Suit Color Combinations for Your Tie and Shirt

suit color combinations

A suit is a great fashion staple offering an all in one pants and jacket look that can work well for a variety of occasions. However, things can get tricky when adding a tie and shirt. Not only do these two pieces both have to match the suit, they have to match each other as well. However, with a little bit of effort, you can create stand out combinations for your suited look. If you are struggling with getting these three pieces to go together, here are some tips and tricks to help you get the look you are after.

Understanding the Color Wheel

When it comes to matching colors, a basic understanding of the color wheel can help you coordinate anything, whether it be clothing, home décor, graphic design and more. Let’s see how we can use the basic theories of the color wheel to put together a perfectly matching suit.

The color wheel is made up of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, blue and yellow. Secondary colors, like orange, purple and green, can be made by mixing primary and tertiary colors together. These various colors are organized on the wheel according to their shade as primary colors alternate to secondary and tertiary colors and then back to the next primary.

Suit combinations - color wheel

To find colors that will complement each other, choose ones that sit opposite each other on the wheel. For an analogous color scheme, choose colors that sit next to each other on the color wheel, ideally a primary along with two other shades that are a secondary or tertiary of the main color. In working with these color schemes, you may also want to mix in neutrals, which always work well with bold colors as well as other neutrals.

Using this logic, you might want to find a suit that is a primary shade and add a shirt that is a secondary shade of the color and a tie that is a tertiary. Or make the suit the tertiary and the shirt and tie the secondary and primary…or any combination of the three! This will create a suited look that offers an overall monochromatic vibe as well as some contrast.

When thinking of complementary colors, you can get even more adventurous, mixing shades like purples and yellows, reds and greens, blues and oranges. Sound a little crazy to you? Read on to find out how these color combinations can play themselves out against the base of a gray, black or navy suit.

Combinations for a Gray Suit

Gray suits are a fashion must. A great alternative to blacks and navies, grays can be found in lighter and darker shades that may be suited to different temperatures and occasions. While gray might not be right for the most formal of events, they are suitable for meetings, a day at the office, graduations, dinners, cocktail parties and more.

Because gray is a neutral, you will find it will go with a wide variety of colors but we understand how some might get stumped when finding the perfect shirt and tie for this neither white nor black shade. If you are struggling to complete your gray suited look, here are some great suggestions.

Gray suit with red tie

What Color Shirt to Wear With a Gray Suit

When finding that suited look, it’s a good idea to start with a matching shirt. Once you have this down, finding the right tie will be easier.

Black Shirt, Gray Suit

While white is a predictable go to for gray, or really any suit color, black can make an unexpected fashionable contrast. Black shirts are sleek, stylish and slimming and go with any skin tone. They can give your gray suit an air of formality and will work well during the winter months. Invest in a black shirt that is cotton or nylon to avoid creasing.

Gray or Blue Shirt, Gray Suit

Gray and blue are both great color choices that can be worn under a gray suit. Gray will give a sleek monochromatic look and can be worn in a variety of shades. If your suit is a darker gray, you may opt for a light gray shirt while a lighter gray suit may complement a darker gray shirt well.

Blue is another shade that can work with your gray suit in a variety of shades. A sky blue will give off a cool, neutral vibe and can be great for spring when worn with lighter grays. A navy can look sophisticated and regal and will be better suited for the winter months. A bright blue can be a bit overpowering so it is best to stay away from this shade when creating your gray suited look.

White Shirt, Gray Suit

You really can’t go wrong with a white shirt under your gray suit. This classic look will go well with almost any color tie and you can add interest with accessories like cufflinks and tie clips. Be sure not to overpower the look with heavy black shoes; tan will work best.

Purple Shirt, Gray Suit

A purple shirt may seem a bit daring, but it is perfect complement to your gray suit and can really make the color pop. It is great for spicing up home hum days in the work place and can also be ideal for formal occasions.

What Color Tie to Wear with Your Gray Suit

Now that you are familiar with shirt colors that will go with your gray suit, you may think the same colors are safe bets for ties. However, the nature of the shirt, covering the area under your jacket, as opposed to the tie, which offers just a splash of color, can make the options vary when thinking of the best choices. That being said, here are some tie colors that you can choose from.

