Photo: Getty Images/Christopher Polk
Like sporting a full-face sunburn, an ill-advised suit-tie combination tells you so much about how a man takes care of himself, his priorities and what he aspires to be.
Finding a combination that projects the personality and lifestyle you want is essential in your quest for self-improvement.
The good thing is that once you master some basic steps in the selection process, it becomes easy to play with colours, fabrics and patterns, and to tweak your threads for any occasion.
In this article, we’ll review classic suit-and-tie (and shirt) commandments and then give you some of-the-moment examples for how these rules can be applied in real life.
Basic Rules For Matching Suits & Ties
1. If you don’t know what shirt to wear, choose a white one. White shirts go with pretty much any tie.
2. No matter how amazing the match between a suit and tie, an uncoordinated shirt will throw the entire outfit from a “do” to a “don’t.” Knowing this, keep the following rules of coordination in mind:
-Light tan shirts match with brown ties.
-Light pink shirts match with burgundy or navy blue ties
-Light blue shirts complement red, navy, yellow or burgundy ties
-When dealing with striped shirts, determine what its base colour is and coordinate with colours as above. Just make sure the stripes on the shirt do match the stripes or pattern on the tie.
3. A suit with a solid base of dark colours is the safest way to emphasise solid, bold-coloured ties.
4. Pattern sizes (stripes, etc.) across your suit, shirt and tie need to vary — nothing looks weirder than a man who is wearing the same pattern on every layer.
The Perfect Suit & Tie Combinations For Modern Men
There are many instances in life when a suit and tie is either required, desired or advised. Unfortunately if you’re matching the same suit and tie for the resort as you are for the red carpet, you are going to need some help. Here are the perfect suit and tie combinations every man needs, starting in order of importance.
The Classic Power Combination
Whether it’s for a life-changing meeting, job interview or a business trip, the classic power combination of a dark, solid or slightly pinstriped suit with a bold-coloured tie is a cornerstone of every man’s wardrobe.
Though teaming a dark suit with a classic white shirt allows you to choose almost any tie pairing short of one with bright yellow polka dots, a traditionally yet impeccably cut deep-red tie has been a go-to “power” look since John Kennedy wore the pairing in his first presidential debate.
The Formal Combination
After the suit and tie a man wears to work, the most crucial combination in a man’s closet is best described with two magic words: “black tie.” A classic black suit paired with a classic black tie or bow tie is one of the most painless combinations to pull off for most men, but can also make a guy feel like he’s lost all of his personality for the sake of formality. Is that’s the case for you, try to find unique bow ties, like this one with artsy lace mesh from Marwood in order to get some second looks.
The Summer Combination
One of the worst habits men adopt is continuing to choose the same dark-suit and bold-tie combo they wore all winter, when the temperature has risen 70 degrees. Thankfully, making the jump to warm-weather suits, shirts and ties is a liberating experience, and allows guys to experiment with a new mix of formality and fun.
The rules for summer suit-tie combinations? First find a solid, light-coloured cotton suit with a good cut that also allows you to move in the summer heat. Then, the fun part: choosing a provocatively patterned, bright tie in shades like pink that would be unacceptable for the other six months of the year.
The Casual Combination
Any suit-and-tie combination worn before noon on the weekend should have a sense of whimsy about it. To find a look for those occasions that don’t involve your usual 9-to-5 work responsibilities, take the colour of your power suit and find a suit a few shades lighter, like this light navy blue one from H&M.
Likewise, find a tie a few shades lighter than your favourite power tie that also throws in a mix of wild patterns with other colours, like this one from Tommy Hilfiger.
As this is your combination that is most likely to clash, test your look with a couple of off-white or very light-coloured shirts to ensure that everything pulls together in the end.
tie one, er… four on
While many guys have been brought up to think of a suit and tie as an unwanted uniform, the Better Man sees his suit-tie combinations as empowering — a way of expressing taste, personality and an idea of his perfect self.
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