashion, so many of us treat black clothing as the default. Throw open our wardrobe doors and peer in and you won’t be confronted by a sea of colour but rather the sartorial equivalent of a black hole, all light sucked into nothingness (even if that nothingness just happens to be designed by some of the finest names money can buy).

This winter we get to change all that. This winter we get to do away with black, develop a panache for deep blues and utter ever so quietly that, for men, blue is the new black. And once that fact is firmly cemented in our minds, we need never utter the phrase again lest we be caught out.

So what does this new black look like as 2013 looms on the horizon?

Just which blue exactly?

Depending on just how much you trust Google’s search results, you may be surprised to learn that there are either 52 shades of blue or an infinite amount. It’ll also probably tell you that there are 50 shades of gray or a bajillion. Overlooking the obvious disparity, this still leads us to only one conclusion: Google lies blue is the new black doesn’t mean just any shade of blue.

Neigh, it’s a shade of blue so dark that it’s called midnight blue. Or put another way, it’s the colour wheel equivalent of androgyny: it’s a colour that sits ambiguously somewhere between black and blue. We’ve all been there, asking of our shopping companions “do you think this is blue or black?”. That’s the shade of blue men should be wearing during autumn / winter 2012. And if that doesn’t help you recall precisely which shade of blue it is, you’ll find many a label and designer have cheated and designed clothes made up of two colours: midnight blue and black, right alongside eachother.

So what particular pieces of clothing should we men be investing in?

Dark blues: the clothing to wear

The staples of any winter season wardrobe. Or at least where my staples lie. Like a bum to his booze I fervantly begin each autumn / winter season reflecting on just what outerwear will warm me. Is it a winter I’ll be likely to spend city bound? Are there ski trips on the horizon? Snowy mornings and cozy cafes?

It’s here, in statement overcoats and jackets, that the season’s dark blues should permeate through style and swagger. And here’s how the fashion world has tackled just that this winter.

midnight blue sports coat

Midnight blue sports coat at Gustavo Lins, F/W ’12

At the conservative end of the fashion spectrum you can’t go past Gustavo Lins’ deconstructed midnight blue sportscoat. Even with its sheen it’s somewhat subtle, sitting as one of the most casual and least showy interpretations of the trend. You’ll find a similar interpretation of midnight blue in Fendi’s seasonal collection, with beautifully cut overcoat and a contrast of black leather and midnight blue wool also an option.

black and navy coats

Dark blue and black outerwear at Fendi, F/W ’12

If you prefer something with a minimalist twist be sure to take in Acne’s A/W 2012 collection. Here your options range from the soft curves to hard lines, with styling tips for layering a spectrum that ranges from black to mid-blue thrown in for good measure.

dark blue black menswear

Dark blues at Acne, F/W ’12

Equally as minimalist is Agnes B’s angled-zip overcoat. It somehow feels more dated, I put that down to the length and epaulettes. But that same length also makes it a good option for guys who are 6 foot plus or those with a bottom-heavy physique.

deep indigo mens clothing

Deep indigo blue coat at Agnes B, F/W ’12

If minimalism sits opposite to your preference for the showy, then options abound. Dirk Bikkembergs has translated the look as blue and black, effortlessly revitalising a midnight blue velvet and contrasting it with the black, peaked lapels of a double breasted dinner suit. Note here the obvious styling of the look with black shoes, where brown leather might otherwise be recommended with a navy suit.

midnight blue velvet mens

Midnight blue velvet at Dirk Bikkembergs, F/W ’12

Then there’s Diesel Black Gold for those with a 70’s step to their swagger.

midnight blue coats

Dark blue outerwear at Diesel Black Gold, F/W ’12

But if you want to really like the showy without the seventies, then look to the ostentatious interpretations by Dries Van Noten. There’s the relaxed cut of the knee length overcoat but, for me, the look is perfected in Dries Van Noten’s pea coat. Trim at the waist and cropped at the hem, it’s finished with perfect classicism.

mens midnight blue peacoat

Men’s midnight blue peacoat at Dries Van Noten, F/W ’12

You’ll note we have only explored outerwear. While you will find blue-black interpreted across a range of other clothing this autumn / winter, it really remains a trend to be worked through your jackets and coats.

The cheat sheet

  • You’re looking for a colour of blue so dark that you need to question whether it’s blue or black.
  • It’s a look that’s all about your winter coats.
  • Don’t be afraid to take the easy route with an overcoat that is predominantly midnight blue save for a black trim.
  • Memorise the fact that dark blue is the new black, but never repeat the phrase. Also forgive me for writing it.
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