Man standing in sharp dark plaid suit with brick-colored patterned tie.

A Man’s Guide to Matching Suits, Shirts, and Ties

Talya WoolfFeb 23, '21

This is your cheat sheet on how to match up your suits like a pro!

Have you ever wondered if there are rules to follow that can ensure you look great in whatever you’re wearing?

There are indeed rules and we are about to share them with you!

You will generally be working with three main pieces: your suit, shirt, and tie (or bow tie). For the best effect, you want to coordinate the three, but not look too matchy-matchy either. If you follow the below rules, you should be good to go!

Plaid suit, striped shirt, striped tie on mannequin.

    This above combination displays a suit with a plaid pattern, a striped shirt, a striped tie, and two different patterned pocket squares - a very busy look with numerous patterns indeed! The stripes are practically the same width, the plaid print is extremely subtle, but all the colors are coordinated. So does this look work? As you read these rules, you can decide for yourself.

    1. Up to TWO of your pieces can have patterns; the third should be a solid print (unless you’re a billboard or fashion expert (or faux pas?) like our mannequin above - for everyone else, limit yourself to two patterns).
    2. If your two patterns are the same, they should have different scales of size (for example, a suit with prominent stripes can be matched with a tie with thin stripes. A shirt with a small plaid can be paired with a tie with a large plaid design).
    3. If your two patterns are different, they should have the same scale (for example, a large plaid could be paired with a large paisley, not a small one).
    4. This one’s a given, but deserves to be stated nonetheless: all colors should match and look good together. 

    BONUS: Another consideration is the width of your tie. If the tie is slim, it should be worn with a suit with slim lapels. Likewise, if a tie is normal to wide-width, it should be worn with a suit with normal to wide lapels (like this suit here).

    Plaid suit, printed tie, white shirt on a mannequin

    Based on the above numbered rules, here are several combinations over which to ruminate:

    SOLID SUIT

    • Solid suit, striped tie, striped shirt. With this combo, one should refer to rule #2 and make sure one has a wider stripe than the other.
    • Solid suit, striped tie, plaid shirt. In this combo, keep in mind the above rule #3. Stripes and plaids are two different patterns, so you have to keep the scales similar. Try a narrow stripe with a mini check, or a wide stripe with a large plaid.
    • BONUS: Solid suit, paisley/polka dot tie, striped shirt. This one seems like a hard one to pull off, but, in reality, as long as you keep the scales of the pattern at a similar size, this is a great looking combination!

    STRIPED SUIT

    • Striped suit, solid shirt, striped tie (of a different scale).
    • Striped suit, solid shirt, plaid/polka dot tie (of the same scale).
    • BONUS: Striped suit, striped shirt (of a different scale), and a coordinating/contrasting solid colored tie.

    PLAID SUIT

    • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a plaid tie (of a different scale).
    • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a striped tie (of the same scale).
    • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a paisley/polka dot tie (of the same scale).
    • Plaid suit, striped shirt, and a solid tie, all in coordinating colors.
    • BONUS: Plaid suit, plaid shirt (of a different scale), and a solid tie. This one is a hard one to pull off, but if you have guts and confidence, go for it!

    Just remember, these are all guidelines to make dressing up easier. If you have a combination not mentioned above that works for you, go for it! As long as you feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, and you're wearing the suit (the suit isn't wearing you), feel free to invent your own rules.

    Are there any tips not mentioned here? Please comment below to let us know what are your 'tried and true' methods for matching ties and suits.

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