When your work attire consists of a never-ending array of suits, shirts, and ties, fashion is forced to take a back seat to formality. After all, how much can you really play around with your outfits if your work uniform is the same each day? Understandably, you need to wear a suit and tie to work, but at least you can play with your dress shirts and ties to liven your look.
Getting creative with your shirt and tie combinations is one of the easiest ways to showcase your style within a more formal environment. Once you mix and match correctly, you may even find that the color combinations brighten your face and mood. Here is your Cheat Sheet guide to the best shirt and tie pairings that even the most stylistically challenged man can master.
Tone on tone
This is one of the easier shirt and tie combinations to pull off, so it’s best to start with this one. GQ expertly shows just how easy it can be to spice up this combo: Simply opt for ties and shirts that are of the same hue, but choose a darker tie shade than your shirt. Try a gray dress shirt with a dark gray, textured tie, or pair a light blue dress shirt with a tie that’s reminiscent of a mid-blue shade of denim. For the ultra-stylish and chic man, try a navy blue dress shirt with a slightly darker navy blue tie.
Keep contrasting colors in mind
When it comes to the shirt and tie combo, it’s easier to pair contrasting colors than it is pair complementary ones, advises FashionBeans. For example, a blue shirt paired with a burgundy tie and a navy suit is a contrasting combination that every man can pull off and look good in. Also, FashionBeans notes that, as a general rule when choosing shirt and tie combinations, your tie should always be a darker shade than your shirt. There are no exceptions to this hard-and-fast rule.
Classic default white
The white dress shirt is versatile and allows you to play around with different tie styles and textures. FashionBeans notes that a white shirt works well no matter what style tie you opt for, whether it’s a preppy stripe, knitted version, or tartan check. If you choose a white dress shirt, just make sure your tie pops. Esquire recommends these tie options and optional cuffs to make your work attire less boring.
Blue and pink is where it’s at
FashionBeans recommends that blue and pink shirts and ties are a great way to show off your matching chops. Here are a few combinations to try with each color of shirt: If you opt for a sky blue dress shirt, try a darker blue or textured blue tie in the same hue family. A navy blue polka dot tie is sure to liven up your outfit, and orange, which is a complementary color, is great to play around with by opting for a burnt orange shade tie.
If you opt for a pink dress shirt, stick to ties in the same hue, but darker — think mauve or purple. This is an undeniably bold and sophisticated look. Another great option is to pair a pink shirt with a navy blue tie, because they’re contrasting colors.
Stripes add interest
This can be a tougher combination to pull off. With a patterned shirt, you have to pay close attention to your tie choice. GQ pairs a sky blue and light orange, vertically-striped shirt with a white collar, and a slightly darker shade of orange tie for a bold, yet understated look. When it comes to the colors you choose to pair with a striped shirt, the same rules apply. Whichever color you choose for your striped shirt, pair it with a tie that either has a complementary or contrasting shade.
If you feel more daring and want to mix patterns, just remember this rule: Always vary the scale and size of the patterns you choose. For example, if you choose a thin-striped shirt, it should be combined with a larger-patterned tie. If you opt for a shirt with a wider stripe (like a butcher’s stripe), it should be paired with a smaller-patterned tie.
Another great tip is to vary the orientation of your stripes when you pair your shirt and tie. For example, if you choose a vertically striped shirt, pair it with a horizontal- or diagonal-striped tie. Don’t forget to have a little fun with paisley prints, polka dots, and geometric patterns too.