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Style Advice

How to match your shirts and ties

How to match your shirts and ties

A question that floods our stylists’ inboxes is “how do I match my shirt and tie?”. In theory, it should be an easy and painless thing to do, yet so many approach it with trepidation – for fear of the dreaded clash. Once you’ve got the hang of this delicate art, however, you can safely pick out winning combinations without a time-burgling wardrobe appraisal. Enter our trusty stylists, who have put together a few basic guidelines to aid your daily decisions. Start with your choice of shirt, match your tie with the tips below, and that dreaded clash will be a thing of the past. 

White shirt

A blank canvas gives you lots of leeway. When wearing a white shirt, you can play around with your choice of tie without having to worry. “You can go for it. Big and small patterns, bold colours – the choice is yours, but ask yourself whether you’d like to come across relaxed or more playful. If you’re looking to make a statement, go for big patterns and bold colours, whereas block colour ties in neutral tones will present a sharper aesthetic,” says Thread stylist Alexander McCalla.

Block-colour shirt

A good rule of thumb is that your tie should be darker than your shirt. Generally speaking, that is. “Always go for contrast, whether tonal or fabric,” says Thread stylist Artemis Crowley. If your shirt is vibrant, go subtle with the tie and vice versa. While your tie can be in the same colour family as your shirt and suit, the shades should be different. Or, if you’re looking to shake things up and experiment a little, refer to a colour wheel and familiarise yourself with ‘complementary’ and ‘contrasting’ colours – if you follow by the rules of the wheel, you can pair a mid-blue shirt and a burgundy tie or a light pink shirt and a navy tie with confidence. With a block-colour shirt, small patterns on a tie can also work well – just ensure if one element is very bold, the other should be more subtle. 

Patterned shirts

When patterns are introduced, things start to get interesting. “Steer clear of similarly patterned ties. The safe route would be to keep it simple with a block colour,” Alexander advises. “It’s all about making sure one of the two elements does the talking.” If you’re thinking of trying pattern-on-pattern, make sure that the size and type of the pattern varies. “It’s definitely possible to double up on pattern but make sure there’s some subtle tension. Don’t go for a matching pattern, and do try to include textural difference in the combination. For example, a blue checked shirt with a jewel-coloured paisley tie would work well, or even an Oxford striped shirt with a spotted knitted tie,” Artemis suggests. 

Textured shirt

Erring on the more casual side of things, a textured shirt works great with a textured or block-colour tie. “Try to match the fabric’s weight. Light fabrics, like a cotton poplin shirt and a linen/silk tie, go together during warmer seasons, while colder weather means you can try heavier combinations like Oxford/flannel shirts with knitted/wool ties,” says Artemis.

Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Illustration: Darren Shaddick