Shirt and Tie Combinations | The Gentleman's Guide

Shirt and Tie Combinations | The Gentleman's Guide

Shirt and Tie Combinations

The suit is a timeless and adaptable outfit, used from formal events to the office. Sometimes it’s the best weapon a man can have in his fashion arsenal, ready to look spick and span for anything that calls for it. 

Yet, the number of styles, colors, and patterns that are out there are also overwhelmingly endless. When it comes to all these factors, it can get confusing trying to match everything. Down below we have the complete guide to the shirt and tie combinations, from color matching to textures, we’ve listed out everything you need to know.  Here are also separate guides if you're considering what color tie to wear with a navy suit, the best men's ties, and different ways to a tie a tie.

What to Know Beforehand

Before we get into the different combinations of shirts and ties, it’s important to understand the different factors that go into pairing your outfits. We’re talking colors, collars, textures, and patterns. 

Even more so, you want to make sure you source your dress shirts from a place that has quality fabric while also ticking all of these boxes. Websites like Nimble Made offer a nice selection of dress shirts as well as ties, all available in varying colors and styles.    


Color Pairing 

pink tie with white dress shirt and black suit jacket

Believe it or not, there are reasons why certain color combinations are appealing to our eyes and others feel like they clash. There are complementary, triad, and analogous colors that work together for different reasons. 

Complementary colors are the ones that are on opposite sides of the color wheel from each other. For example, red and green are complementary colors which is why they’re traditional Christmas colors. 

Triad colors are the colors that are evenly spaced from each other around the color wheel. For example: red, blue, and yellow are triadic colors. 

Analogous colors correspond to a monochromatic color scheme. It is the use of three colors that are next to each other. For example, red, orange, and yellow are analogous colors. 

Utilizing this knowledge of colors helps to make any decisions you’re having trouble with when it comes to matching colors. The goal is always to create simple, but harmonious looks with your suited outfits. Of course, this is all a playbook just to help you get started before you can begin experimenting more.    

Collar Types

When it comes to dress and business shirts, there are varying collar types that acquire different ties. Understanding which collars to look out for will prevent you from making any unintentional fashion mistakes when getting dressed up. The cut of the collar ultimately determines which tie knot you should implement.  

There are three core collar forms that you’ll need to know first: the cutaway, the point collar, and the button down. Plus, each collar type will have a certain tie knot that accentuates your face and collar the best. Given that there are many possible tie knots, we’ll only divulge the most common and widely used tie knots with the given collar forms. 

Cutaway collars are on the classier side of collars. This style also requires a hefty tie knot to make up for the extreme space provided. A good rule of thumb to follow is that the wider the collar is, the bigger the tie knot you’ll need to compensate for it. This collar will require a full Windsor knot, which is the biggest tie knot out there. 

Point collars are the most standard collar on the market. Its origin can be found in military dress whilst also being found in school uniforms. Think of it as the default option when it comes to business and professional dress shirts. Perfectly in the middle of the spectrum, the most default tie option you can implement is a four-in-hand knot. 

Button downs are the most casual option when it comes to dressing up. The namesake comes from the ability to button the collar down. Because of this option, you can get away without wearing a tie, as long as you dress it up with a blazer. A four-in-hand knot will also work here, but be sure to do your research on tie knots once you’ve got all the basics down.  


textures on dress shirts

There are a few textures that both your dress shirts and your ties can embody. This requires a bit more finesse but also opens up some fun choices to experiment with within your style. A variation in textures can also class up an otherwise casual dress shirt or outfit. The different textures of shirts out there are as follows:

And as for materials for ties, there are:

Don’t be afraid to match texture with texture. For example, you could pair a wool tie with a flannel or chambray texture. As for dress shirt material that is more linen and cotton, you’ll either want to stick with silk or linen and cotton. Heavy can go with heavy, but it’ll require some experimenting to see which heavy fabrics can go with lighter fabrics. 



pattern polka dot blue navy tie

If patterns seem especially intimidating, we understand. The biggest pitfall people can find themselves in is trying to do too much with patterns. For example, if you tried to match stripes with a plaid pattern, you’ll end up with a mess of lines that will just make you look like a mess.  You don’t want to clash with certain patterns, but it isn’t entirely impossible to match two different patterns with each other. 

The most widely used patterns you’ll encounter are as follows:

  • Stripes
  • Checkered
  • Plaid
  • Gingham 

The fastest and easiest way to match a patterned fabric is to match it with a plain and analogous or complementary color. Whether you’re dealing with a patterned dress shirt or tie, pairing it with a plain color is the best way to achieve a cohesive outfit. 

Of course, some rules are meant to be broken and there are patterns you can match with each other. Down below in our comprehensive guide, you’ll find a few suggestions as to which patterns can be matched with a different one.    

The Best Tie and Shirt Combinations

Now that we know all the different factors that play into styling your outfits, we can get into the different combinations that you can employ. The color wheel knowledge helps match plain shirts and ties, but when it comes to patterns there are certain rules and tips to follow. 

Given that there are limitless possibilities when it comes to pairing your colored and patterned shirts, here are the baseline combinations that everyone usually starts with. As well as a few experimental options for those wanting to step outside the box a little.  



White Shirts

dark navy tie with white shirt color combination

There is nothing more classic than a white dress shirt in a poplin or broadcloth fabric. When it comes to pairing it with a tie, you can take the safe route and pair it with a plain and basic color. Red and blue can sometimes give a more political feel so be sure to check out the other colors on the spectrum when matching the rest of your outfit. 