Purple Tie, Gray Suit

In this case, a purple tie will work well with your gray suit. It adds a perfect splash of color and can be the perfect complement for a blue, white or purple shirt as long as the shades are in the same color family.

Blue Tie, Gray Suit

A blue tie will also work well with your gray suit, but because it is a grounding and focal element in your outfit, it is best to go with a deep or dark blue. Blues give off an impression of trust, intelligence and confidence and can make great for a summer look when paired with a lighter gray suit and white shirt.

Red Tie, Gray Suit

Just like purple, red can give your gray suit a much needed splash of color. Representing strength joy and leadership, the red tie goes well with a black or white shirt.

Black Tie, Gray Suit

A black tie may seem a bit boring after thinking about colors like red and purple. However, it is an elegant and safe choice. You can always wear a black tie that features a print to make it a bit more visually interesting.

Complete Gray Suit Combinations

Now that you have the right shirt and tie, its time to complete your look. Let’s look at a few different color choice options.

Black Shirt, Gray Suit, Complete Look

The more adventurous fashionista may be disappointed, but if you opt for a black shirt under a gray suit, it’s almost always going to look best with a black or gray tie. If you feel like being a bit more daring, you may opt for a mainly black or gray tie that features a pattern. Complete the look with…that’s right, black shoes.

White Shirt, Gray Suit Complete Look

The white shirt, gray suit combo will look good with almost any color tie including our choices of red, blue, black and purple. White shirts will work in any season and provide a crisp, cool look. Brown shoes will be safe with most color choices although black will best complement a black tie.

Blue or Gray Shirt, Gray Suit Complete Look

If you opt for a gray shirt, you can make a great monochromatic look by combining three shades of gray. Make the tie your darkest gray and the shirt your lightest. Finish off the look with brown or black shoes.

Blue can be a bit trickier to work with but will look great whe adding a tie in a similar blue shade for a monochromatic vibe. Dark gray ties can also work, or for the ideal situation, choose a patterned tie that has both grays and blues. Complete the look with brown or black shoes.

Purple Shirt, Gray Suit, Complete Look

A purple shirt will work well with a purple tie if the shades do not clash. Black and dark grays will be suitable as well. Black shoes will be the perfect complement to this outfit.

Black suit with gray tie

Combinations for a Black Suit

You really can’t go wrong with a black suit. It goes well with any number of color combinations and can be versatile for both formal and casual occasions. However, the color shirt and tie you wear with your black suit can make all the difference in how formal of a look you create. Keeping that in mind, here are some style combinations for your black suit look.

What Color Shirt to Wear with a Black Suit

It is popular knowledge that every color matches with black. However, when you have an all over black look, you want to create interest by adding a color that will not be overpowered by the black. Keeping that in mind, here are some great color choices when it comes to what shirts to wear with your black suit.

White Shirt, Black Suit

Of all the colors, a white shirt will be the most casual choice when paired with a black suit. When thinking of ties, think of rich reds and other deep jewel tones.  A print tie that incorporates black or a gray tie will work well too. While a plain black tie will be a perfect match, you also run the risk of looking too formal or even as if you are wearing a uniform.

A black tie and white shirt look can be perfect for the work place and business meetings as well as casual social events.

Gray Shirt, Black Suit

If you want to maintain a casual look with your black suit, but want to add some contrast as well, a gray shirt is the way to go. Gray will not be too much of a stand out, as to look overly formal, but it will elevate your suit to the next level making it terrific for business meetings and more casual social events.

Black Shirt, Black Suit

Black on black is becoming a classic fashion statement when it comes to a suited look. This is a more formal look that is often seen in high fashion print and even for some red carpet occasions. You can make the look your own by wearing a tie that creates interest. The tie will always be the focal point for this look, and you can make yours stand out with deep jewel tones, whites or even a black tie that will with a satiny finish that will create a sense of dimension.

What Color Tie to Wear with Your Black Suit

The tie will work as the central point of your outfit and can really create interest when being added to a black suit. Here are some tie color options that will serve as the perfect complements to your black suited look.

Red Tie, Black Suit

A red tie will always pop on a black suit. Red ties will look best on white shirts, but can also work on blacks, greys and prints making for a great look for the office and less formal social events.

Gray Tie, Black Suit

Because gray is a derivative of black, it will look terrific with any black suit, lending the right amount of style and elegance. When it comes to shirts, almost any color combination will work including black, white, gray and print shirts.

