Sheen and Flatness

by Tanner

Once you get color, pattern, and texture, you can start worrying about sheen. Don’t worry though, this is advanced stuff and I’m addressing it more for the sake of information than instruction. However, if you feel like you’re ready for it, by all means start adding some variety.

In a similar vein to texture, different materials reflect light differently. These reflections are called the sheen and each material has a different sheen to it.

silk scarf wool suit

For the most part, a shinier material (one with more sheen) is considered to be more formal and also more dandyish, while those that are more dull are considered more casual and rugged. For example, you have very different mental images when you think of silk or tweed.

You will want to combine flat materials and shiny materials the same way you combine varying patterns or textures. It adds visual variety and will keep you from looking too uniform. For example, if you’re wearing a winter-weight wool suit you will want to pair it with a silk tie and/or square to give it some visual balance. This is the same reason you shine your shoes as most dress pants are made of materials that have a more matte appearance – it’s why suede shoes look more casual.

shined shoes wool trousers

Keep in mind that this is for business or after-dark use only. Shinier materials (especially in larger quantities) are more refined. From a masculine perspective they connote a sense of abundant safety. Silk is a luxury material and it’s not made for practical purposes.

So for those of you in the business world, consider adding some variation to your wardrobe by purchasing some silk squares or even a silk scarf. It’ll give you some visual variety and a new challenge in dressing better.

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