Don’t be afraid to flair it up a little with a patterned tie as well. A plain white shirt is just begging for some diversity and you can easily answer that with subtly patterned pieces. Nimble Made has a quality and affordable white dress shirt and a nice collection of ties to pair it with. 


Sky Blue Shirts 

A light blue shirt also opens up more versatile options, whilst still remaining colorful. Sometimes white may be too plain and a sky blue color can still give you simple, but effective options. For example, try pairing a sky blue shirt with a black suit. When it comes to light colors, it is important to strive for darker colors when it comes to your tie choice. This is because using opposite tones in your colors will help balance everything out. Here's a full guide of light blue and dark blue dress shirts to consider.

You’ll want to pair it with ties that are a darker shade of blue like navy or opt for more colorful choices such as dark red, burgundy, and mustard shades of yellow. 


Black Shirts 

Black is another one of those timeless colors that can be paired with virtually any color if need be. To get the absolute most out of the plain, black dress shirt, pair it with a color that is on the same tonal ground as black. 

For example, you can pair black with a burgundy color or navy color. Other colors that will also work are as follows: dark green, shades of grey, dark purples, and dark reds. Patterned ties will also balance out plain colors well since you’re working with a neutral base.  

Pink Shirts 

We applaud anyone willing to push the boundaries and make a statement with a pink shirt. With that being said, you don’t want to match a loud color with an even louder one. The pink dress shirts that are usually available on the market are more of a lighter pink, and we fully suggest you picking this shade rather than anything darker to keep things professional. 

When it comes to ties we suggest pairing a pink dress shirt with darker shades of blue, red, and gray. You’ll be able to make a statement without sticking out for the wrong reasons. Don’t try to go lighter than the baby pink with your tie color choice. If you do go lighter you’ll inadvertently wash yourself out, or you will look like you’re dressed for Easter Sunday. If you're feeling bold, try a light purple dress shirt.



Striped Shirts 

striped blue mens dress shirt

The best rule of the thumb to follow when it comes to striped shirts is to pair them with a plain-colored tie. If your shirt has very fine stripes, so much so that it doesn’t look striped from a distance then you can pair it with a patterned tie. If the striped lines are thicker, then it’s better to keep it paired with a plain color. This featured blue and white dress shirt has a twill weave

The one thing to be wary about when it comes to striped shirts is styling them so you don’t end up looking like you’re wearing your pajamas. Luckily you can avoid this by wearing skimmer jeans and nice boots or dress shoes to emphasize that you’re wearing a dress shirt. 


Checkered Shirts

Now, these patterned shirts usually implement three colors in a slim and repeated fashion for a look that is fun yet professional. Depending on what those three colors are, we suggest picking any of the colors that are not the base color, to be your plain colored tie. 

If you want to be more adventurous, depending on how intense the pattern is, you can pair a checkered shirt with a thick striped tie that implements one color that can be found on the shirt and the other color on the same tonal ground as the others.  


Herringbone Shirts 

This is one of the most subtle patterns in this list. Herringbone simply refers to the repeated v-shape that occurs throughout the shirt. The shape isn’t large and is instead of a lighter shade making it seem like the color of the shirt is indeed lighter. 

Because this shirt almost employs an invisible pattern, you can truly pair it with either a plain tie or a patterned one. Just be sure to match the colors based on the knowledge we provided beforehand. This is truly a timeless pattern that is only an asset in your closet.  

Gingham Shirts 

mens gingham shirt

This pattern shares a lot of similarities to the checkered pattern, but where it differs is the number of colors used. Checkered uses three colors whereas gingham utilizes two colors, one of which is always white. This is a dark navy and white gingham collared dress shirt from Nimble Made.  

If you want to keep it as safe as possible then we suggest pairing this pattern with a basic color that is darker or complementary to the other color used in the pattern. For example, if a gingham utilizes a blue and white pattern then pair it with a lighter blue or complementary color. 

If you are interested in exploring matching patterns, then we suggest going for a tie that is adorned with small polka dots with complementary colors, of course.


Textured Shirts

Chambray Shirts

This texture is meant to take on the look of denim without incorporating the feel of denim. The fabric utilized is primarily cotton, but the blue it takes on is meant to class up a denim look. You can definitely wear a chambray dress shirt to work if paired with the right jacket and tie. Pair it with a black or dark-colored jacket. 

As for the tie you should experiment between different textures varying from a denim tie to a knit one. 


Flannel Shirts blue men flannel shirt

This is one of the most casual shirts you can wear to the office, but it can definitely be classed up by the jacket and the tie you wear. With casual textures and shirts, you don’t want to go full tilt and pair it with a silk tie thinking it will balance it out. 

Since extremes don’t go well together in this instance, you can help make your flannel look professional by pairing it with a denim tie. The shirt needs a heavier texture to help bring your look together. Don’t forget to go for a new and quality flannel, that isn’t frumpy or faded. Nimble Made has flannel dress shirts that are the perfect balance between casual and professional. 



When it comes to workplace fashion, there are truly limitless options. What’s important is finding a style that you love and are comfortable with. Only then can you begin to explore and experiment with colors and patterns that are outside of your comfort zone. Be sure to invest in clothing stores that will give you quality items at the most affordable prices, like Nimble Made.  

With this thorough guide into the different shirt and tie combinations that are out there, now you can begin acquiring your shirts and ties. To get the biggest bangs for your buck, you’ll want to invest in basic colors first that can be easily interchangeable and then look into changing it up with patterns. 

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