Black Tie, Black Suit

As stated earlier, a black tie may not be the best choice for a white shirt, looking a bit predictable and uniform. However, the black tie, black suit look will work well with almost any color shirt including prints, bold colors, grays, pastels and more.

Complete Black Suit Combinations

If you feel a bit overwhelmed by all these shirt and tie options, here are some guidelines for putting together a complete black suit look.

Black Suit, White Shirt, Complete Look

A black suit and white shirt can make for a great professional or casual look. When it comes to a tie, you can opt for colors like red or gray or go for a print that incorporates black and white with an added splash of color. Complete the look with a great pair of black dress shoes.

Black Suit, Black Shirt Complete Look

When wearing this formal monochrome look, your tie will be the piece de resistance. Create interest by adding a tie in a deep jewel tone like purple or red. White can cause an interesting contrast as well. Complete the look with a cool pair of black dress shoes or boots.

Black Suit, Gray Shirt, Complete Look

A black suit and gray shirt can make a great professional look and can also be ideal for less formal social occasions. When thinking about the tie, it’s important to consider the monochromatic vibe of the outfit. To maintain that aesthetic, add a black tie or explore different shades of gray. If you want to add color, think of a print tie that features black, gray and red which will add color interest without overdoing it. Complete the look with black or gray dress shoes.

Navy suit with navy tie

Combinations for a Navy Suit

The navy suit has stood the test of time as a classic piece that is great for professional and social occasions.  A great alternative to black, the navy suit adds color interest that can work with a number of other shades and tones. It also can be more suitable for spring and summer months, when black seems a bit heavy. If you are wondering what shirt and tie combinations will complete your navy suited look, read on for some great suggestions.

What Color Shirt to Wear with Your Navy Suit

Because navy is the most colorful of all the suit choices in this article, some may get nervous about trying to find the perfect color shirt. However, it is important to remember that navy works well as a neutral. Therefore, it may be surprising to some to find out how many color combinations will complement the look. Don’t be afraid to be a bit daring when trying out these shirt colors with your navy suit.

White Shirt, Navy Suit

A white shirt will work well with almost any color suit, and the navy suit is no exception. This is a simple timeless look that never fails to be crisp, understated and elegant. To add interest to your look, think of unusual color combinations you can make when adding your tie or change things up by wearing a granddad or mandarin shirt collar.

Blue Shirt, Navy Suit

Most shades of blue will work well together, so why not put a blue shirt under your navy suit? The different shades will provide a monochromatic look while offering some contrast. To achieve this look, go for a shirt that is a lighter color than your suit, preferably a pastel. Denims may not work and darker blues can clash. This fresh blue on blue look will work well for professional and less formal social occasions.

Pink Shirt, Navy Suit

A pink shirt will add color interest to your navy suit and brighten it up for a summery look. When thinking pink, almost any shade will work. Go for a pastel for a colorful variation on a white shirt or wear a bolder, brighter pink for an exciting color contrast. The pink will give a fun and casual vibe but can still work well for professional and less formal social occasions.

Print Shirt, Navy Suit

Printed shirts can work well under a navy suit, particularly if the print incorporates some sort of blue or navy color. When adding a print shirt under a suit, it is best to go for subtle prints that will not overpower the suit. Go for pinstripes and smaller checked patterns. Depending on the print you go for, you can make for an overall look that is elegant, or fun and casual.

What Color Tie to Wear with Your Navy Suit

Now that you have successfully found shirt and suit color combinations, the prospect of adding a tie may seem a bit daunting. But never fear; here are some great tie colors that will work well with your navy suit.

Red Tie, Navy Suit

A red tie has been a traditional color choice for a navy suit. It’s important that this look does not over do it on the primary colors, so it is best to wear a tie that is a deeper red or even a burgundy. A light print will work well on a red tie as well.

Navy blue suit with red tie

Orange Tie, Navy Suit

This may seem a bit far out for some men, but the right shade of orange will really pop against a navy suit. Think of a tangerine tone and a silky material for a look that is bold, confidant, high fashion and elegant.

Navy Tie, Navy Suit

A navy tie will work well with your navy suit and almost any color shirt. It will bring your look together in a way that is smart and sophisticated. A print that includes a navy color will work well as well, especially when including colors like gold, red, white and other blues.

