Are you in a dilemma when it comes to choosing the proper tie to match your dress shirt? It’s easy to go the solid tie route but why stay safe when you can mix and match patterns? Understanding color repetition and pattern size is the key to getting it right.

Start with the shirt

A tie tends to be the first thing one notices but it all begins with the color of the shirt. Once you’ve made your shirt selection, choose its dominant color or a color from the pattern and repeat it in the tie. The repetition of color “ties” the two together (forgive the pun!).

Know your color wheel

Color wheel to mix and match printsYou don’t have to be an artist to know that certain colors go together better than others. Start with your basic three primary colors—red, yellow and blue—then go from there.

  • Contrasting colors such as orange, green and violet are those separated by three colors. They are the easiest to match. If your shirt is light blue, pick a tie that’s from the red or yellow family. We’re talking burgundy pink or mustard. If your shirt is pink, go for ties with shades of purple, green or blue.
  • Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. This scheme tends to be bold and better suited for outside the business environment. Blue shirts can handle ties with dark orange in them. Greens can handle reds but don’t go all Christmas on us!
  • Analogous colors are adjacent to each other and somewhat close in color. Choose one hue that’s darker than the others.
  • If you insist on a monochromatic look, wear colors within the same color family but choose different shades such as a light blue shirt with a vibrant blue solid tie. The same color and tone spell b-o-r-i-n-g.

Size matters

To mix and match patterns successfully, the size of the patterns should be different. You want the patterns to look good together, not compete with each other! A wide striped tie does nothing for a shirt with a similarly bold, wide stripe.

  • Small checked and narrow striped shirts appear almost solid from a distance so they can stand a bolder tie that has a pattern to it. Think polka dots, paisleys and geometrics.
  • Vary the direction of stripes for contrast—a tie with horizontal or diagonal stripes contrasts nicely with a shirt that has vertical stripes.
  • You don’t need to limit yourself to solid colored ties with plaid shirts. Subtle patterns add a bit of pizzazz but remember, we said, “subtle.”


Silk ties denote business or dress attire and are best worn for such occasions. Knits and wool ties have wonderful textures that have not attained as much popularity with dress shirts but are working their way up the casual ladder of textured shirts such as denim and flannel. Perfect for when a sport coat is not needed.

As you can see, when matching ties with shirts there’s really no need to stay in the same rut. Give that color wheel a spin, consider the size and scale of patterns and get started on a new, confident look.

Color Wheel Image By Jewelry Wise




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