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What goes with what

What in my outfit should match?

What in my outfit should match?

Photographed: Paul Smith bag (£385); Grenson shoes (£210); Research Garments shirt (£49); Reiss pocket square (£30)


It can sometimes seem like men’s style is out to trip us up. There are rules that are particularly counterintuitive, like not fastening the bottom button on a blazer. Figuring out what should match, and what shouldn’t, can be just as bewildering. Go too far and you’ll look like you’re wearing a uniform. But with no matching at all, you can look disjointed. If nothing in your outfit coheres, people will assume you got dressed in the dark.

There is a happy medium though, says Thread stylist Alice Watt. “It’s important that items should match, but you can relax as there’s no set rule.” Avoid exactly the same pattern or block colour on more than one item, but use complementary shades to link different parts of your outfit. “A blue trim on a pocket square, say, will match a similar tone in your tie, but it doesn’t look like they came as part of a set.” All of which is good advice. So, we’ve broke down the nitty-gritty to make your outfit a match made in Heaven.



The basic rule is that you shouldn’t pair black and brown. So black shoes need a black belt, watch strap and bag, if you’re carrying one (if your bag isn’t leather, then any colour is fine). “Try to pair together the same tones or the quality of leather,” says Alice. “The look and texture is also important to consider, too, how shiny or matte it is, for example, or if the leather is pebble grain.” That said, cousins work better than identical twins. “There’s no need to try and match your dark brown shoes with a dark brown belt. A tan alternative in a matching texture will work just as well."

Tie and shirt

This can be a simple style power move. “A tie and shirt is so rarely matched, but it’s so much better if you do,” says Alice. “Try different gradients of the same shade for a tonal look, like a light blue shirt with a navy tie.” Again, you’re going for complementary accents, rather than the exact same shade in both. Unless they’re both white, in which case the brighter, the better.

Tie and pocket square

“If there’s one rule to follow in life, it’s that a tie and pocket square shouldn’t match,” says Alice. “However, they should look like they’re from the same family, be it fabric or with similar accents.”  So if you opt for a white pocket square, consider a tie with flecks or stripes of white to pull your look together.