Learning how to match ties to your shirts is an indispensable skill that will serve you well, whether you are dressing for an interview or a wedding reception! In this detailed guide to shirt & tie combinations, we delve into color theory, pattern matching principles and shirt & tie combinations based on shirt colors, patterns and the type of occasion that you are dressing up for, that will have you looking dressed to the nines!
The excitement is palpable. Magnifies even, as the occasion you are dressing up for quickly approaches. Going through your obligatory checklist helps you feel prepared. Stunning, bespoke fitted suit. Check. Crisp dress shirt to go with said article of clothing. Check. Well fitted trousers that make you look like you’ve been poured into your suit. Check indeed. Heck, you’ve even got a brand spanking new pair of cufflinks to go with. Until suddenly, you start quickly rummaging through your wardrobe, looking for the perfect tie that will adorn that ever so exquisitely manufactured dress shirt. Excitement quickly turns into fear, and ultimately despair. Who knew the desire to dress dapper could prove to be so problematic.
And that too, at seemingly the final hurdle. Fret not, with this detailed guide, we will cover shirt & tie combinations so that you are always dressed to the nines, and more importantly, not frantically searching for that perfect, elusive necktie at the very last minute.
Before delving into shirt & tie combinations that work, an examination of color theory will help us navigating combinations that work best significantly easier.
Color Wheels are largely divided into two camps. Warm and Cool colors. Warm colors exhibit vibrance, such as orange, red and yellow. Cool colors represent a more calming influence, such as blue, purple & green.
The concept of a color wheel helps us to harmonize colors – hence creating a balanced look. What creates ideal color harmony is a situation is pitting a warm color against a cool color – hence helping create visual contrast and a stronger element of pop – a spectacle we would all like to achieve when pairing that perfect shir & tie combination!
However, balancing warm and cool colors may be for those of you who are bolder in your approach and /or more sartorially inclined. In fact, not balancing warm and cool colors can work effectively in a more understated way – creating an elegant look that doesn’t necessarily have the louder connotations associated with balancing warm and cool colors.
Below, we will examine color schemes that you can employ when matching ties to your shirts, from more conservative options to outright bolder combinations using the most extreme parts of the color wheel!
Matching Tie Colors To Shirts
Monochromatic Color Scheme
Call this your introduction to employing color variation within your ensembles. However, it is important to note that while this may be the first step towards mixing and matching colors, it can often be viewed as one of the most elegant / understated.
A monochromatic color scheme helps match darker variants of a color to lighter variants. A darker variant, known as a shade, refers to a color on the color wheel + black e.g blue + black = navy.
Hence, a navy tie against a lighter blue shirt, or a burgundy tie against a lighter pink shirt would work perfectly. These combinations will allow you to look elegant and sophisticated, without taking you out of your comfort zone.
A Navy Tie against a lighter blue shirt as part of a monochromatic color sequence. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Exeter Paisley Blue / Brown Silk Tie.
A monochromatic color scheme is a safe and effortless way to look dapper and can be utilized in a variety of settings, including work, presentations and meetings to more formal social settings such as a wedding.
Neutral Color Scheme
Neutral Color schemes, as the name implies, involve using neutral colored ties such as grey or brown against your shirts. We would consider grey to be a true neutral, as these can be paired with white, blue, pink, green or even lilac shirts.
A neutral, brown grenadine silk tie sits perfectly against this crisp white shirt. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Domaso Grenadine Brown Silk Tie.
Brown ties, however, would work best with white, blue or green shirts, but we would generally avoid wearing them with other pastel colors.
Other examples of neutral colors include ivory or cream – though these are less popular than the aforementioned ones, they can work with a range of shirt and suit colors given the lack of saturation with these hues!
Analogous Color Scheme
The next progressive step for aspiring dapper gentlemen, is an analogous color scheme that is one step bolder than using a monochromatic color sequence. Analogous color schemes involve choosing colors that are adjacent to reach other on the color wheel.
Hence, as opposed to harmonizing warmer and cool colors as discussed at the start of this section, analogous color schemes generally involve pairing cooler colors – as pairing warmer colors could prove to be problematic!
