I was working at a corporate job in my twenties. I saw a television show featuring a well-dressed guy with dark hair. I naively thought I'd emulate him, so I bought a medium gray sweater similar to the one the actor wore. But when I wore it at work the next day, the middle-aged secretaries asked me if I was feeling unwell. I was fine and could not understand their queries. Then the next week I wore a dark brown sweater that I had owned since high school. The secretaries all complemented me on my apparel.
I pondered the difference of reactions while trying to ignore the aforementioned secretaries hitting on me. So the color of my sweater had made a drastic difference in the way I was seen. I went to the bookstore and bought "Color for Men," advertised as a resource for determining which colors a guy looked his best in.
The book noted that fair-skinned guys looked their best in browns, greens, subdued blues, orange, rust, and some other colors. Their ancestry was largely northern Europe. Their worst colors were black, gray, bright colors, e.g. royal blue, and most grayed colors.
Everything was illuminated.
I read the three other sections, with the premise being that skin can be separated into four seasons, winter, spring, summer, and autumn. I never could understand the difference between spring and summer, but the colors of winter were clear: black, gray, bright colors, and white. Winters often had ancestry in Africa, southern Italy, Asia, Pacific islands, and/or native populations of the Americas.
I gave my gray sweater to a local charity.
I discussed this with a few women at jobs I had over the years. The intelligent ones understood the color scheme and agreed with me that Hollywood redheads and blondes -- natural ones -- looked terrible in black or dark gray. One woman described it as if the wearer's head was floating above the outfit.
And now Rutgers University has firmly stuck its foot in the discussion with its dress code for job fairs restricting students to "dark gray or black suits [and] white dress shirts," all wonderful colors for African American, Asians, and most Hispanics, but really terrible ones for those with ancestry in northern Europe.
Some students who were turned away from the job fair noted that many people in the corporate work force, including Wall Street firms, wear navy blue suits, though navy is not that different than black. But even they missed the larger issue.
There is nothing wrong with dark brown suits, as Reagan wore them rather successfully. There is nothing wrong with lighter-than-navy blue suits. There's nothing wrong with brown shoes and belt with a brown suit. And there's nothing wrong with light pastel shirts.
Dean Phillips, men's clothing buyer for the Altamonte Springs branch of Rutland's Inc., said back in 1985: ''I would describe [Reagan's] personality as that of a free, independent thinker that doesn't need to be stereotyped in blue-gray.''
As compared to the straitjacket thinking at Rutgers.