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Just how much green can I add to my wardrobe?

The question

I like green. It matches my eyes. But I can't dress head to toe in green like some mythical knight. Which clothes are greenable and which aren't?

The answer

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Every item of clothing comes in green. There's nothing particularly radical or daring about the colour. I can imagine every one of them looking good, except perhaps leather lace-up shoes. (Even that, you could carry off, if you ran an art gallery in Berlin or Miami.)

Germans and Austrians look deeply old-fashioned in their dark green loden coats. (Loden is a heavy wool felt; the classic Tyrolian coat style is long and loose, with a deep centre vent starting at the shoulder-blades.) Finance Minister Jim Flaherty favours green ties with almost every suit, and he looks conservative in every sense.

Olivey tweed suits used to be quite common for country-house wear. I wear a tweed sportjacket with lots of green wool in it. I wouldn't wear a regular wool green suit, but that's only because I have never seen a great example; that doesn't mean one couldn't be imagined.

I regularly pair a green check shirt with a navy suit. (Remember all the old admonitory phrases, like "blue and green should never be seen"? Well, now forget them.) A bright green belt or watch strap might be a bit garish for my taste, with dress-up clothes, but I can imagine those with white pants on a summer day.

My best advice is to really go for it: prefer bright green to drab olive. And, as with all colours, avoid uniformity. An emerald tie or pocket square is fine, but not both. A green tweed jacket is fine, but then stay clear of green pants. A green tie is not going to go well against a green shirt.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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