A light bule shirt & purple tie make for a stunning combination! Courtesy of www.gentlemansgazette.com
Examples of an analogous color scheme involve pairing a purple tie with a lighter blue shirt, or an olive green tie with a blue shirt. Analogous color schemes, alternatively known as familiar color schemes, are generally easy on the eyes and less dramatic than triadic or complementary color schemes which entail pairing warmer and cooler colors together.
Triadic Color Schemes
A triadic color scheme refers to choosing colors that form a triangle along the color wheel. At last, we have a color scheme that involves harmonizing color by balancing warmer and cooler colors!
Hence, triadic color schemes include blue, red & yellow, or alternatively, purple, orange & green. While both of these color schemes involve both warm & cool colors, the contrast is not as strong as with a complementary color scheme (which involves pairing colors with its strongest counterpoint on the color wheel).
Few combinations are as sassy as a burgundy tie and light blue shirt. Courtesy of www.pinterest.co.uk
Triadic color pairing allow for creating a strong, balanced and harmonized look that is great way to introduce color variation into your attire! For almost all gentlemen, triadic colors are something that they have experimented with in the past.
This is why, almost instinctively, a red or burgundy tie looks great against a lighter blue shirt. Similarly, a darker, mustard yellow tie will pop off exquisitely against a lighter blue shirt.
A triadic color scheme is a highly professional, yet injects your attire with enough personality to really allow you to stand out!
The Dark Knot’s Details: A triadic color scheme doesn’t have to just entail pairing two colors that are directly on the same triangle. For variation, utilizing shades of triadic color works extremely well – if not better. Hence, a light blue shirt with a burgundy tie works arguably more effectively than a light blue shirt with a red tie, given that it is a more elegant, more subtle look than the bright red / blue juxtaposition would offer. Similarly, a darker mustard yellow tie provides for a far more refined variation of the bright yellow / light blue shirt combination.
Complementary Color Schemes
A complementary color scheme involves choosing colors that are directly across either from the color wheel, resulting in a color combination that most starkly balances warm and cool colors.
Hence, a blue’s direct contrasting color is orange, red’s complementary color is green and yellow’s complementary color is purple. Complementary colors therefore form the strongest level of contrast.
Now that’s a stunning combination that you don’t see too often! An olive green tie sits absolutely exquisitely against this finely striped purple shirt! Courtesy of www.bows-n-ties.tumblr.com
Complementary colors are best utilized in more social settings, as their boldness may appear inappropriate for the work place or more professional settings.
Matching Tie Patterns To Shirts
Ahhhh, the enigma that is matching tie patterns to your shirts! While conventional wisdom may hold that the solving of a rubik’s cube may be prove to be an easier feat, conventional wisdom shall be proven to be incorrect.
Similar to matching tie colors, you want your tie pattern to create an element of contrast with the shirt that you are wearing. As a general rule of thumb, when first experimenting with your tie game, avoid mixing and matching three patterns, as it could prove to be sensory overload.
The most important element of matching tie patterns to your shirts is that of Pattern Proportion. Yes, that was not a typo, and capitalized with intent so as to drive home the point! While most people tend to think in differences in pattern, design proportion is of critical importance. For example, a widely striped tie will pop off perfectly against a narrowly striped shirt, creating the perfect level of contrast.
Contrary to popular opinion, pattern variation is NOT as important as pattern proportion. Hence, this widely striped tie pairs stunning well with a finely striped light blue shirt. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Canterbury Regimental Navy / Red Striped Silk Tie.
A medium spaced polka dot tie will not do much good against a moderately spaced checkered shirt pattern, even though the patterns are different. The similarity in pattern spacing will create a visually jarring look, detracting people from actually looking at you when trying to converse!
However, a larger spaced polka dot tie, for example, would pair perfectly with a microcheckered shirt. The larger pattern spacing within the polka dot tie will allow it to pop off perfectly against a microcheckered shirt, creating that perfect level of contrast.
