Men’s Shirt Pattern Guide | Different Types Of Shirt Patterns

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

In this detailed guide, we cover the different types of shirt patterns, along with how to match ties to them.

So the time has come. You’re set for your big day. You’re gearing up for your all important presentation. Deck slides. Check. Laptop full prepared. Check. Salient points that need to be addressed during said meeting. Check. Heck, you’ve even got your suit all laid out – sheen and all – and ready to go. You’re sleek dark brown oxford dress shoes have been exhaustively polished for extra refinement  – to pair perfectly with that windowpane navy suit.

Except there’s one glaring omission. You can’t quite figure out which shirt you should pair with this suit (and subsequently tie!). Do you opt for a solid? Maybe that appears too conservative. Or a finely striped shirt – pattern clashing issues – perhaps? How about a polka dot or microcheckered shirt. As you rummage through your wardrobe and you feel your plethora of options infusing you with increasing levels of anxiety, you decide to take a breather. After all, choosing the correct shirt is in and of itself a hard day’s work!

In this dress shirt pattern guide, we will cover dress shirt options that are available, along with delving into how to match ties to these shirts!

Striped Dress Shirts

As the name suggests, these shirts typically comprise of vertical stripes running the length of the shirt. Truly tried and tested in the men’s wear space, striped shirts have been a wardrobe staple for decades. While some dress shirts feature thicker vertical stripes, others are comprised of a thinner variation. Regardless of width, vertical striped shirts are always equally striped, resulting in a uniform, cohesive appearance.

When opting for a striped dress shirt, it is best to go for a shirt that is two tone (i.e has a two color sequence).

Striped dress shirts with multiple colors can prove problematic and result in a dress shirt that appears too loud, dramatic & ultimately jarring.

Blue Striped Shirt & Regimental Striped Silk Tie

A light blue & white striped shirt paired exquisitely with The Dark Knot’s Canterbury Regimental Navy / Red Silk Tie.

The Dark Knot Style Tip: When pairing tie patterns to your dress shirts, we advocate highlighting pattern proportion more so than pattern differences. As can be read with this article, pattern proportion differences are the critical component of tie and shirt matching. Scale of pattern, versus differences in pattern, matter more. Therefore, a wider spaced polka dot silk tie will pair perfectly with a finely striped shirt, whereas a finely striped tie will clash with the same shirt. Where pattern proportion & pattern variation are available, you can go with either. In the example below, The Dark Knot’s widely striped Canterbury Regimental Navy / Red Silk tie pops off perfectly against this finely striped dress shirt.

Plaid Dress Shirts

Given that Plaid Dress Shirts have been all the rage in recent years, we think they deserve a high spot on this list. However, it is important to note that while plaid is often associated with flannel shirts, we are strictly referring to plaid patterns in a dress shirt capacity here.

Blue & Pink Plaid Dress Shirt

An exquisite blue & pink men’s plaid dress shirt. Courtesy of

Plaid refers to a checkered like dress shirt pattern consisting of horizontal and vertical lines that intersect with each other – to often form squares and rectangles that are not always the same size. Hence, this dress shirt pattern isn’t necessarily uniform throughout. While this can result in interesting and often times appealing aesthetic, it does make tie matching particularly difficult.

Plaid Dress Shirt patterns always have three or more colors, resulting in a more colorful, albeit louder look.

The Dark Knot Style Tip: Given that plaid patterns, as mentioned above, are not uniform in nature, we suggest pairing solid silk ties or a very widely spaced paisley tie. In most instances, we would strongly advocate for solid silk ties so as to avoid any jarring look resulting from severe pattern clashing! For plaid dress shirts with wider spacing, as they often are, we suggest pairing them with either a solid or micropatterned tie, allowing for a smaller scaled tie pattern to pop off perfectly against a larger scaled plaid patterned shirt.

 Plaid Dress Shirt & Pin Dot Tie

A plaid dress shirt paired perfectly with a smaller scaled, pin dotted tie. Courtesy of

Checkered Dress Shirts

Contrary to plaid dress shirts, checkered dress shirts are bi-tonal (two colors), comprising of symmetrical squares. Checkered dress shirts have become increasingly popular in recent years given that they can be worn to a range of occasions, and depending on the size of the checks, can also be incredibly versatile.

It is for this reason that we are strong supporters of microcheckered dress shirts. These shirts, as the name implies, comprise of a smaller checkered pattern that appear subtle from afar, but up close, are great for mixing and matching of tie patterns. This versatility allows microcheckered dress shirts to be worn out casually on an evening out, when attending a wedding reception, or when at a meeting / presentation!

Navy & Turquoise Geometric Foulard Tie & Checkered Dress Shirt

The Dark Knot’s Berkshire Abstract Navy / Turquoise Silk Tie pops off perfectly against this light blue & white microcheckered shirt!

