Pairing shirt and ties harmoniously isn’t rocket science, but that’s not to say that all men get it right. Thankfully, combining shirt and ties is child’s play, once you master the basics. With a little know-how and some forward planning, you can ensure that your business wardrobe is always on-point, no matter what. And here’s how:
Mono-colour shirts are particularly popular amongst professionals for good reason – they’re no-nonsense aesthetic works with the majority of suit colours and, rather handily, almost every style of tie, too.
White shirts provide the most versatile backdrop for a tie. While it’s unlikely to be the most imaginative pairing, you can select just about any colour (bar white) or pattern of tie and it will work perfectly on a visual level. Obviously the more plain the jacket, the greater the scope to play with the tie’s pattern or texture. So, if it’s a navy suit jacket, feel free to choose anything from club-style stripes or checks to more visually complex prints such as polka dot, Paisley or tartan.
Shirts in lighter plain colours, such as sky blue or pink, are not quite so versatile; yet still offer plenty of scope for a huge number of successful shirt-and-tie pairings.
The simplest method is to go for an analogous tie colour, which means teaming your light shirt with a darker tie in the same colour family – a dark navy tie with a light blue shirt, or a deep wine tie against a pale pink shirt. The results are shirts and ties that are understated and professional, albeit rather safe.
A riskier but far more creative alternative is to opt for a complementary tie colour with your shirt. Don’t leave it to your own eye, though – consult the colour wheel to check which hues are complementary, rather than clashing. The results may be surprising but tend to work brilliantly – a green tie against a pale pink shirt, for example.
The third and final option when pairing a plain shirt with a tie is to opt for contrasting (and not clashing) colours – a flash of red silk with a blue shirt, or an understated navy tie against the backdrop of a pale pink shirt.
Whether micro, plaid, windowpane or gingham, check shirts are an easy way to introduce some personal style to your work wardrobe, although they call for a more measured approach when it comes to choosing a complementary tie. Combing patterns is potentially risky, but when executed masterfully, the results can be spectacular.
Ensure that the pattern of the tie is bigger than that of the shirt. A thinly striped shirt, for example, can be worn with bold checks so long as the checks are larger and, subsequently, won’t get lost against the shirt.
Pairing a solid tie with a patterned shirt is far more straightforward. Simply keep the tie darker than the shirt, rather than vice versa. A pink gingham shirt, for example, will work well with, say, a solid navy or burgundy tie.
Another option for tasteful check-shirt-and-tie pairing is to opt for a textured tie. Instead of the conventional silk, look to knitted ties, or designs in tweed, wool flannel or seersucker, which will lend tremendous visual depth to your outfit. Trust us, that’s a good thing!
When teaming a tie with a striped shirt, the key is to vary the size and scale of your patterns. If, for instance, you want to go for stripes on stripes, make sure the respective designs are distinctly different.
Heeding this simple rule, you can play around with even the most daring combinations - thin vertical stripes on a business shirt, for example, can be paired perfectly with a club-style tie, so long as its diagonal stripes are chunky, rather than slim. Similarly, combining a striped shirt with a spotted tie, for example, allows both designs to stand out, so long as the scale of the respective patterns (stripes and polka dot) is different.
If, of course, you wish to wear a plain tie with your striped shirt, just be sure to choose colours that are complementary, rather than clashing. A quick check of the colour wheel will remove any margin for error.
So, there you have it. Whether at its most basic (plain on plain) or its most complex (mixing patterns), choosing shirt-and-tie combinations is an easily mastered skill. Once you know and observe the general ‘rules’, you can really showcase your style credentials while also allowing your personality to shine through.