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How to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day — style tips you need to look your best

Your St. Patrick's Day style guide

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, kidnapped and brought to the island as an enslaved person at 16. He eventually escaped but returned later and is believed to have brought Christianity with him. One thousand years later, he is still celebrated on St. Patrick’s Day, the accepted date of his death, March 17. And how do we celebrate it? By wearing the color green on St. Patrick’s Day, of course. Wearing the color symbolizes the patriotism of the entire island.

Now, whether you are Irish or not, you can show your support for the island by donning green on St. Patty’s Day. However, that doesn’t mean you have to go all out and look like you jumped right off the box of Lucky Charms. Here are a few tips to help you celebrate the patron saint of Ireland without sacrificing looking fantastic.

Barney Stinson in green suit
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Keep it simple

Here is the truth, green is a color that can be tricky if you don’t do it right. The green family has a broad spectrum of hues; from yellow-green pastels and citrus hues to Earth and gem-toned emeralds and forest, greens can evoke all sorts of feelings and ideas. Where you live can determine which of these spectral ends you should focus on to ensure you look your best throughout the day. 

If you live in an area where March 17th is a warm day most of the time and spring has sprung most years, then the brighter colors will suit you best. If you are unfortunate to need snow shovels, coats, and scarves still, then the earthy tones or the gemstone colors can help distract you from the fact that spring feels months away. 

Keep it subtle

The next thing to remember now that you have figured out which hue you will go with is to work it into your outfit. In Season 3, Episode 12 of How I Met Your Mother, the always suited up Barney Stinson dons his special St. Patrick’s Day suit. To the delight of all of us fans, his wick-awesome St. Patty’s Day threads were an in-your-face green color, and it was a full suit. The pants and jacket stole the show, which is typically what Barney does. 

In truth, most of us can’t pull off wearing an entire suit of bright green. Therefore, it is best to work it subtly with a more toned-down outfit. If you think about the color wheel, the colors that complement it the most are on either side of the green on the wheel, yellows and blues. If you are going with the springtime greens, then opt for muted yellows to complement (be sure not to go too bright on both, or you’ll look like a Sprite can). If you are electing to go with the Earth or gemstone hues, try pairing it with browns (that’s what the Earth is made of, after all, right?

Keep it classy

The best way for you to keep your greens classy is to let them speak for themselves. If you try to stack your hues on top of each other, that’s when you start looking like a leprechaun, and you can expect a healthy dose of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow jokes. Instead, add classy items in just the right hues. Here is an excellent sample idea for each of the possible weather-focused outfits. 

man in green pants and navy blazer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you haven’t been in a Ralph Lauren store lately, check out the opportunity to pick up some of their signature green chinos. While you can wear them any time of the year, they work great on St. Patrick’s Day when paired with a navy sportcoat (complimenting colors on the color wheel, your high school art teacher would be proud!). If this feels too formal for your festivities, you can ditch the jacket and tie but stick with the white top with a polo or button-up.

Man in tweed olive sportcoat
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When you live in the north (or anywhere else that spring hasn’t melted off the last of the snow), then heavier and more winter-focused outfits are in order. Tweed is one of the best options you can get. And while olive may not be in your regular rotation, this is the day to let it shine. If you need something slightly more elevated, a tweed sport coat in olive will do nicely. Stick to brown tones as he does above, and you will look fantastic in what we hope will be your winter’s last party.

You may be wondering why you should go all out to help another country celebrate the patron saint of the Irish homeland, and there are a few great reasons. The first is so you don’t end up pinched. The second is it is the same as wearing red, white, and blue in July. Just like we’re all Americans on July 4, anyone who wants to wear these green hues proves that on March 17, everyone can feel a bit Irish. When in doubt — pick out a St. Patrick’s day statement piece you can wear all year long.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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