Green Tie, Navy Suit

When thinking of creating color interest for your navy suit look, green can be a great choice. A silky green tie can really pop, causing a similar statement to that of the orange tie. If you want a more regal, toned down look, opt for a deeper shade in more traditional tie materials.

Complete Navy Suit Combinations

Now that you have a good idea of shirt and tie combinations that will go with your navy suit look, here are some great suggestions for how you can put them all together.

White Shirt, Navy Suit, Complete Look

With a white shirt and navy suit, the possibilities are endless and almost any tie will work including all of the above mentioned oranges, golds, reds and blues. A number of shoe combinations will work to complete this look as well including black, brown and navy.

Blue Shirt, Navy Suit, Complete Look

Another extremely versatile look, you can create a monochromatic appearance that adds contrast with a blue shirt and navy tie. This will work best with shirts that are lighter shades of blue. Red ties will also work well for this look. For footwear, opt for dress shoes in shades of black, brown or navy. A burgundy will also work well with a red tie, balancing the shade out nicely.

Pink Shirt, Navy Suit, Complete Look

Your pink shirt will give you navy suit a fun and fashionable edge. However, it’s important that you don’t overdo it on the color. Therefore, you will be best off adding a navy tie which will bring the look together nicely. You might want to go a bit lighter on the shoes to balance out the look, opting for browns and burgundies and opposed to heavy blacks.

Print Shirt, Navy Suit, Complete Look

Here again, you don’t want to make your look too overwhelming by adding a print tie or one that introduces a new color to your outfit. A navy tie will be a safe bet although you may also be able to go for other colors that may be incorporated in your shirt’s print. Although the best shoe choices may also depend on the color of the print on your shirt, brown will always be a safe bet.

Finding the Right Suit

When you are looking for a suit, picking the right one can be a daunting task. When considering color, any of these can work well and the one you choose may depend on the occasion you need it for, the season you will be wearing it in, what best complements your coloring and your personal preference. But one thing that is imperative is finding the right fit in whatever suit you choose. Here are some things to keep in mind when finding a suit that provides a great fit.

  • The shoulder: The shoulder should lie flat with the seam being the same length as the bone under it and meeting where your arm meets your shoulder. It is important to get the fit of the shoulder right as this is a feature you will not be able to alter in the future.

  • The jacket closure: The jacket should close easily over your mid section without bunching or straining. There should not be a ripple effect when the jacket closes, nor should there be any gaps appearing between the buttons. Lapels should not hang, but sit nicely against the chest.

  • Jacket sleeve length: The old standby is that your jacket sleeve should hit so that an inch of linen hangs out of the jacket. The jacket sleeve should not cover your shirt sleeve completely, nor should it leave too much of it exposed. Another measure is to ensure the sleeve terminates just above the large bone in the wrist.

  • Jacket Length: A jacket should fall past the waist and drape over the top of the curve formed by the buttocks. Hands are also a good marker in that the hem of the jacket should hit around the middle of the hand, just where the fingers meet the palm.

  • Jacket Collar: A poor fitting collar can be pretty noticeable. Your jacket collar should rest against your shirt collar, which, in turn, will rest against your lapel. If you collar is too loose, it will cause a gap at the back of your neck. If the collar is too tight, bunching and folds will appear underneath it.

  • The Seat of the Pants: The back of the trousers should provide a smooth drape over the rear end. It will lie loosely against your underpants without creating sags (a sign of a loose fit) or straining (a sign of a tight fit).

  • Trouser Break: The trouser break is the small wrinkle that appears where the top of your shoe stops your trouser cuff from falling to its full length. This should be a small, subtle feature. If there is excessive creasing at this juncture, an alteration may be needed.

A suit is a great fashion item, providing a smart, put together look that can work well for professional and social occasions. However, finding the right shirt and tie for your suit can be challenging. Explore your options to come up with interesting color combinations that can be bold and elegant while creating contrast and interest. Hopefully this guide will inspire you to come up with some classic and unique looks that will ensure you are always dressed to impress.

About the author

Jack Prenter

Jack has been fascinated by fashion for decades and spent huge amounts of time researching it and becoming an expert. He's written for many well-known publications and is in the process of opening an online clothing store for men. Jack studied at the University of Nottingham and is now based out of Toronto, Canada.