What You Should Know about Shirt and Tie Combinations

suit and tie combinations

Getting the perfect shirt and tie combinations can be tricky, especially if you’ve got a posh do to go to, but this guide will help you out a little, trust me.

Read more Men’s Style Guide features. 

You’ve bought your suit, you paired it with the right shirt and your shoes are the correct colour. You’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself, I mean you’ve got the hard part out the way, but now you’ve got to finish it off with the right tie. Sounds simple enough, but it can annoying ruin a whole look if you get it wrong. How many times have you looked at someone and noticed how awful their tie is?

Even if they’ve got the rest of their outfit spot on, if their tie is wrong, nothing else really matters. Get the tie wrong and you may as well have not bothered with the suit at all. So, let’s make sure you’re not making any final hurdle mistakes and get the colour matching right.

Men’s Formal Shirts

First off you need to make sure you’re wearing the right shirt to pair with your smart tie. This might sound like a weird thing to focus on, but if your shirt doesn’t have the right collar that’s big enough, then your tie isn’t going to work with it. The best men’s dress shirts are the classic oxford designs.

They’re perfect for ties (despite originally being a sports shirt for polo players), and have a flattering collar which keeps your tie snug. Generally seen as more of a casual shirt style, these never the less still work for formal looks, and if you get the overall proportions right then you’ll have a neat and perfectly styled shirt and tie combination.

Size Guide for shirts

The Collar

Okay, so we sung the oxford shirt’s praises, but if you’d rather go for a less conventional look then there’s a range of dress shirts that feature more noticable collars. Although some have subtle differences, they can make a big difference to the overall look of your tie, with some collars exposing them more than others. Here’s the lowdown on some of the best collars to work with your ties.

collar shapes ties
PHOTO CREDIT: Alabaster & Chess

Classic Straight Point Collar

  • The most common shirt collar
  • Medium width for a balanced look

Narrow Straight Point Collar

  • Points downwards in an elongating way
  • Narrow opening which hides stem of the tie

Button Down Collar

  • Small buttons on the collar tip to keep it in place

Spread Collar

  • Features a wide opening to show off the tie knot

Men’s Ties

Even if you’re going for a less recommended purple shirt and tie combination, if you get the tie looking good, then you might, might be able to pull it off. A badly made tie always looks naff, but a good quality one can really help an shirt look its best, so it’s a good idea to invest in a few. You should also learn a few different ties, as although the standard windsor knot will stand you well, there are so many other choices you can go for, which improve your overall look and add some interest to your outfit.

There’s over 30 tie knots you can learn, but I doubt many guys in the world have time for that. Let’s just stick to five.

  • The Windsor – The most well known tie knot, and one of the easiest to master.
    • The Half Windsor – Similar in style to the windsor but more compact at over half the size

      • The Trinity – A complex, asymmetric style that draws attention to your tie and defies conventions
      • The Eldredge – One of the most eye catching designs, featuring a large, fish braid style knot
      • The Four in Hand – Simple, versatile and with a tapered, slender finish.

Best Shirt and Tie Combinations

So once you’ve picked your favourite shirt and the best collar to suit you, you can move on to colour. You’re probably sick of shirts by now, but hang on in there, it’ll be worth it when you see the final result. It makes sense that some colours will work better for different people, with colours like white and light blue being universally flattering, and colours like navy and pink not always being an instant ‘good look’ for everyone.

In general, pale skin tones don’t tend to suit pastel colours, so if you’re one of the light skinned men of the world try to avoid pink shirts, and instead opt for darker tones to balance out your complexion.

coloured dress shirts

White Dress Shirt

The most popular of dress shirts and for good reason. A white shirt is basically one of the most versatile pieces you can wear, and when it comes to pairing one with a tie, you can’t really get much wrong. There are colours that work better with others, but generally you can do what you want with a white shirt. Make sure you get a good quality one, ideally made from either 100% cotton, or at least a cotton blend, to make sure you don’t end up with an overly thin, sweat inducing shirt.

white dress shirt
SHOP: Shirts

White Shirt Black Tie

A classic combination and one that’s never failed to bring out a man’s inner style. Black and white can’t really go wrong, and if you’re looking for an sophisticated, timeless look, stick to the white shirt and black tie combination. Whether you go for a thin modern tie or a classic design, the combination will still work perfectly, and this is a style that will be going strong for years.

