A Cheat Sheet To Matching Your Suit, Shirt, and Tie

If suits, shirts and ties came only in black and white, life would be so much simpler for suit-wearing men. Then again, that would also make the world look like one big, never-ending cocktail party. The variety in colors in men’s wear reflects the variety of occasions a man might go through in his life. Weddings, business affairs, black-tie events, daytime parties, night time parties – it’s endless.

And so are the potential permutations for suit-and-tie combos. Not all permutations work. How do you know which ones do and which ones don’t? Our handy guide below will make things so much simpler for you, dear coat-wearing companion. You’re free to break the rules of fashion but only do so when you know the actual rules, we always say.

Black Suit




The profile: Black suits are strict and are inflexible.

Wear it at: Strict business occasions or “black-tie optional” events

What shirts to pair it with: The black suit, due to its neutral nature looks good with just about any shirt. But due to the suit’s formal nature, stick with shirts with basic solid colors, rather than those with funky patterns.

What ties to wear it with: If you followed our solid color suggestion, the tie should be of solid color too that’s a shade bolder than your shirt.


Charcoal Suit


The profile: Almost black, but far less strict in vibe.

Wear it at: Evening parties, business functions

What shirts to pair it with: White and light blue shirts work well with the charcoal–without looking too severe as you would with a black-and-white shirt-and-suit combo.

Wear ties to wear it with: The white and light blue shirts you’ll be wearing the suit with, makes it easy to pair it with any kind of tie–whether patterned or solid ones. But since you’ll mostly be wearing a charcoal suit to formal events, a good rule of thumb is to avoid ties with big novelty patterns. Instead, opt to go for those with a lightly-patterned look just to give texture to your appearance.


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Navy Suit



The profile: A very versatile suit that can be dressed down according to the occasion.

Wear it at: Daytime and nighttime functions, business events.

What shirts to pair it with: Given the suit’s versatility, you can wear anything from conservative blues to brighter pairings with light pinks and lavenders. There are just a few colors to avoid: black and navy itself.

What ties to pair it with: The navy is a fun suit to wear so go with lightly striped ties or those with subtle repeating patterns. When wearing such ties though make sure that the background color of your tie doesn’t replicate the color of your shirt. For example, when wearing a light pink shirt, don’t go with a tie that is primarily light pink as that will not create enough contrast to bring your look to life.



Light Grey Suit


The profile: A very casual suit that shouldn’t be worn in formal functions

Wear it at: Daytime parties

What shirts to pair it with: As a casual suit, you’re more relaxed and it’s easier to experiment more with patterned combination. So for this one, avoid the primary, solid colors, and have fun with striped shirts and checkered shirts. Still though, it’s a suit, so the smarter play is to choose striped and checkered patterns that are muted rather than loud.

What ties to pair it with: There are two rules to follow when matching a patterned shirt with a patterned tie. First, don’t pair similarly-sized patterns. For shirts with small checkered patterns, don’t pair them with ties that have checkered patterns of a similar size. Secondly, match the casualness of the tie with the shirts. Like with the color rule, the tie should feel a little more playful than the shirt.


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