How to Perfectly Match Your Shirts, Suits, and Ties

by Slaters Style  February 8th, 2021

 

Suits come in all shapes and sizes… and colours, and patterns, and shades too, come to think of it. In fact, there’s a lot to think about when choosing a suit — and that’s before you even consider what shirt or tie to wear alongside it.

So how do you match your suit to your shirt and tie?

Although trends come and go, there are certain staples when it comes to choosing a suit that has stood the test of time. In this guide, we’ve outlined how to create a look that will always come out on top.

How to use the colour wheel

 

 

Colour theory is more than just a tool for artists. It can (and should) be used when putting together an outfit to create a winning combination. By using the colour wheel as a starting point, you can see which colours work well together and which should be avoided.

 

As you have three potential colours to play with — your shirt, tie and suit — you still have the freedom to be creative, the colour wheel simply gives you a helpful starting point.

 

There are three main ways you can implement colour theory to help you mix and match your clothing:

Method 1: Monochromatic

You’ve probably already heard the term ‘monochrome’ before; relating to a single colour throughout. Rather than picking and choosing colours, this approach makes use of a range of tones to differentiate between each article of clothing.

 

This conservative combination is the easiest way to implement colour theory and creates a foolproof, harmonious look. As long as each item is its own distinct shade, you can’t go wrong.

Method 2: Complementary

Complementary colour schemes are the most striking. They consist of colours that sit opposite one another on the colour wheel, like blue and orange or red and green. These colour combinations provide high contrast and appear more prominent.

 

Take caution when choosing this approach. Bold tones can be too jarring when used together. A good approach is to choose a single bold colour choice with more muted accent colours.

Method 3: Analogous

This option uses colours that sit adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. This offers more versatility intones, yet must be used carefully to avoid being overwhelming.

 

Experiment with strong traditional colours and those that appear next to it to strike the right balance. For example, if you have a navy suit as your base colour, pair it with a sky-blue shirt and a purple tie. This combo utilises analogous colour schemes in a way that creates a sophisticated, well-put-together finish.

Finding the right tie

As well as finding the right colour palette, choosing the right tie can make or break the look of your outfit. When picking a tie to wear, you want to create another level of contrast between the shirt and suit. As we’ve already discussed, the colour of your tie is crucial, as is the pattern.

 

Here are some things to consider when deciding on a pattern for your tie.

Matching pattern

If you’re wearing a patterned shirt, opting for a tie that echoes the design is a great way to bring an outfit together.

 

The trick is to emphasise the pattern of one item, not both. If, for instance, you’re wearing a thinly striped shirt, a tie with thick, bold stripes will add a level of consistency without detracting from any particular piece of clothing.

 

The best part is that it works both ways, so a tie with a small checked pattern complements a shirt featuring larger checks.

Contrasting pattern

Taking a different route, a contrasting tie pattern can help to make it pop as part of your ensemble. A polka dot tie accompanying a striped shirt is a great example of how different patterns work strongly together.

 

If this is the avenue you’re taking, however, it’s best to choose a bigger pattern for your tie and a smaller one for the shirt. This way, you draw attention to the tie and capitalise on the contrasting styles.

Solid tie

If, on the other hand, you prefer to draw attention to your shirt, a solid tie is a conservative way to pull focus to where it needs to be. By correctly using colour theory, you can choose a solid tie that fits in with the palette of your outfit and choose a statement shirt with a bolder pattern like paisley.

 

Suits to wear with a white shirt

White shirts are often the number one choice for many men when putting together an outfit and for good reason. It acts as a clean slate that can be combined with almost any colour and allows you to draw focus to ties.

 

For those who are looking for easy clothing combinations, white is the obvious choice.

Combo 1: Black suit with a white shirt

The most timeless suit combination, a white shirt is a must if you’re wearing a black suit. This look is best suited to a monochromatic colour palette to create a refined, sophisticated look.

 

Although a black tie is a perfectly fine addition, you can push the boat out a little to add some tonal variations — think grey, silver or even cream ties.