Therefore, to summarize pattern matching of your ties to your shirts:
- Pattern proportion is of critical importance. What is most important is picking a tie design with sufficiently larger spacing than the shirt pattern, helping to create that perfect level of contrast
- Differences in tie and shirt patterns can work very effectively, provided that pattern spacing has been adhered to!
Now that we’ve established color & pattern theory, we can use this knowledge base to understand which shirt & tie combinations will work best!
A solid white shirt often carries more formal or business connotations – or heck, even a wedding reception. As such, with a solid white shirt, we would opt for a solid or patterned navy or burgundy tie – allowing yourself to maintain that polished, ever so professional look.
A burgundy tie and white shirt pairing provides for a classic, fail safe combination that will always have you looking dressed to the nines. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Berkshire Abstract Burgundy / Blue Silk Tie.
For finely striped or checkered white shirts, we suggest opting for a solid, polka dot or paisley navy or burgundy tie for maximum effect!
Light Blue Shirts & Tie Combinations
Blue Shirt & Tie Color Considerations
Light Blue Shirts, a classic staple in every discerning gentleman’s wardrobe, are the perfect canvas upon which to experiment with your tie game.
Monochromatic Color Scheme - Solid light blue shirts can work fantastically with a navy tie in a formal setting, lending to an elegant, monochromatic look.
A light blue shirt & navy tie. The perfect monochromatic sequence! Featuring The Dark Knot’s Domaso Grenadine Navy Silk Tie.
Analogous / Similar Color Scheme - For something with slightly more pop but still working with a blend of two cooler colors on the color wheel, opt for a mid or darker purple tie. A mid purple will provide more of an oomph factor, while a darker purple tie will create a refined, elegant look without the pageantry of a brighter variant.
A light blue shirt and purple tie form part of a similar color scheme, making for the ultimate combination. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
If you are looking to balance your light blue shirt with another cooler color, an olive green tie is your best option. Whether its for daily work or a wedding reception where you are looking for a sophisticated, yet understated aesthetic, an olive green tie & light blue shirt will offer up the perfect visual treat!
A green tie sits crisply against a light blue shirt! Courtesy of www.lookastic.com
Triadic Color Scheme - If you are looking to dress more boldly, a burgundy tie will contrast perfectly with a light blue shirt, allowing for a perfect balance of warm and cool colors. This will work particularly well in an office setting, or for that all important meeting or presentation.
A light blue shirt & burgundy tie. The epitome of contrast. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
If you are truly seeking out that power look, we suggest going with a red tie. While this may seem loud but many people’s standards, it will allow you to project a sense of authority and power. Hence, a red tie should be worn with a certain level of caution!
Complementary Color Scheme - If you do insist on wearing an orange tie – complementary color scheme), we suggest choosing a burnt orange tie for a bold, but still relatively muted look as opposed to a brighter orange tie, which could, quite advertently, emphasize the notion of being a ‘legend in one’s own eyes’!
While a blue shirt & orange tie combination may appear too strong of a combination given that the two colors form part of a complementary color sequence, a burnt orange tie sits perfectly against a lighter blue shirt! The perfect combination. Courtesy of www.askthegentleman.com
Blue Shirt & Tie Pattern Considerations
Looking to pair ties to your patterned blue shirts? If you have elected to go with a finely striped or microcheckered shirt, we suggest a solid, widely striped, polka dot or paisley pattern. Note that smaller striped or foulard (repeating patterns) will not work effectively, creating a jarring look with both shirt and tie patterns clashing.
A blue houndstooth shirt complemented by a burgundy and white polka dot knit tie. As mentioned above, pattern proportion is of critical importance when matching tie patterns to your shirts!
If you are strutting a patterned blue shirt in a more summer-y setting, such as a beach wedding or country club event, we would advocate going with a floral tie! Floral ties are often a great way to balance out pattern matching, with larger spaced floral patterns popping off perfectly against a narrowly spaced, more intricately held shirt pattern.
While Floral Silk Ties can come in the silk variety, they often come in linen, cotton or polyester variations – which are especially apt for more casual settings!
