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What tie matches which dress shirt?

Many men find it challenging to match their ties to their attire. By following a few simple guidelines and rules on matching clothing, you will find it quite easy to match your neckties to your shirts and suits. For the most part the art of matching a tie to your shirt requires the attention to colors and patterns. Once you understand the guidelines below, you will find it easy to match all your ties in your wardrobe to the right shirt and suit combination.

Rule # 1: Start with the largest piece of clothing, and work your way through to the smallest. So, first pick a suit, then a shirt and last but not least a matching tie.

Usually the larger a piece of clothing, the more expensive it is. Because of this, most men only have two or three suits in their wardrobe. If a suit and tie is part of your daily business attire, it is recommended to have at least three suits. After each wearing, hang your suit and dress pants on a hanger in a well-ventilated area. This will ensure that the clothes stay odor free and the fabric stays straight. Having more than one suit also allows you for a much broader combination of colors and patterns. The first suit a man buys should be solid in color and either dark charcoal or navy. The second suit can be a lighter shade of gray, and for the third suit it is advisable to experiment with different patterns such as pin-stripes, checks, as well s birds-eye and herringbone patterns.

  1. 1.Once again, first pick the largest piece of clothing: Your suit. Let’s start with one of the most classic and most common suit colors: A dark gray suit. Put it on your bed to have a better overview.
  2. 1.Next, take the smaller piece of clothing: Your dress shirt. The best shirt colors to match a dark gray suit are:
    • Light blue
    • White
    • Pink
    • Blue stripes or checkered pattern on white.
    Let's assume you choose a light blue dress shirt to go with your dark gray suit. Take the shirt and place it on your bed overlapping your suit.
  3. 1.Now, lets find a matching tie. Which colors and patterns will go best with your dark gray (suit) and light blue (shirt)? With this basic color combination almost any necktie color will work well. The following necktie colors are best suited: Dark blue, burgundy red, pink, yellow, grayish green, all kinds of striped ties and small patterns. Choose the tie that you like to wear for the day and add it to your shirt and suit on your bed. There you go, the perfect combination!

Rule # 2: Combining patterns: Either solids with patterned pieces, or large with small patterns.

Has this ever happened to you? You see a suit, shirt and tie combination in a display window of a men’s clothing store. The different patterns of stripes and checks look great in the display window. You go in and buy only one of the pieces. Then, when you get home, nothing will match to this piece, and it just won’t look like it did in the store. Well, simply keep these two things in mind:

  1. Patterned with plain pieces
  2. Small patterns with large patterns

Patterned and Plain

Example: You choose a blue pinstripe suit -your patterned piece. Here something plain will match, thus we pick a light blue shirt. Since the suit dominates the whole outfit, you will now go for a plain tie, for example in light red. You have probably seen this combination a hundred times, now you know which principles it follows and why it looks so good!

Small patterns and large patterns combined

Having a closer look at the suit’s stripes, we notice that the space between them is about ½ inch. Thus, the pattern is quite small. Consequently we combine it with a large patterned shirt. Either stripes, with gaps of at least 1½ inches, or - even better – combine striped patterns with square patterns. With the pin-striped blue suit from above, a white dress shirt with blue checkered. According to rule # 1 (patterned combined with plain) we choose a solid color necktie, so it will not get in the way with either the suit or the shirt. And the color? Just as you like. The perfect match for a blue suit and white/blue checked shirt could be a pink or light yellow tie.

Rule # 3: Contrast

Mousy or parrot-style? Best is somewhat in between. Too much harmony can be boring, exaggerated contrasts are too flashy and might scare other people off. Important is the right mixture. Find a contrast of colors that harmonize! Besides colors you can also use different fabric textures and weaves to create more depth on an ensemble.

A few examples: Dark blue suit and a light blue shirt – a harmonious combination. A dark blue tie would be the perfect match but the overall picture would be less thrilling. A fresh orange will make the right pinch of contrast on the other hand.

Dark blue suit and white shirt: This already makes a good contrast. When you pick a bright red tie, the overall picture will take the direction of a carnival dress. It is more pleasant for the eye if you would pick a soft pink, light blue, or light green necktie. Finding the right colors also depends on your complexion. The pale, northern European, should stick with light blue colors. People with light complexion, and red hair look best in green shades. The slightly darker skin tones can wear any color well.

A Final Note on Matching Ties

Following the tips above will guarantee that you will always be well dressed regardless of how large your wardrobe is. If you are on a budget then I recommend you have a larger selection of ties and other accessories which cost much less than suits and/or dress shirts. Other great accessories are belts, cufflinks, watches, and pocket squares. Even the type of pocket square fold you choose can have a large effect on the overall look. For more information we suggest you look at our guide on How to Fold a Pocket Square

Tie-Knots.org – a website dedicated to teach men how to tie a tie, how to tie a bow tie, dress code tips, matching ties, and much more. It is a site made for the well dressed gentleman.