Combo 2: Grey suit with a white shirt

Another classic combination, grey suits always look professional when paired with a crisp white shirt. As grey and white create a colder colour palette, adding splashes of warmer tones is a really effective way to make the look stand out. Choose a tie in a rich red like burgundy or oxblood, or pull out all the stops and get a matching pocket square.

Combo 3: Navy suit with a white shirt

Navy is the go-to colour for many modern men when choosing a suit. This versatile colour pairs well with a range of different tones and shades, making it a great base colour when putting a suit together. By leaning towards a white shirt, you have more freedom in tie options to help add a pop colour. Patterns such as ginghams and tartans work well at drawing the eye, or a bright, solid colour like grass green provides a crisp, clean aesthetic.

 

Combo 4: Tan suit with a white shirt

A summer favourite, tan suits create warm tones. The best way to complement this style is to play with different shades of blue. Everything from powder blue to deep navy pairs nicely with tan, as it’s the splash of cold colours that create the desired effect. As tan suits are fairly neutral, especially with a white shirt, this is also a great opportunity to get creative with bolder tie patterns to act as a stand out piece.

Suits to wear with a blue shirt

After the classic white shirt, blue is one of the most versatile colours you can experiment with. Blue shirts pair well with a range of colours, yet retain a level of formality and sophistication that gives you more opportunities to wear them. If you’re looking for a modern, slick look, blue is a top contender.

Combo 1: Grey suit with a blue shirt

When combining blue with grey, you’ll want to stick with lighter shades — that means powder blue and slate grey. You always want to ensure your tie is darker than your shirt, too, so try a deep navy to distinguish between your shirt and tie. This is a great option as it’s still in the same colour family but will stand out as a focal point in your outfit.

Combo 2: Navy suit with a blue shirt

Blue is the ultimate colour for a polished monochromatic outfit. However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of your clothing all blending into a single shade. The trick is to diversify your outfit.  Items like a boldly patterned tie help each piece of clothing stand apart while still working together as a cohesive whole.

 

Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to add another colour into the mix — dark reds are always a safe winner.

Combo 3: Tan suit with a blue shirt

A cool blue can work nicely with the contrasting warm tones of a tan suit. However, as you’ll be working with contrasting tones, it’s best to act more restraint and stick to the classics so you don’t overpower your look. A dark red tie is a perfect way to pull the outfit together, especially when choosing a patterned tie to add a bolder element.

Suits to wear with a pink shirt

Pink shirts offer a breath of fresh air to a suit wardrobe without being too garish. Just make sure to choose a shade that’s not overly pigmented, as they can become overwhelming and cause you to lose the sophisticated look you’re aiming for. Lighter, pastel tones are what you need to create interesting yet professional-looking combinations.

Combo 1: Navy suit with a pink shirt

A pink shirt worn with a navy suit is one of the most successful uses of analogous colour theory when putting together a suit. It allows you to put more attention into your tie, which will almost always work if you stick to traditional colours and ensure it’s darker than your shirt.

 

If you want to play it safe, a matching navy tie offers outfit coordination and allows you to get creative with textured materials to add some diversity.

Combo 2: Grey suit with a pink shirt

Grey and pink is a more daring combination of colour but can look exceptional if pulled off well. The key thing to consider when pairing a pink shirt with a grey suit is that tailoring is crucial. If either is ill-fitting, you’ll lose the modern look that this colour coordination can offer. To add a complementary tie into the mix, deep purples or violets help to elevate your style.

Combo 3: Tan suit with a pink shirt

Tan and pink play off each other's warm tones to create a striking look that poses style. You can get away with pulling off stronger tones of pink in a tan suit, yet lighter shades will still look more sophisticated. Earthy brown tones are a good tie option with this outfit, as they will correspond nicely with the neutral tan of the suit without adding a colour that will compete with the pink of your shirt.

Find a style that suits your taste

Now that you know what colours work together and what you’re best avoiding, put your new-found knowledge to the test. At Slater Menswear, we have a huge selection of men’s suits, shirts, and ties for you to choose from. Browse different colours, tones, and textures to find a winning combination to help you stand out from the crowd.

 

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