Hello gentlemen. I’m finally back. I took a few days off from writing to give myself a break and to refresh my creativity. A few days ago a coworker of mine asked for my help. When I went into his office he had a cardigan, dress shirt, and at least five ties spread out on his couch. He looked at me and said “O.K. what goes with what?” I took a few moments and matched up his wardrobe and he was on his way. That moment got me thinking about something.
It seems so easy to pick out a nice shirt and compliment it with a pair of dress trousers or jeans. Then there’s the tie. It seems that the “tie” complicates the matters of personal style. That extra element seems to add some stress to our outfit. I have good news. This doesn’t have to be the case. Ties are a great opportunity to take your personal style to a new level of dapper, but first we have to know how to match them with our shirts.
Colors and patterns are enough to drive any man crazy and when they’re on a shirt and a tie it doesn’t help. To help you out I have included this handy-dandy color wheel. This wheel provides you with shades and similar complimentary colors. Where was this thing when I was a teenager? It’s simple to use. The sections on each side of the color in question are similar. Directly opposite is the contrasting color and the hues are separated by three sections of the wheel. For example blue is opposite of orange making it a complimentary color. Blue-purple and blue-green are on either side of blue, this makes them similar colors. Then we have red-purple and yellow-green three sections away from blue making them contrasting colors. Please feel free to read that over again. Trust me…I did four times. Keep in mind that when it comes to shirts and ties that it’s easier to build with contrasting colors. Trying to pair complimentary colors can be hard because two “full” colors can be too much for everyone’s eyes to handle.
Ties. In the mean time let’s have a quick refresher on ties. When looking for ties always purchase with quality. I personally buy silk or wool ties. Second, stay way from flat shiny ties. You want a tie that has texture or a matte finish to it. Patterns and colors are great, but remember that the tie is not the main event to your outfit. The other night I wore a skinny tie with my suit. A friend of mine commented on it. He asked how do you know when to wear a skinny tie or a wide tie? What a great question. You always want the width of your tie to match the width of the lapels of your suit. One last note, if you’re wearing the classic white dress shirt make sure your tie “pops” with the shirt. Please note that none of the following pictures specifically apply to the highlighted sections.
Dress Shirts. Most men own the standard white dress shirt. This is every gentleman’s emergency “fall back” shirt. You’re in a jam and have no clue what to wear so you throw on that white dress shirt. I would strongly encourage you to have the following dress shirts in your personal wardrobe: Charcoal grey, sky blue, pink, and black.
Specific Colors and Ties. Gentlemen, here is where your sense of adventure comes in. Now is your opportunity to put you color wheel to use and step up to the edge of that dapper style you’ve been looking for. When dealing with sky blue colors try using darker navy blue, orange, burgundy, oxblood, gold, or forest green tie colors. I set you up with a good start. I would encourage you to take those remaining colors that I listed and try and match them accordingly.
Checkered Dress Shirts. When it comes to wearing checkered and striped shirts the same rules don’t apply to both. Keep this one rule in mind when wearing a checkered dress shirt and a checkered tie. Always make sure your tie has a bigger checkered pattern than you checkered shirt. This actually helps your tie stand out from your shirt instead of getting sucked into the vortex “checks.” Stripes are totally acceptable to compliment with checkered shirts. Make sure you choose a tie with a big and bold enough stripe pattern so that it can stand up to the pattern on the shirt. If you want to be adventurous and try wearing polka dots, you can. They will work if you follow the same rules.
Striped Dress Shirts. O.K. first the standard color rules still apply for the classic striped dress shirt. Second, the tie design you choose needs to be thought through just a little more. An easy fall back tie is a solid colored one. But let’s get a little more dapper gentlemen with patterns. If this is the case keep this rule in mind: always vary the size of the patterns you are trying to combine. An example of this would be, a thin striped shirt should be combined with larger patterned tie and a wide striped shirt should be paired with a smaller intricate patterned tie. Again feel free to throw in some polka dots and paisley as well. Create your personal style as a gentleman. I said to my friend in his office, “Hey no one is going to question your style and matching, unless they really know what they’re talking about. Let’s be truthful, most people have no clue.”
Let’s be honest as guys for a moment. Shirts and ties are never easy to match so don’t get discourage or feel like you’re not getting it. All I can encourage you with is to try different combinations and stay within the rules. You’re already on your way to being dapper.