Five Classic Suit, Shirt And Tie Combinations That Never Fail

Categories Fashion

There are certain combinations that always work if you’re not sure about how to use colour in your dressing.

Remember the colour wheels you used to create in second-grade art class — the circle where green would neighbour blue and yellow, opposite red flanked by orange and purple?

Who knew that humble painting would be teaching you sartorial lessons decades later — because the colour wheel holds the key to which suit, shirt, and tie colours clash, and which are complementary.

You’re looking for colours that square off across the colour wheel — blue across from yellow and orange, red staring at green and blue, yellow against blue and purple — because they complement each other. Blue and green? They’re neighbours, and that’s a contrast no-no.

So channel your inner seven-year-old as we step through five complementary suit, shirt and tie combinations that work every time.

Red, white, and blue

No, not a celebration of your American patriotism — rather the matching of a contemporary blue suit with a versatile white shirt and a red tie (think Donald Trump, only better tailored). Hot red and cool blue are the most trusty complementary colours on the wheel, especially when the shirt is a lot gentler than the tie — a powder blue shirt with a deep burgundy tie, for example, or a soft pink shirt with a solid navy tie.

Blue gingham shirt, red tie

A variation of the red, white and blue that adds some detail with the fine check on the shirt — but it’s just one of loads of patterned shirts that pair beautifully with a professional charcoal or slightly more laid-back navy suit. Broader checks, stripes, even paisley if you’re feeling a little like Cam from Modern Family all require a block-colour tie in a complementary colour — think a checked red shirt with a navy tie, or a red striped shirt against a rich green tie.

Tan suit plus blue

Your warm, summery tan suit squares off with cooler hues of blue on the other side of the colour wheel — so tones of blue are a winner here. A soft blue shirt with a navy tie, or even a white shirt with a lighter blue tie, are both reliable partners for this breezy choice of suit colour. Patterns or textures on the tie — a knitted blue silk, for instance, or polka dots — are encouraged.

Fifty shades of blue

While contrasting colours complement each other, so do contrasting shades of the same colour — think about how a dark blue tie makes a light blue shirt pop because of the tonal contrast. And that’s why the navy suit with a powder blue shirt and darker tie — or, for that matter, a grey suit with a blue shirt-and-tie combo — is a winner every time, especially when patterns — like a windowpane suit, a striped shirt, or a patterned tie — add some extra detail to the ensemble.

Black and white

Attentive students will recall that black and white doesn’t feature on the colour wheel — meaning the simple white shirt teams up with virtually every tie ever produced — but a black suit and tie creates the maximum contrast, and produces a timeless, refined look. You need a flawless suit, though, otherwise you’ll look more Uncle Jim at Aunt Mavis’ funeral than a dapper Reservoir Dogs-style operator.