“4 Rules on How to Match Dress Shirts and Ties”

If you know me, then you know I am a lover of men’s style.

My love for style goes all the way back to my childhood, and the values that my parents instilled in me – mainly my father. My father was a police officer for 27 years, and wore a uniform to work everyday. He had impeccable creases in his pants and the whitest of white tees worn as the undershirt under his uniform. His medals and shoes were always shined, his face neatly shaven and his hair always well-kept. But outside of work, my father always kept a stylish casual wardrobe too, so no matter if he was professional or casual, he was always well put-together.

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

– Rachel Zoe

I have always had my own style, that was different from others. It began back in high school with J. Riggins men’s clothing store, where they always offered casual shirt and chino combos. I used to buy those outfits and match them up with my different colored Reeboks with the bubble-gum bottoms. In college, my style evolved to include football jerseys, Air Force Ones and penny loafers. When I started working professionally and wearing suits everyday that I was able to showcase another layer of my personal style – suits. While I love the classic look of a white dress shirt, I wanted to separate myself from the pack. I wasn’t going overboard, but I wanted to show people that you can use patterns in your shirts and ties to showcase your style while still looking professional.

“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.”

– G. Bruce Boyer

Now I will admit, not everyone can do this, so in order to match your shirts and ties, I offer up these four rules to help:

Contrast. The most important thing you should remember is contrast. By definition, contrast is the state of being strikingly different from something else. So that means for your plain colored dress shirts, opt for a tie that is bright in color. That tie can be solid, but try a two-toned striped tie with thick and thin stripes or a plaid tie. For your striped and plaid dress shirts, opt for a tie with polka dots or some other geometric shape. In choosing the right tie for your striped or plaid dress shirt, select a tie with the same base color as the stripes or plaids in your shirt. If you want to push yourself, then select a tie with polka dots or geometric shapes that are the same color as the stripes or the plaids in your shirt.

Color. It is important to know how colors interact with one another. I’ve noticed that a lot of men like to wear plain blue dress shirts. While you can do different shades of blue for your shirt and tie, you should switch it up with a complementing color. For example, a blue shirt is complemented very well with a pink, red, orange or purple tie. If you’re wearing a plain white dress shirt, choose a bright colored tie with white stripes, white polka dots or white geometric shapes.

Shapes. Men need to start thinking more about wearing items that compliment their body types. Certain shapes will give your body certain illusions. A plaid shirt tends to make you look wider, and stripes tend to make you look slimmer. So depending upon how your body is shaped and how you want people to look at you, choose wisely – plaids or stripes.

Complement your suit or blazer. I am not a fan of wearing a shirt and tie without a suit, blazer or a sweater – so I never recommend it. Your top piece, whether it is a suit jacket, blazer or sweater needs to complement your shirt and tie. Far too often, men’s ensembles are fighting, where the the mix of patterns and colors clash. For most men, the safest route is to have one of your items be something without a pattern to have balance. So if your shirt and tie have patterns, go with a solid color suit, blazer or sweater. If your shirt is plain, and your tie is patterned, choose a suit, blazer or sweater that is in contrast to your tie. For only the most fashion-forward man, would I recommend a patterned suit, a patterned shirt and patterned tie – it’s very hard to pull off.

Now that you’ve got some guidelines for your wardrobe, what will you experiment with?

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