The Dark Knot Style Tip: Given the inherent characteristics of a microcheckered dress shirt, we suggest wearing these, especially when looking to pair a necktie. Given that we have mentioned above, we would once again strongly advocate seeking out pattern proportion differences, versus pattern variation. Hence, a larger spaced geometric foulard, polka dot or paisley tie would pair exquisitely with a microcheckered dress shirt!

Silk Ties | Neckties | Extra Long Ties

Polka Dot Dress Shirts 

Polka Dot Dress Shirts, as the name suggests, implies a two tonal dotted sequence. Hence, a singular colored (most often) dotted sequence is pitted against a solid colored background. Examples could include a navy & white polka dot dress shirt, or an olive green & brown polka dotted dress shirt.

Polka Dot Dress Shirts

Given the inherently playful nature of polka dot shirts, they are best reserved for an evening out! Courtesy of

Given that polka dot dress shirts are inherently more playful, we suggest wearing polka dot shirts on date night, or on an evening out with friends.

The Dark Knot Styling Tip: Given that polka dot dress shirts are intrinsically more colorful, playful and more widely spaced apart, we suggest only pairing them with a knitted tie.  A solid knitted tie and polka dot dress shirt would pair perfectly.

Houndstooth Dress Shirts 

Houndstooth dress shirts comprise of a broken checkered pattern, not featuring either squares or rectangles. Houndstooth, also known as dogs tooth, is a dual colored pattern characterized by light and dark solid checks alternating with light and dark diagonally striped checks. If that sound’s like some psychedelic induced talk, please refer to the image below. I for one, couldn’t have understood what I just wrote!

Blue & White Houndstooth Dress Shirt

Courtesy of

Given that a houndstooth dress shirt feels more abstract than checkered, and ultimately more fashion forward, we feel that these dress shirts are best worn with a sports jacket on an evening out, or in a more business casual capacity on an evening out.

If choosing to opt for a tie and shirt pairing with your houndstooth dress shirts, we recommend pairing a larger scaled patterned tie against your houndstooth dress shirt, helping create an adequate level of contrast.

Blue & White Houndstooth Checkered Shirt & Blue Floral Tie

A light blue houndstooth dress shirt exquisitely paired with a larger patterned floral silk tie. Courtesy of

Tropical / Floral Dress Shirts

Tropical / Floral Dress Shirts don’t have to necessarily refer to oversized Hawaiian shirts of the same moniker. Subtler tropical or floral patterned dress shirts are ideal for situations where you want to dress dapper, but with a bit more flair. Whether you are dressing up for a summer date, an evening out with friends or your next beach wedding reception, a floral patterned shirt could definitely do the trick!

Floral Dress Shirt & Pocket Square

Floral Dress Shirts look best with a sports jacket and pocket square! Courtesy of

The Dark Knot Styling Tip: Given the more casual nature of these dress shirts, we suggest pairing these with a sports jacket and a pocket square for a more optimal look!

Solid Dress Shirts

Alas, we have left the most obvious shirt pattern for last, given, that technically, it’s not a dress shirt pattern!

Solid White & Blue Dress Shirts have been a men’s wardrobe staple for time immemorial, and nothing pairs more classically with a navy or charcoal grey suit. If you are looking for a clean, debonair look with understated elegance, pair your solid white dress shirts with a navy suit and a burgundy tie!

Solid White Dress Shirt & Burgundy Polka Dot Silk Tie

The Dark Knot’s Newport Dots Burgundy / Silver Silk tie stands out exquisitely against this solid white dress shirt, creating a clean, debonair look!

Whether you are looking to dress dapper for daily work, an important presentation or your next wedding reception, these workhorse shirts will ensure that you are always looking like you’re dressed to the nines.  

The Dark Knot Styling Tip: Given that pattern matching ceases to be an issue with solid shirts, we’ll turn our attention to color pairing. While a burgundy, navy or even purple tie can work exquisitely with a white dress shirt, we suggest starting off with a navy tie against a light blue shirt if you’re just getting your sartorial journey started. A monochromatic sequence featuring a navy tie pitted against a light blue shirt results in a seamless, dapper look. For looks with more nuance, opt for an olive green or a purple tie, resulting in cooler colors being paired together for a familiar, yet refined look. For bolder looks, we would advocate going for a burgundy tie. Light blue shirts & burgundy tie pairings are a time tested combination – that will work impeccably, whether you’re dressing for daily work, an important meeting, your next presentation or a wedding reception!

Navy & Brown Geometric Foulard Silk Tie & Solid Light Blue Dress Shirt

The Dark Knot’s Lexington Foulard Navy / Brown Foulard Silk Tie pops off perfectly against this light blue shirt, resulting in a seamless, monochromatic look.

And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have writing it!

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