Fear of choosing the wrong shirt and tie combos has left too many men with limited choices in attire.
I know that was the case with me for many years. The fear of shirt and tie combos is widespread though-- I've heard similar stories from other men. Rather than having choices, we tend to be limited to a pinpoint Oxford button-up shirt in a few colors. For ties, we rely on solid colors. If we are feeling adventurous, throw in a couple of striped options to the rotation.
It wasn't until I did some research into the proper pairing of these two elements that my style changed for the better. Thus, I'd like to share a few of the tips I've learned along the way that have really expanded the variety in my closet. With these tricks, you will take your look that blends into the background, to a style that makes an immediate statement.
Our Favorite Essential Shirt and Tie Combos
The main goal to keep in mind is don't clash -- at least unintentionally. Patterns on patterns can work, as long as they complement each other. Beyond that, there are tons of options in color, design and material up for grabs. Then it's up to you to select which suit and tie combos appeals to you.
Below, you will find a broad guide to some of the pairings I think all style conscious guys should have on hand. Here's hoping you find these tips as helpful as I did when I first discovered them!
The Classic White Button-up Shirt
This is the shirt most boys acquire when they first start wearing ties. Yet, some guys never progress past it - (I was guilty of that for far too long.) Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a white shirt. It literally goes with any tie. It'll absorb a busy pattern as easily as it helps more subdued stripes stand out. Therefore, this is a great option to have multiples of on hand in your closet.
Even still, just because a shirt works with any tie, that doesn't mean it should be worn for all occasions. Believe it or not, there are specific ties that work best atop the blank canvas of a white shirt. Personally, I like the monochromatic look and often wear a gray scale tie with a cool pattern. However, white shirts are also a great backdrop for wide stripes or even that polka dotted tie you've been afraid to wear in public.
The point is, white shirts are permission to go wild. Certainly, there are some options that are just bad fashion choices. (I'm looking at you, light up musical Christmas novelty tie). But some neck wear is just bold enough to work in the narrowest of situations. Those situations often include a white shirt capable of absorbing the style shock.
Look Great in Stripes Without Fear
This is where it starts to get trickier. Pairing a striped shirt with anything other than a solid tie matching the stripe color can be intimidating. However, there are a few basic concepts required to truly master one of the best shirt and tie combos. By incorporating these guidelines into your wardrobe, you exponentially increase the looks you're able to pull off with confidence. Having several striped shirts in the rotation and knowing how to work them is totally worth the effort!
First, as with any style choice, color is key. Of course you'll want to match or complement the color of the stripe. Generally speaking, make the tie the darker of the two shades. But when you start introducing additional patterns to the tie, application of that rule can become murky. Not only do you have to make sure the colors work, but also the new pattern. Basically, you just want to avoid any clashing lines or shapes. A good first step to this end is picking differently sized patterns in shirt and tie combos.
You can easily find harmonious pairings between patterns. I usually opt for a wide stripe on top of a pinstriped shirt (just keep the direction of the two stripes going in different directions!). But, I also like pairing stripes with softer shapes like paisley or similar looks in my ties. The bottom line is to keep the two patterns from competing for attention. A striped shirt should create a finished look, not confusion, with the tie it is pairing.
Making a Solid Colored Shirt Pop
Just because a solid white shirt is easy to pair with any tie, does not make the same true here. Perhaps nowhere is color more critical than in finding the right tie for a solid color backdrop. Here's where the color wheel comes into play. There are a few ways to use this color theory to benefit your style.
First, pick a corresponding tie color for your shirt. That is, choose a color directly beside the hue of your shirt. This is a pretty easy way to get acclimated to the process of expanding your shirt and tie combos. Once you pick a base color, you can make a (pretty much) fool-proof selection by choosing something on either side. It is almost always a safe bet to choose a similar, darker color for your tie.
Another common pairing technique involves contrasting colors. You need to be careful to avoid too much contrast, though, which can be a tough proposition. Look for two colors with three other hues between them in the color wheel. Then choose shades of those colors that complement each other and you're good to go.
Additionally, you can choose complementary colors, which sit on opposite sides of each other on the color wheel. You'll find these pairs in advertising and many other iconic symbolism - red and greed during Christmas, for instance. But such powerful pairings should be used sparingly when one of them is the color of your shirt. It can easily overpower your entire ensemble and wreck an otherwise great look.
Once you select the right colors, though, you can have a lot of fun with the pattern. Just like the solid white counterpart, these button ups provide a background for adventurous shirt and tie combos. Once you master the basics here, you can apply them to break outside of these loose rules. These shirts might be "plain," but with all the colors and combinations available, your look will be anything but. Just like the solid white counterpart, these button ups provide a background for adventurous shirt and tie combos.
Keep Your Checks in Check
After years of being stuck in a rut of solid colored ties, I'm quick to suggest alternatives these days. But when it comes to a gingham design, solid is always a safe choice. Even more than with a striped shirt, checks make it easy for shirt and tie combos to clash. That being said, these are some of my favorite designs, and any solid colored knit ties in my collection are there to be worn with checked shirts.
A fine silk tie is a pretty safe bet with any dress shirt. Gingham presents a unique opportunity to really accentuate other fabrics, though. A classic, thin knit tie pairs extremely well with one of these shirts. Such a combination adds some interesting texture to your ensemble, which helps turn an otherwise stuffy outfit into something a bit more casual.
I suggest keeping at least a couple of checked shirts on hand. Like stripes, it's pretty easy to find a match by finding something that complements the accenting color. Plus, it's something that can help you break out from the pack. Save it for the right occasion and maximize the effect.. I don't wear gingham more than once or twice a month, but I always have a unique confidence in myself when I do.
Finding the right shirt and tie combos does not have to be an intimidating task.
Don't miss out on great styles because you're afraid to try new looks. Believe me, there are plenty of men out there fearlessly wearing the wrong shirt and tie combos. With a little planning, you can go out into the world and be a force for good style. You have my blessing -- wear a blue shirt with a blue tie, put diagonal stripes over your vertically striped shirt, experiment, express yourself, and most importantly, be comfortable.
At the end of the day, you're only going to wear what makes you feel right. No matter how much somebody says certain shirt and tie combos go well together, do your own research. Ask people whose opinions you respect which style they think suits you best. Do whatever it takes to make sure you're walking out of the door in confidence, which makes a bigger difference in your look than any clothes money buys.
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