how to match shirts

How to Match Shirts

Picking the right tie to match your shirt is an age-old problem. The problem lies in the fact that we often buy what we like at the time without a thought to what we already have in our closet. It’s a failure in our approach to shop with any sense and direction. We’ve all fallen prey to our basic instincts, which are to grab something you like and leave the mall or shop as quickly as possible.

So, then, how do we combat these issues and build an army of shirts and ties that actually work together? I have a very simple policy that I follow when I purchase these two things and that is stick to light-coloured shirts and dark-coloured ties. Perhaps it’s not the most interesting of ideas, but it works every time and brings us back to the basics.

Adhering to a policy like this makes sense because it will basically guarantee that every shirt you have will work with every tie you have. It makes sense to me too, because the idea of a dark shirt and a tie is rarely pulled off with any success. It reminds me of how young men dress at their high-school graduations. You know the look I’m talking about; dark-red shirt with a black tie that’s either far too wide or far too skinny.

That idea leads me to the next point, which is how to match shirts and ties in terms of proportions. I understand that this is not something you probably think about often, but it should be. You want your tie widths and collar sizes to be proportional. If you have a favourite shirt brand, take stock of the size of the collar. If, for instance, you only wear Tom Ford shirts, you’ll notice that the collars are quite large. If you’re wearing a shirt with a large collar, the tie you choose to wear with that shirt should be fairly substantial.

I don’t mean the ‘80s style bibs, but something greater than three inches wide. If you pair a large collar with a skinny tie the knot will then be smaller and be hidden beneath the collar, thus throwing the balance of your look completely off kilter. I do recommend sticking to certain brands if you can. I talk about Eton a lot here (my dress shirt brand of choice) because what they do, like a lot of labels, is offer a number of different collar styles that are all similar sizes. It gives you flexibility and variety without forcing you to think too much about it.

The third point I have, while you bear in mind the other two is about shirt and tie patterns. I understand that some of you like to wear loud ties because they’re “fun” and “funky.” Don’t do this. If you think dressing like Chris Berman is a good look than things just may not work out between you and I

Chris Berman

You can play around with patterns but do so subtly. It’s a better look to mix up tie fabrics than it is to go with wild and bright patterns. The idea here is that if you’re going to wear something boldly patterned be sure to pair it with something that isn’t. If you have a loud shirt wear a plain tie, and if you have a loud tie pair it with an understated shirt. Loud on loud leads to predictably poor results. There’s too much going on and it will look like you’re trying too hard to be “funky.” Fit and proportion are what get you the looks you want, not a barrage of bright reds and flowers.


Like everything we talk about here, it’s important to remember that balance is your friend. Everything should be working in concert; it shouldn’t look like you picked three or four things and just assumed they would work. Don’t forget the three ideas I laid out here, because these will keep you grounded and stylish:

  • Light shirts and dark ties; everything you own should be able to work together;
  • Keep your tie widths and collar sizes similar; large collars work with wider ties and smaller collars work with slimmer ties;
  • If one piece of the look is bold balance it out with something understated; bold tie, plain shirt. Bold shirt, plain tie.


Keep to these rules to match your shirts and ties. Perhaps you won’t always dazzle, but you’ll never look bad.

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