A navy suit is perhaps the most versatile suit a man can own. We’re unabashed fans of navy here too, because of that durability.
The thing that can sometimes make working with a navy suit difficult is that it’s a blank canvas, therefore not offering any ideas as to what will work best with it and what won’t. Choosing the right shirt and tie to work with a suit is what often separates the sartorially inclined from those who have little clue what they’re doing.
Often men will layer on pattern, or feel obligated to match their shirt and/or tie to some subtle stripe in the suit or their socks or underwear or whatever. The effort should be commended, but this is something my mother has always tried to instill in me, so naturally I bristle at the very idea (she’s a nice lady but her penchant for matching borders on the absurd).
Asking these questions is good, though; if no one ever asks the question than it won’t ever get answered. Luckily, with navy the basics all work quite well so there are some easy pairings here that don’t require too much thought. It’s important to remember that it’s nice to have an accent piece with each look, something that will stand out, even if only slightly, above the rest of the pieces. These can be simple things like a patterned tie or a tie bar, a pocket square or a splashy pair of shoes; something to break up the monotony.
Today we’ll discuss what shirts work with navy suits- the things that will always be natural pairings, some things that sound new and interesting, as well as the shirts that should always be avoided.
Much if this will seem self-explanatory, but it’s important info to stow away for a later date when doubt begins to creep in. With that in mind, let’s talk about what we see as the best navy blue suit combinations.
Yes, this is painfully obvious. Every man should have a few white shirts in their closet as the white dress shirt not only works with any suit in the closet, but can work casually as well (always tucked in).
What needs to be thought of when wearing a white shirt, though, is what should be paired with it as an accent piece. White on navy, while classic and sharp, can be a bit boring if the suit and shirt are both without pattern. This would be a fine time to throw on a tie with a bit of personality, perhaps something with a plaid pattern or a knit tie in a bolder shade, or a bright pocket square or tie bar.
Img Credit: Style Me Pretty (Top) , Looktastic (Left), Pinterest (Right)
Top: Navy suit white shirt and a knit tie. Left: A tad boring, but the proportions are on point. Right: Behn’s mother would approve, orange is a little loud for me but it makes the point.
A white shirt and navy suit will almost always look good, but nailing down the look with the details is what will take it over the top.
The great part about adding accents is that it can be done for cheap. We always believe that the suit should be a quality one, ensuring a fine fit and years of wear, whereas one can skimp a bit on the accessories or find a cheaper shirt, without looking like it. A great resource for cheap accessories is The Tie Bar. cool pockets squares, ties, and tie bars, all for a very reasonable price. It’s certainly worth checking out for inexpensive ways to elevate even the most mundane of looks.
A very underrated shirt option that’s becoming a staple in men’s wear is the pink shirt. Now, that’s not to say that all pinks work, because this simply isn’t true. The pink that should be a staple is the dusty pink that a lot of men are now wearing.
It’s as versatile as a light blue or a white, but adds a pop of colour that those other two colours do not. Not only this, but it’s the perfect foil for a darker navy suit, offering a great balance of light and dark, as well as softening the harsher shades of navy.
Now, where this differs from a white shirt is that a pink shirt should be the accent piece in any outfit as it still stands out quite a bit. When wearing a pink shirt with a navy suit it’s best to keep the other pieces relatively muted.
A white pocket square, and a simple tie in a dark tone will go a long way in making this a go-to shirt and suit combination (it’s worth noting here that the best way to pair shirts and ties is to stick with a simple method of light shirt/dark tie. It’s fairly fool proof and will make matching any shirt and tie a whole hell of a lot easier).
It’s important to state right off the bat here that this is definitely a next-level move. For those who are a little timid when it comes to taking a risk, sartorially speaking, pairing a black shirt with a navy suit is best left on the wayside.
BUT, this can look really great if done properly. We don’t often tout the benefits of the black dress shirt, and that’s for good reason. The black dress shirt is too often the go-to for men when white or light blue should be. It often fits wrong and is paired with a red tie or some other abomination to look like a cheap graduation suit. It’s a fine line with a black shirt, and thus the details absolutely need to be on point. Let’s get to the shirt first, though.
A black dress shirt when worn with a navy suit (a patterned navy is preferable here) must be fitted properly. A sloppy black shirt is a waste of time and should be eradicated from the earth. Short of that happening, be sure it’s tailored properly.
Secondly, no tie should be worn here. It’s too tough to pair a tie with a black shirt, save for black tie, so we feel it important no to bother. Finally, while some may believe this is sacrilege, the shirt must be paired with black shoes and a black belt. The best way to bastardize a navy suit is to pair it with some sort of black shirt, brown shoe, weird belt combination. Keep things trim, clean, and on point. In terms of accessorizing, a simple white pocket square is sufficient; no more, no less.
This should be a no fuss, no muss sort of look. Anything outside of the lines I just painted is a risky endeavor and one we wouldn’t recommend taking. Being in shape helps too, but we can’t have it all now can we?