By Eric Yang
on 6.1.09

how-to-pair-and-shirt-and-tie

There isn’t a lot you can be certain of in these wayfaring times, but one sure bet is the you’re going to be sweating bullets this summer. If you live in an area with impenetrable summer humidity (e.g. the East Coast or the South) or where 90° is considered a “cool day” (e.g. So Cal’s Valley), then you’re most likely keeping the blazer or sport coat off for most parts of the day. Of course, it’s assumed you’ll be using an anti-perspirant like this to offset any, ahem, distractions from your properly matched shirt & tie.

We’re kicking off the Be A Better Man In 30 Days Initiative with an often mismatched/misunderstood part of the man’s wardrobe: the dress shirt and tie combination. Sans a jacket, it’ll be the single most visible part of your wardrobe. The question is, are you properly equipped? If so, then good. If not, then read on.

A Semi/Über Abridged Guide To Men’s Dress Shirt Patterns

mens-dress-shirt-patterns1

First, lets get to know some of the widely available men’s shirt patterns.

  • A. Single Color
  • B. Striped, Fine Striped
  • C. Bengal Striped
  • D. Grid, Windowpane
  • E. Gingham Check
  • F. Glen-Plaid (a.k.a. Prince of Wales Check)
  • G. Woven

Even if you didn’t know their technical names (Such as fine-striped versus Bengal. Seriously?), you probably recognize the patterns themselves. Hell, your wardrobe probably even has a few of these styles already. But it’s summer, and it’s time to expand or reutilize. Use the following guide to venture out or even pair what you already have. After all, you won’t always have a suit to cover up your lack of shirt-magination.

Simple Guide To Matching Shirts & Ties

solid-color-shirt-and-tieSingle Color – Harmonious, solid color dress shirt and tie combinations are found by picking colors of the same family and relation. Choose color families that have the same base colors (red, blue or yellow). This does not mean different shades of the same color (different hues of blue), but rather a color relation that carries through both the shirt and tie.

striped-shirt-and-tieStriped, Fine Striped – Stick with simple ties. Yes, you can pair a striped tie along with a striped shirt, but they cannot be similar in stripe size. A textured tie works well, especially in a bold solid color. Make sure that you carry one color from your tie to your shirt or suit. It goes without saying that you should avoid a pinstriped suit when wearing a striped shirt/striped tie combo.

bengal-stripe-and-tieBengal Striped – Bengal stripes are a robust pattern. Your tie should play back-up guitar here with a low profile repeating pattern. This editor’s personal take is to avoid dotted patterns.

gingham-shirt-and-tieCheckered and Gingham Check – When wearing checkered shirts you need to pay attention to the pattern. Keep the sizes different, even if the patterns on both are small or large. Again, tie the color back to another element of your outfit: shirt, suit, etc. Gingham checks are typically of lighter hue so pairing it with a dark tie (vert basic patterns work here) is your best choice.

glen-plaid-shirt-and-tieGlen-Plaid (a.k.a. Prince of Wales Check) – Because Glen-Plaid is a bold pattern (on both suits and shirts), your best bet is to stick with a thick striped tie (varsity, gordian, club, gable). The axiom that a bold pattern is best offset with a subtle one does not apply. Glen-plaid requires a bold tie to pair properly, yet the entire effect can still be conservative.

grid-shirt-and-tie-comboGrid, Windowpane – One of the most effective shirt and tie combinations when paired properly. First, make sure a color matches between your and shirt and tie. Second: make sure that tie is patterned. You can go a little bolder on the pattern, but make sure you feel comfortable pulling it off. If it looks ostentatious to you in the privacy of your own home, it will look 10x so in public.

woven-shirt-and-tie-comboWoven – Woven dress shirts are an interesting beast because it’s their weave that give its pattern versus a strict design. If your woven shirt is light, then pair it with a darker tie with a similar stripe. If your dress shirt is very dark and you want to pair it with a light tie then you should reconsider today’s wardrobe. That is, unless you really miss the 1990’s.

If you’re like us, you go about your day seeing men failing to adhere to simple rules of dress. Purple paisley patterns are fine for those men who can pull them off, but even Mr. George Clooney can’t pull off a purple paisley shirt paired with a pink polka dotted tie (Hear that? Cary Grant just gagged a little). Let this simple guide serve, if anything, as a plead to dress yourself in a manner befitting of your stature. You are your own man so you’ll inevitably want to, and should, offer your own personal touches to the aforementioned axioms, but straying far from the rules of color and patterns typically result in sartorial cacophony. And that, gentlemen, is not advancing yourself.

Where To Purchase

Now that you’re primed on pairing dress shirts and ties, here are a few retailers their respective sites to help turn this upgrade into a reality. After all, you are a man of action.

Let’s continue the conversation. Do you have suggestions or shirt and tie recommendations of your own? Share them below (with links if you can) and help your fellow man. We want to hear from you!