A floral tie pops off perfectly against a finely striped blue & white shirt. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
To view The Dark Knot’s Floral Tie Collection, please click here.
The Dark Knot Bottom Line: When pairing your blue shirts for more formal occasions, we would suggest seeking out a navy blue or burgundy tie. For the ultimate power statement, and at your own risk, you can opt for a red tie! For slightly less formal settings, a darker purple or green tie could work extremely well, creating a soothing, look. Alternatively, you can opt for something with more pop, albeit slightly muted, with a burnt orange tie. When choosing to pair a tie against a patterned blue shirt, we suggest going with a solid, widely striped, polka , paisley or floral tie!
Light Pink Shirts & Tie Combinations
Pink Shirt & Tie Color Considerations
Yes, real men do indeed wear pink. Light pink shirts are highly versatile, allowing them to be worn across a range of functions, from daily work, to important meetings / presentations and wedding receptions!
Monochromatic Color Scheme - Few things scream refined dapper like a burgundy tie paired with a lighter pink shirt. Providing for the perfect monochromatic sequence, a darker burgundy tie will pair stunningly well with a lighter pink shirt.
A light pink shirt and burgundy tie creates a seamless, monochromatic look. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Similar / Analogous Color Scheme - If you are looking for a seamless look with some variation, we suggest going for a purple tie. Similar colors to pink, as alluded to by the color wheel, include purple – and a darker purple tie will pop off just perfectly against that crisp, pink shirt. This particular combination will work exceptionally well at a wedding reception!
A darker purple tie pops off perfectly against this lighter pink shirt. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Triadic Color Scheme - Seeking out a bolder level of contrast? Few combinations attest to a superbly dressed gentleman as a navy tie and pink shirt. While a royal or mid blue tie could do the trick, a navy tie and lighter pink shirt will undoubtedly steal the show.
A light pink shirt and navy tie combination creates an incredibly dapper look! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Complementary Color Scheme - Looking for the ultimate level of contrast? While green sits as a complementary color – pink’s most direct counterpoint on the color wheel, a brighter green tie against a lighter pink shirt may appear too bold – in a similar vein that a bright orange tie doesn’t quite sit with a light blue shirt.
An exquisite combination featuring a light pink shirt and green geometric foulard silk tie. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
However, bring down the bold factor by a couple of notches, and you’ve got a delightful olive green tie and light pink shirt pairing. Now that’s something that we could most definitely live with!
Pink Shirt & Tie Pattern Considerations
If opting for a matching tie with a patterned pink shirt such as a microcheckered design, we suggest going with either a solid, widely striped, polka dot or paisley pattern – especially in more business / formal capacities.
A light pink shirt pairs exquisitely well with a burgundy polka dot silk tie. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
If you are settling on a patterned pink shirt in a more casual setting, such as a beach wedding or country club event, we highly suggest going with a floral tie! Floral ties are often a great way to balance out pattern matching, with larger spaced floral patterns pairing off perfectly against smaller designed shirt patterns.
To view The Dark Knot’s Floral Ties, please click here.
The Dark Knot Bottom Line: If you are looking to strut your stuff with a pink shirt & tie combination in a more formal capacity, we suggest opting for a burgundy or navy tie for that ultimate polished look! For a more casual capacity, opt for a darker purple or olive green tie. Looking to make an impression at a casual setting such as a beach wedding, and you’re wearing a patterned pink shirt? How about a mid or navy blue floral tie!
Lilac Shirt & Tie Combinations
Lilac Shirt & Tie Color Considerations
Oh, so you think you’re fancy now? Fret not, man an aspiring dapper gentleman has dabbled into the land of lavender and lilac, and often come out more inspired, more energetic and more confident with their stylistic choices!
While lilac or lavender may seem like a tricky proposition for most gentleman, it is surprisingly intuitive when worked with through the prism of a color wheel.
Monochromatic Color Scheme - For daily work or important meeting / presentation, few items pair with a lilac shirt as well as a darker purple tie. This perfect, seamless monochromatic sequence creates a striking look that is not only dapper, but extremely original and refreshing.
