Mixing patterns is one of the most difficult of all the sartorial sciences. One of the EveryGuyed editors even commented, in a very Yoda-like moment, that it was something that could not simply be ‘taught’.
‘It’s either a good match or it isn’t. If it isn’t, something about it will just feel wrong.’
It’s this kind of sense that you’re going to need to develop – a sort of curatorial eye that will allow you to sense when matches are off, and why. Until then, EveryGuyed has this article to help you start matching shirts and ties like a master.
Picking A Shirt
First, decide on a shirt that will work with your complexion. As the old saying goes, the world doesn’t move to the beat of just one drum, so what’s might be right for you may not be right for another. Finding a shirt that compliments your skin tone and body type shouldn’t be overlooked, as the shirt will be the canvas that the artistry of the tie will be measured against.
Find a shirt that compliments your skin tone and body type
Matching Your Tie To The Shirt
Once you’ve decided on a shirt, you need to take the next step and decide what kind of necktie you can pair with the pattern of the shirt. Here are four basic shirt types in your closet and some suggestions as to what you can do with them:
The Plain Shirt
One of the most common shirt patterns, this shirt lends easily to matching. A plain white dress shirt can be matched with nearly any kind of necktie. When working with colored shirts, pick patterned ties that compliment the shirt’s primary color, as illustrated in the StyleGuyed ‘Guide to Color Matching’. Blue variegated stripes on a blue field are a classic choice, as are fine dots on a plain white shirt. A basic starting point, if you can’t master matching ties to this mainstay, you might as well just give up.
The Stripe Shirt
The simple striped shirt is the shirt you’ll probably be working with most often. The simple, narrow stripes don’t seek to dominate the shirt, but instead add color and texture through their presence. The shirts in this category range from blue schoolboy stripes on a button-down shirt, to simple, classic pencil stripe shirts. Dots match small stripes well, as do striped ties in complimentary colors. As always, be conscious that the goal is to compliment colors, not match them.
The Variegated Stripe Shirt
Bold, colorful stripes favored by designers like Robert Graham and Paul Smith, these designs are among the most difficult to match. Small dots on a dark field, and co-coordinated stripes on a dark tie are both choices that offset the brightness and brashness of the shirt with traditional, dark designs. Narrow straight ties are also an excellent choice, complimenting the stripes here.
The Check Shirt
The gingham check shirt can lend itself to ambitious necktie pairings, both good and bad. Softer colors are the best choice, as there is an ever-present risk of overpowering the necktie. If you have loud patterned ties in matching colors, this would be the time to use them. The more powerful pattern ought to be on the necktie, but you should consider wearing a solid colored suit to avoid mixing three potentially clashing patterns.
- This list is just a list of suggestions for beginners. Matching ties to plaid shirts, floral prints and more eccentric designs are just some of the more advanced pairings you can start working with, as you get more comfortable.
- As a rule, the further from your body the item, the larger the check pattern. With that in mind, use fine checks, or gingham for your shirt, and windowpanes for your suit.
- Avoid pinstripe or windowpane suits if you’re already wearing a patterned shirt. Mixing three or more patterns creates a ‘busy’ look.
- When mixing patterns, try using varying pattern sizes. A large check shirt can be mixed with a check tie, if the checks are of differing sizes.
- Practice, practice, practice. Don’t be afraid to try on three or four ties on in the mirror before you decide on something. Don’t be afraid to try a different shirt. Pattern matching is an inexact science; so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Have we committed some sort of faux-pas? Checks with dots giving you the chills? Unsure about a match you’ve put together? Use the comment box below to give or get advice or suggestions!