Stories / November 2019

Winter Blues: The Indigo Shirt Edit

Feeling blue? Reinvigorate your sombre winter wardrobe with these inky indigo shirts from some of menswear’s most beloved brands.

Marvin Gaye in 1973.

It’s easy to succumb to winter gloom. There’s less colour, less surprise. People hurry from place to place because the days feel over before they’ve begun. But given some time, your eyes warm to winter’s muted palette. Deep chocolate corduroy, heathered grey flannel, sharp navy suits. Above all, I love the winter blues: those intense indigos that make the perfect casual shirt in colder months.

Deep blues suit the distinctive textures of heavy seasonal fabrics: denim, needlecord, cotton flannel and velvet. These dense cloths are inherently casual, deriving from tough workwear and country sportswear. A deep, inky blue is one of the strongest colours in classic menswear, yet it’s never loud, perhaps thanks to its long history of humble but hard graft: indigo workwear and overalls in bleu de travail. For the same reason, they are at home with chinos and jeans. But dress them up, and these shirts give tailored clothing a little more charm or swagger.

The French painter Yves Klein is known for inventing the colour which bears his name: International Klein Blue. It’s an electrifying ultramarine, with a matte finish like crushed chalk. I still remember seeing a canvas of it for the first time in a Parisian gallery. The density hits you, as if everything else in the room is only shades of grey. Get up close, and you understand its secret: saturation is not only a question of colour but of texture.

The best winter blues have this same power. They fit instantly into a sober winter wardrobe, but they’re anything but boring. From the rough elegance of denim to the luxurious, unrestrained fun of velvet, they remind us that even in these short days, life should be filled with moments of intensity. Like Klein’s blue, they catch the eye and stick in the mind. Unlike the paintings, they are versatile, practical and there’s no ban on touching them. Here are some of my favourites.

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Alexander Freeling