white shirt black tie look

White Shirt Burgundy Tie

Bright red can be a bit too harsh a contrast for the classic white, so picking a deeper tone is a good choice, helping to balance out the look and create a clean finish. Burgundy goes great with white, and you can get a variety of burgundy tie in different materials to gain different looks. A cotton burgundy tie will give a clean and formal look, while a silk burgundy tie will give more of a sleek and ‘glamorous’ look, with the texture of the material picking up on the subtle red tones.

white shirt burgundy tie

White Shirt Light Blue Tie

This combination is often reserved for the summer because of its light, fresh look and subtle look. Pairing two light colours together can be a risky move, but if you get it right then you can create a striking, yet classic look that works with a range of suits and occasions. If you’re at a summer wedding it’s a great choice, and can keep you looking smart without appearing too formal.

PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Reed | Pinterest | Brideside
PHOTO CREDIT: Austin Reed | Pinterest | Brideside

White Shirt Navy Tie

Navy is often brought in to act as a less intense substitute for black, working great for everything, including, as you might have guessed, ties. If you’ve got a lighter toned suit and you don’t want a heavy black tie, but you still want to keep the formal vibe that comes from one, then a navy is a great compromise.

white shirt navy tie
PHOTO CREDIT: Lookastic | Pinterest

Men’s Navy Shirt

While not the most common colour for shirts, navy is still an option if you’re hoping to achieve a sleek, formal look, and is a good choice to pair with grey and black suits. Able to complement any skin tone, as well as create a subtle slimming effect, a navy shirt is a good option when you want a clean and smart finish.

navy shirt combinations
SHOP: Shirts

Navy Shirt Black Tie

This is more of an intense combination than the previous examples, and the two dark tones together creates a smooth and sophisticated edge that’s perfect for formal affairs. Don with a black or navy suit and you’re all set.

navy shirt black tie look

Men’s Blue Shirt

Perfect for every season, versatile, and with clean and fresh look, blue shirts are the kind of staple pieces that need to be part of men’s wardrobes. Working great with any tone of grey, navy, and cream suits, as well as more casual looks like jeans and chinos, blue shirts are handy for a whole range of styles and looks.

light blue shirt combinations
SHOP: Shirts

Blue Shirt Navy Tie

It’s generally a good idea to not pair shades of the same colour together, but when it comes to navy and blue you can get away with it. The two effortlessly compliment one another, and when black is just a bit too much of a contrast to blue, navy works at giving a clean look without being too intense. Men’s shirts can be difficult to personalise at times, but this colour combination brings out some interest without ever going over the top.

blue shirt and navy tie
PHOTO CREDIT: Stiler | Looktastic

Blue Shirt Pink Tie

Certainly not a look that’s for everyone, but never the less a classic combination and one that’s been around for a good long while. The two light tones together creates a cool, laid back look, despite the formal shape, and is ideal for summer suits and smart casual outfits. To create some variation, try out some patterning on the tie, ensuring that the similarity between the tones isn’t too strong. If you’re looking for a wedding shirt and tie combination then this is a good choice to go for, as the pink tie keeps things casual, light but still with a formal edge.

blue shirt pink tie

Your Quick Guide on Shirt and Tie Combinations

      • Find a collar that works best for the kind of tie you want, making sure to have one with a wide opening if you’re going for a large tie knot.
      • Try out different tie knots to create varying looks, ranging from complex to more classic styles.
      • White shirts go well with most colours, but black, navy, light blue and burgundy are timeless, stylish choices.
      • Navy shirts go best with black ties.
      • Blue shirts are great to pair with both light and dark tones, so navy matches well with it, as well as a less conventional pink.

On That Note

There’s so many different shirt and tie combinations that you can go for, with factors such as occasion, weather, and your personal taste having a big impact on design. Pastel coloured ties can help balance more intense shirts, and versatile shades can mix and match with a number of looks. Keep things simple with traditional ties and knots, or go for more complex looks with patterns, more impressive tie knots and unconventional colour combinations.

Although we’ve given you guidelines here there aren’t necessarily ‘set rules’ on how you should pair your shirt and tie, and sometimes a certain shirt will match perfectly with that new tie you got, even if the colours wouldn’t necessarily appear to match. See which colour combinations work best for you and don’t be afraid to experiment.


Written By
Getting the perfect shirt and tie combinations can be tricky, especially if you’ve got a posh do to go to, but this guide will...
" />