Wearing a solid suit, dress shirt, and tie is considered conservative by today’s style standards. I find that when you add a few patterns it creates interest, conveys fashion power, and shows you are in touch with the latest trends. Staying aware of classic business fashion is important for those who want to be perceived as innovative businessmen who remain on the leading edge of the business world during these dramatically changing times. Before stepping into the limelight with a more classic-modern look, it’s important to first know how to mix and match the patterns of the dress shirt and tie.
Mastering the composition of those patterns conveys that you put deliberate thought into how you are perceived in order to get an intentional outcome – a quality sought in any leading executive. Here are a few rules to remember in that regard, which those of us in the image industry call the “rules of coordination.”
Mastering the Composition
Just like a great piece of art or an interior design of a home, your wardrobe needs to tell one coherent story by integrating color, texture, prints, scale, and the personality of your authentic style. When mixing shirt and tie combos always remember to incorporate these four elements of composition into your selection:
1) Colors – Hues Need to Coordinate
When thinking of your suit, dress shirt, and tie ensemble it is important to blend one color through two of the items to give you color-coordinated balance. When wearing a multicolored tie, for example, pick one color in the tie to match to the color tone of either the suit or the shirt. Then rather than having the look of thrown-together separates you’ll show a coherent sense of style.
2) Chroma – Bright, Bold, Muted, or Light
Add a little dash of color to your suited look, deciding what level of color intensity you need to blend with your attire. But when wearing a bright-colored tie be sure to pair it with a muted dress shirt – or vice-versa. Color worn around your face creates a great focal point, but be sure to wear brighter colors in smaller doses for business dress. A red tie, for instance, is a great power color addition for any business professional.
3) Design – Polka-dots, Geometrics, Plaids, and Stripes
Designs and prints add interest to any outfit. A man’s tie is a statement of his style and a reflection of his personality, so find a few ties that you love to give your classic suit a more cosmopolitan flair. Striped ties are great because they can slim down a man’s silhouette by directing the viewer’s eye in a vertical line. If your tie rack is filled with solids, invest in a few prints that resonate with your own unique style.
4) Scale – Size and Proportion of Prints
Think of scale when mixing similar prints, remembering to incorporate different sizes of designs in the shirt and tie to look like a really sharply dressed man. A shirt with a large pattern, for example, coordinates nicely with a necktie that has a similar type of print executed in a smaller design, and vice versa.
Mix and Match Combos
Striped Shirt and Patterned Tie
Select a tie with small polka dots or small geometric shapes to create contrast and interest. If you decide to wear a striped shirt and a striped tie, it is important to remember to wear stripes of a different scale – otherwise it will look like you just layered two of the same prints, and the effect will be lost or cancel itself out to detract from your look.
Striped Shirt and Micro-Patterned Tie
I personally love this modern look which commands a powerful presence. But remember to keep the stripes in the shirt and the tie within the same tonal range of color.
Checked Shirt and Checked Tie
Applying the scale rule, you will look best wearing a large-check shirt with a smaller-check tie. This look is also more casual because the prints add a more relaxed feel to your ensemble.
Patterned Shirt and Solid Tie
In this combination the tie must coordinate with some of the color tones in the shirt for it to look intentional. Try to focus on a single color if you can, to blend the two pieces of clothing together. Or choose a color from the suit fabric and coordinate with it.
Solid Shirt and Patterned Tie
This look is more formal and conservative and conveys a distinguished look of success. In more conservative business environments, this tends to be the uniform. When selecting a patterned tie, be sure to stay abreast of the latest trends and let those guide your choices and purchases.
Once you master an understanding of the rules of wardrobe coordination, you can easily convert your basic business look into one that is more versatile and offers stylish color and print combinations to wear with your classic-modern suit.