Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Common Mistake by Caucasian/ Other Light Skinned Men When Selecting a Tie: The Perils of an Attire with Contrast that Far Exceeds That of Face

The problem, stated perhaps much too cryptically in the above title, is best explained by the first of the two video clips at the bottom of this post. And let’s begin by describing the subject in the video, who happens to be Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He has what experts call a “low-contrast face,” as do all men who have a very light skin and possess blonde/very light brown hair or no hair at all. [As a corollary, if Erdogan had lots of brown hair, his would be a “medium-contrast” face, and if he had lots of black hair, the term to describe his natural features above the neck would be “high contrast,” as is the case with most young Chinese males.]

Now let’s turn to Erdogan’s attire in the first clip. The clothes present a very high contrast, thanks to the design of the tie, what with its alternating (and bold!) black and white stripes. The result: an attire that easily dominates the rest of him, so much so that his face--which is what ultimately should attract and hold the observer’s eye--retreats into the background, almost falling off the picture. Why is this happening? Because, with the “center of gravity” of Erdogan’s overall appearance having been lowered to a spot below the neck, the observer’s gaze too is forcibly pulled down, to his chest area! It’s extremely important to note that Erdogan would have had a similar problem of the face being overwhelmed by a high contrast attire if he had worn a plain tie but one that contrasted very strongly with the rest of his clothes--for instance, a bright red tie, a white shirt, and a very dark jacket.

Let us now click on the second video clip. Notice that this time, as you look at him, your gaze is NOT pulled down below the neck. In fact, the glow emanating from his face is heightened thanks to the appropriateness of his attire. Yes, his tie-shirt-jacket combination does have an inbuilt contrast but the level is low, matching in intensity the low contrast of his face. You might well ask, what if Erdogan had swung to the other extreme, donning an attire with absolutely no contrast, such as a light blue shirt, light blue tie, and light blue jacket? Well, that’s not a good idea either because such an attire, while not pulling down the center of gravity from his face, would look boring and unimaginative and fail to add to the glow from his face. The unfavorable impression that results from a timid, ultra-low contrast attire will be the subject of a later blog.

The key lesson in all this: when choosing an attire, remember the overall objective, which is to heighten the glow from you face and thus hold the observer’s attention to it. The next time you step into an apparel store to buy a new tie, do not be seduced by a tie’s intrinsic beauty.

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal
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