Colour coordinating a shirt and tie is partly art, partly science. Whether you’re trying to create the right impression on a date, assembling a suit, shirt and tie combo for a job interview, making a special effort for an event where you know there are going to be ridiculously well-dressed people – like the Pitti Uomo Fair (check out our blog), or simply shopping for new additions to your wardrobe – we’ve all been overwhelmed before, and very frequently we revert to the “safe” option or alternatively go out on a limb, pulling together a dress shirt and tie ensemble that doesn’t quite hit the mark. But rest assured, with some basic understanding of some simple colour rules, you’ll never second-guess yourself again.
The colour wheel is a good place to start when trying to understand the relationship between the different hues and will ultimately help you when trying to choose your shirt and tie combination or put together a great outfit.
1. Choose a core colour
This is the colour of the anchor piece in your outfit. For example your suit, your sports jacket or jumper. For a lot of men, this colour will be a neutral colour like navy, beige, grey or khaki. Your anchor piece helps provide a canvas from which you can build your wardrobe around using more colourful and statement pieces – like shirts, ties, pocket-squares, shoes etc. If you’re not wearing a suit or jacket, your shirt would be the core colour.
2. Adding accent colours…Enter your shirt and tie
These are the second and sometimes third colours used in your colour scheme. These pieces will usually be your shirt in the first instance, followed by your tie, pocket square, jumper or trousers. Belts and shoes can also echo the accent colours and be statement pieces. These can be Complementary, Triad, Analogous or Neutral which we explain below.
3. Complementary colours
Colours directly opposite each other on the wheel. Red and green or blue and orange for example, are complementary colours.
When placed next to each other, complementary colours intensify each other and really make bold and eye-catching statements. The key to wearing complementary colours is to remember when you’re wearing one bright colour, the second colour should be a shade or tint of the second colour – if you want to avoid looking too OTT.
A perfect example of complementary colours working harmoniously is the Philippe Perzi Vienna “Tango” collection of shirts, pictured below, which have blue stripes in varying shades and subtle orange contrasting collars and cuffs. Blue and orange are complementary colours.
Alternatively, think how cool the combination of olive green pants and Philippe Perzi Vienna’s Niki Lauder (Marrone) shirt would look. Red and green are complementary colours with marrone being a hue of red. Philippe Perzi Vienna’s mauve shirt, Gluhwein and Solid Gold tie is a perfect example of a complementary shirt and tie combination – the mauve hairline stripe and yellow tie work beautifully together.
4. Triad Colours
Triad colours are equidistant from each other and make a Y-shape on the wheel.
When you want to really make a statement, wearing three colours in a correct triad is the way to do it. Whilst providing some contrast, they do work harmoniously together. There are primary triads (Blue, Red and Yellow) and secondary triads (Orange, Green and Purple) and all work together well as long as you wear them in shades rather than the pure chroma colours. Triad colours are best worn in outfits where you have quite a few components, like when you’re wearing a sports jacket, dress shirt and tie and/or pocket square with chinos or jeans. Think about wearing a navy suit with Philippe Perzi Vienna’s Alpen Blau shirt and the Gold with Pink Dots tie. Add a pocket square with hues of pink, blue or lemon. Remember, the key to wearing triad colours is to choose lighter shades.
5. Analogous Colours
These are the colours adjacent to one another. For example aqua, light blue and dark blue, or red, red-orange and orange.
You can quite easily coordinate your shirt and tie using either darker or lighter shades of these colours. Wearing analagous colours are probably the ‘safest’ option as they attract the least amount of attention. They are probably the most appropriate in more formal situations. A navy suit with a light blue shirt and tie in a solid dark blue is not likely to raise any eyebrows but is nonetheless a clean and classic look. For a bold take on the analogous look, check out Philippe Perzi Vienna’s Innere Stadt of Mind (purple) shirt and Purple Tartan tie – the red in the tie is analagous to the colour purple and that’s why it looks spectacular.
These are the shades of white, black, grey or tan, beige and brown. Many of your anchor pieces will be in these colours and you should invest in these pieces, because you’ll wear them a lot and they go with everything. Indeed, all these neutrals can be worn together and look very sophisticated. Think about beige trousers, a high quality white dress shirt such as Edelweis and grey jumper. Or inject a touch of eccentricity to an otherwise basic shirt and tie combination with Philippe Perzi Vienna’s Alles Klar? and a Beige Tartan tie.
You can look effortlessly chic by choosing a shirt and tie combination all in one colour but in different shades or tones.
A tried and tested combination is all blue – a navy suit combined with a blue shirt and tie seldom fails, but to make your outfit look a little bit special, you should contrast with texture and pattern. Philippe Perzi Vienna’s Apex shirt paired with a Grey Paisley tie is monochromatic but doesn’t render the shirt and tie combination boring because of the differing patterns. You could also experiment with a woven tie or pocket-square with a pattern
So, with the above guiding principles on colour coordinating in mind, you’ll never make a mistake again, right? Well, sort of. When it comes to choosing a shirt and tie combination that’s guaranteed to impress, ensuring you pick the right colours is only part of the story… there is also the question of your own colouring and complexion to consider…but we will save that for the next blog. Stay tuned and start shopping!