Think about it; when you call up an image of the rat race in your mind, everyone’s badly dressed, aren’t they? Yet again, the power of sartorial elegance is not to be underestimated, and interesting shirt and tie combinations are key for the refined man who wishes to set himself apart.
In our guide to shirt and tie combinations below we have some guidance that will elevate your style. We'll start off with classic solid shirt colour combinations, and then move onto displaying some real sartorial flare with pattern matching combinations.
Solid Colour Shirt Combinations
The basic shirt colours every man needs in his wardrobe is white and sky blue. From this, a whole arrays of classic shirt and tie combinations are possible.
Navy Suit & Tie
Shirt and tie combinations for a navy suit are very adaptable and by far the easiest to put together. Wearing a white shirt underneath means you can be experimental with not only colour, by choosing bold, dramatic colours, but also texture i.e. knitted ties, chequered ties etc. For a timeless look that never goes out of style, pair a navy suit with a white shirt and classic burgundy tie. This is a versatile look that will work for most work and semi formal occasions. As a general rule, most shade variations of a blue suit and red tie will always look striking together.
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If pairing your navy suit with a blue shirt, a popular colour scheme to follow is a monochromatic palette. Choosing a similar tone of blue but with a subtle pattern such as an embroidered spot will add a touch of refinement and consideration to your look as with Ralph Fiennes below. If you’re feeling playful and rebellious, try pairing your blue shirt with a red and black striped tie.
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Grey Suit Tie Combinations
In general, a grey suit looks best paired with a crisp white shirt and a slick black tie, however this is such a common look that it can come across as a bit bland and boring, particularly in the office environment where you may find multiple men wearing exactly the combination. The best way to stand out is to add an injection of colour and pair your grey suit with a pink or green shirt.
Green shirt and tie combinations follow a similar set of rules as both blue and white. Wear a bold dark pattern such as a diagonal stripe or a polka dot. It is especially important to note that it is worth investing in classic, elegant ties that you can use year after year. They will stay in immaculate condition so you can look smart no matter how last minute the occasion. Shirt and tie combinations for a grey suit are just as versatile for a grey suit as a navy suit, as they are adaptable for winter and summer. We recommend sticking to paler shades of grey during warmer months and darker tones of charcoal in woollen mixes for the winter.
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Black Suit Combinations
Wearing a black suit to the office can be quite harsh and unforgiving but it is the perfect colour to wear for formal events and nights out. Shirt and tie combinations for a black suit are vast, but similar to the grey suit we think wearing a white shirt looks best underneath. Try pairing with a tie with a slight metallic sheen to add depth and dimension to your look. Avoid wearing a solid tie with plain shirt, adding a pattern makes your outfit more visually engaging.
Wearing a black shirt with a black tie under a black suit is a daring and perhaps a daunting style move, however with the right textures and combination of accessories it can look sharp and perfectly exquisite. Combine a starched black cotton shirt with a silk tie for a city sleek look. Remember the No.1 rule when it comes to selecting a tie for your shirt is to always select a tie at least one shade darker than your shirt.
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So that covers the basics when it comes to pairing a plain shirt and tie. Now we can take a look at how you pair a tie with a patterned shirt. Many gentleman steer away from wearing patterned ties and shirts as they are concerned about making a fashion faux pau. However for those brave enough to try it, you will elevate yourself above the rest and create your own individual, stand out style. Below we will outline what you need to keep in mind.
Patterned Shirt and Tie Combinations
A dark, solid coloured tie will match well with a chequered or striped shirt. This is one of the easiest and most popular combinations. However, try mixing up the look by pairing a striped shirt with a diagonal striped tie in contrasting colours. Make sure the stripe on your tie is larger and colours are dominant on the tie rather than the shirt.
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A chequered print tie will stand out against a similar chequered shirt as long as the print is larger on your tie. Once again, make sure the dominating colour or print is on the tie to create a complimenting yet contrasting look. An important tip to note is smaller prints should always sit closer to the body. Otherwise, not only will larger prints draw attention to your chest, making it look larger and out of proportion, the tie will get lost in your torso.
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Make sure your patterns aren’t competing with each other when worn together. A dominant print, such as a paisley, will look best when worn with plain shirt or a subtle micro-check shirt in a light blue or pink. Wearing a shirt with a micro-check also looks good with bold diagonal stripe. For example, pairing a light blue chequered shirt with a navy blue and sea blue tie is a smart, yet subtle and considered look.
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If you’re looking to wear a polka dot tie, try pairing with a coloured shirt, lighter than your tie. If you’re looking to be more adventurous, you could try experimenting with a chequered shirt underneath a polka dot. Complimenting patterns create depth and interest to a man’s outfit. However, the main thing to keep in mind is ensuring you don’t wear patterns that are the same size as this will look too busy and can often create an optical illusion for others that should be admiring your sense of style, not being distracted by it.
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A gingham-chequered shirt looks smart yet fun and works with a skinny striped tie for sporty look. Moreover, try wearing a knitted stripe tie to add texture to your favourite outfits. Styling your shirt in this manner is perhaps more for the fashion risk takers but we can’t help but think there should be more of them out there.
Shirt and Tie Sets
In a word: No. If you take anything away from this article, please stay away from shirt and tie sets, especially those that also include a pocket square. As the legendary fashion editor G. Bruce Boyer said so memorably, “The style of studied nonchalance is the psychological triumph of grace over order,” and sets certainly do not have much airy ease to them.
Maximum Number of Colours
It is important to mention that with all the looks above, stick to a maximum of 3 main colours between the shirt and tie. Avoid overcomplicating each of the looks; start simple to keep each look tasteful and elegant.
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Updated: 18 May, 2016