A fraternity brother of mine was the epitome of peacock fashion. He always impressed, kept his hair impeccable, and maintained a “I’m cooler than my outfit” vibe throughout college. I soon fell to the attractiveness of the golden fleece (Brooks Brothers) and their powerful, bright, short shorts. It was a new era, one where I’d be known for color, not for pajama pants, as I was in high school.
By my first year as a recruiter on Delta Sigma Phi’s staff I was an advocate for peacocking and bow ties. I mixed and matched so obnoxiously and recklessly that I occasionally looked like Ronald McDonald of McDonald’s. Most of those I worked with and most of the students I recruited acknowledged my uncanny lack of shame in wearing clothes that would embarrass others.
I was a fashion terrorist, adding ridiculousness to an otherwise orderly world.
I was in to my second year of staff and started to get annoyed. Being showered with attention as the guy who peacocks was getting on my nerves in much the same way a cat only likes to be pet when it likes to be pet.
Slowly but surely I came to see peacocking among fraternity men as a ritualistic presentation of one’s style. Sort of like how peacocks compete by maintaining excellent plumage.
It had to stop. . . at least for a year or two.
In the years since I’ve given away many of my garments – some because they were hideous, and others because they matched literally one other bright object in my closet. So here are some tips to not purchase a bunch of clothes, decide you look like an ass, and then have to re-orient your wardrobe.
Choose a Palette Before You Buy
The issue with having shirts and pants in every color and none of them in the same color is that your options for matching clothes get absurd after one or two outfits.
Pick 3-4 colors and stick to those colors. Earth-tones (like browns and greys) do not count; they can work with almost anything. While it’s true that some peacocks like to blind us with the audacity of their outfits, those of us willing to play the long game will make a brand out of what we wear.
Peacocks aren’t a random assortment of the rainbow, they are gold, blue, purple and green. There are occasional variations, but part of their beauty is in their color palette in addition to the attractiveness of the pattern.
Adapt To The Seasons
You should never lose your peacocking spirit, but dial down the brightness during the winter months. An ugly sweater is great for an ugly sweater party and a regular holiday party and nothing else.
Bright Colors, White, Seersucker, Cotton Ties – You’ll be good from Easter until the first day of fall.
Dark Colors, Corduroy, Knitted Ties – Fall and Winter
Peacocking goes beyond color – it’s about texture and patterns too.
Light Shines Brighter at Night: Contrast
Darkening the clothes around your centerpiece (or lightening with a solid white or pale yellow) will allow them to stand out. Think of a tuxedo: the black jacket and black tie are made more visible by the white shirt between them. Where you place light or dark elements of your outfit will affect the look of your shape, and those ideas apply as equally to a tuxedo as they do your more casual wear.
Want to master the art of contrast? Be sure to hang out near someone who is also peacocking, but in the wrong way. You’ll look measured and even more charming by comparison.
Surprise With Subtlety
A way to memorably stand out is to consistently fashion yourself with a stand-out item. Keep your outfits stylish and clean, and use a badge or another accessory to create some intrigue. A friend wears a peacock feather – it looks cool and is a thing, yaknow?
A peacock always looks beautiful, but it’s that brief flash of magnificence that has given it its reputation. Allow yourself to be known for a moment of magnificence. Peacock subtlety.
Don’t make the same mistakes that I made. Being bold does not mean eschewing all caution. In fact, the opposite is more likely the case.