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Posted by Danielle Harvey on 12 March 2021
Suits come in all shapes and sizes... and colours, and patterns, and shades too, come to think of it. In fact, there's a lot to think about when choosing a suit — and that's before you even consider what shirt or tie to wear alongside it.
So how do you match your suit to your shirt and tie? Menswear retailer, Slater Menswear have created a definitive guide on how to get the balance right. Although trends come and go, there are certain staples when it comes to choosing a suit that have stood the test of time. In this guide, we've outlined how to create a look that will always come out on top.
Colour theory is more than just a tool for artists. It can (and should) be used when putting together an outfit to create a winning combination. By using the colour wheel as a starting point, you can see which colours work well together and which should be avoided.
As you have three potential colours to play with — your shirt, tie and suit — you still have the freedom to be creative, the colour wheel simply gives you a helpful starting point.
There are three main ways you can implement colour theory to help you mix and match your clothing:
Method 1: Monochromatic
You've probably already heard the term 'monochrome' before; relating to a single colour throughout. Rather than picking and choosing colours, this approach makes use of a range of tones to differentiate between each article of clothing. This conservative combination is the easiest way to implement colour theory and creates a foolproof, harmonious look. As long as each item is its own distinct shade, you can't go wrong.
Method 2: Complementary
Complementary colour schemes are the most striking. They consist of colours that sit opposite one another on the colour wheel, like blue and orange or red and green. These colour combinations provide a high contrast and appear more prominent. Take caution when choosing this approach. Bold tones can be too jarring when used together. A good approach is to choose a single bold colour choice with more muted accent colours.
Method 3: Analogous
This option uses colours that sit adjacent to each other on the colour wheel. This offers more versatility in tones, yet must be used carefully to avoid being overwhelming. Experiment with a strong traditional colour and those that appear next to it to strike the right balance. For example, if you have a navy suit as your base colour, pair it with a sky-blue shirt and a purple tie. This combo utilises analogous colour schemes in a way that creates a sophisticated, well-put-together finish.
Finding the right tie
As well as finding the right colour palette, choosing the right tie can make or break the look of your outfit. When picking a tie to wear, you want to create another level of contrast between the shirt and suit. As we've already discussed, the colour of your tie is crucial, as is the pattern. Here are some things to consider when deciding on a pattern for your tie.
If you're wearing a patterned shirt, opting for a tie that echoes the design is a great way to bring an outfit together. The trick is to emphasise the pattern of one item, not both. If, for instance, you're wearing a thinly striped shirt, a tie with thick, bold stripes will add a level of consistency without detracting from any particular piece of clothing. The best part is that it works both ways, so a tie with a small checked pattern complements a shirt featuring larger checks.
Taking a different route, a contrasting tie pattern can help to make it pop as part of your ensemble. A polka dot tie accompanying a striped shirt is a great example of how different patterns work strongly together. If this is the avenue you're taking, however, it's best to choose a bigger pattern for your tie and a smaller one for the shirt. This way, you draw attention to the tie and capitalise on the contrasting styles.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to draw attention to your shirt, a solid tie is a conservative way to pull focus to where it needs to be. By correctly using colour theory, you can choose a solid tie that fits in with the palette of your outfit and choose a statement shirt with a bolder pattern like paisley.