A lilac shirt and solid purple tie forms a seamless monochromatic aesthetic! Courtesy of www.menswearr.com
Similar / Analogous Color Scheme - Looking for a seamless combination that offers some variety? A lilac shirt with a navy tie offers a familiar, similar look that allows you to blend two cool colors – the perfect pairing without stepping into bolder sartorial land!
Whether you are dressing for an important meeting or a wedding reception, a lilac shirt and mid blue or navy tie will definitely turn heads and leave you as the best dressed man in the room!
A bold but incredibly effective lilac shirt and navy tie combination! Courtesy of www.next.ie
Triadic Color Scheme - Looking for something bolder? While green is part of the triadic sequence with purple, a bolder green tie against a light purple / lilac shirt is going to look flat out clown-ish. However, an olive green tie set against a lilac shirt can definitely come across as interesting – in a good way! An olive green pairing with a lavender shirt lends to an incredibly sophisticated, suave look that will definitely make you come across as a risk taker!
A lilac shirt and green tie yields an absolutely stunning combination! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Complementary Color Scheme - For the purposes of a lilac shirt & tie combination, we will exclude complementary color schemes, given that any shade of yellow with a lilac shirt seems like overkill!
Lilac Shirt & Tie Pattern Considerations
If opting for a patterned lilac shirt & tie combination, we suggest going with a solid, larger foulard design, polka dot or paisley pattern to complement your shirt. A lilac shirt & solid or foulard tie will look especially professional in a more formal capacity, while a polka dot or paisley pattern will work perfectly in a less formal setting!
The Dark Knot Bottom Line: If you decide to go bold with a lilac shirt, a darker purple or navy tie will most certainly do the trick in a formal or wedding reception setting! A complementary color scheme, including an olive green tie / lilac shirt pairing, will definitely turn heads and will have you standing out in a more casual capacity.
Light Green Shirt & Tie Combinations
Green Shirt & Tie Color Considerations
While a light green shirt may appear to be a somewhat staid and boring alternative to its more colorful counterparts above, don’t be mistaken about the allure and professionalism of a green shirt.
From a monochromatic sequence, while not conventionally worn, a darker green tie can pop off elegantly against a lighter green shirt. Because this combination is often overlooked, it is bound to turn heads if pulled off perfectly!
A dapper combination featuring a lighter, finely striped green shirt and a green polka dot tie. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
While we haven’t explored neutral colored shirt and tie combinations with previous color discussions, a green shirt warrants this discussion, as brown ties, given their earth tones, are a perfect complement to a light green shirt! Few combinations are as both elegant and understated as a light green shirt / brown tie combination.
Similar / Analogous Color Scheme – Few combinations work as smoothly as a light green shirt and navy tie. Part of a analogous color sequence, these cooler colors pair exquisitely together, without creating the stronger levels of contrast found in triadic color schemes.
A seamless look featuring a light green shirt and navy & turquoise foulard silk tie. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Berkshire Abstract Navy / Turquoise Silk Tie!
Triadic Color Scheme – Looking for some additional pop with your shirt & tie combination! How about a darker purple tie against a light green shirt. While this may appear as a bold combination, the trick is to opt for a darker purple tie, so as to blunt the overall striking aesthetic, providing a more muted, elegant look.
Complementary Color Scheme – While red, green’s complementary color, may seem like too strong of a shirt & tie combination pairing, a darker variation of red, such as a burgundy tie, could work exquisitely with a lighter green shirt.
Green Shirt & Tie Pattern Considerations
Looking to strut your stuff with a patterned green shirt & tie? We highly advocate opting for a light green shirt & darker green or navy tie for more formal settings, with a navy tie clearly winning by a wide margin. A patterned navy tie against a lighter green patterned shirt will turn heads in any formal capacity. For less formal settings, we would go with a darker green, navy or burgundy paisley or floral pattern!
The Dark Knot Bottom Line: While a green shirt isn’t necessarily for the faint of heart, a brown or navy tie will look especially dapper in a more formal setting. For a more casual capacity, a burgundy tie or a floral / paisley pattern can work particularly well and have you standing out!
And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we have writing it.