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How To Pair A Tie

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

The Dark Knot carries an extensive range of woven and printed silk ties, along with Pocket Squares & Lapel Flowers. Our core philosophy is geared towards helping gentlemen dress better. Hence, each of our luxurious silk ties come elegantly packaged in a black gift box with a card with recommendations for matching suits and shirts. Our extensive range of ties can be viewed here. In line with our core philosophy of helping gentlemen dress better, one can filter ties based on color, pattern, matching suits, matching shirts and even the type of occasion that you are dressing for! 

Dressing well when you need to wear basically the same thing, a suit and tie, everyday is tough. You may find that standing out from others and keeping up with the trends in fashion is hard to do, but what is more important than simply being “on trend” or fashionable is being stylish.

Being stylish is all about using many of the clothes that you already own to stand out, create pairings and combinations that complement and support each other. Knowing how and when to wear what ties is just as important having the right ties to begin with, which is something that few people take into account.

You may have a wardrobe full of nice enough clothing, but one of the most important things to becoming the best dressed guy in your office is knowing how to add pieces to your wardrobe that can be worn together and knowing how to best wear them together. Tie pairing starts with having well balanced ties and ends with having eye catching and stylish outfits.

Most offices require you to have a bit of a uniform when it comes to the daily suit and tie. More neutral colorings are the standard for acceptable suit colors and the patterns of the suits worn most often in offices are also relatively innocuous. With this in mind I will be going through how to best pair ties, wear different types of ties and how to wear tie patterns without much thought going into the suits that are worn with the ties.

One important note to make is to steer clear of dark blue or dark navy colored ties when wearing a charcoal or black suit because they run the risk of nearly matching but not quite well enough which can confuse and look off putting to the eye.

Solid Colored ties

Solid colored dress shirts and solid colored ties are the easiest to match with one another, which is one reason why they are so common. The solid colored tie and white shirt are the go to combination for most for just this reason, it ticks all the boxes and if everything is of relatively good quality and well fitting the outfit will end up looking quite good.

The problem is that wearing the same few solid colored ties and tailored white dress shirt will grow old quickly, your coworkers will go from being impressed to thinking that you can’t bare to think about your appearance for more than the time it takes to button up your shirt and tie your tie.

To view The Dark Knot's range of gorgeous solid silk ties, please click here!

White Shirt with Purple Tie

A solid colored tie with a white shirt and a navy suit can take an ordinary looking ensemble and make it look extremely elegant.

Thankfully there is hope for anyone willing to think about the pieces they add to their wardrobe and willing to learn about the color wheel in order to match their shirts and ties correctly.

The Dark Knot Tip: Along with learning to use a color wheel over time, the biggest thing to keep in mind is one of the golden rules of wearing ties, which is to keep your tie darker than your dress shirt. Like all golden rules this one has its caveats, but unless you are a seasoned stylish professional or wearing something other than the usual suit types mentioned above it is a simple way to keep your tie from clashing with the rest of an outfit. A caveat of this rule is that if you are wearing a black dress shirt then the tie will need to be of a lighter shade.

One mistake that many make when first attempting to dress more stylishly is to match a ties color to a dress shirt exactly, even going as far as to have a tie with a minimal pattern and the same background color as the dress shirt. The opposite is also often done, having a dress shirt with a pattern and a solid tie of the same major color is a similar recipe for disaster.

This causes the tie and shirt to combine and become indiscernible from one another, making you look like a wider blob stuffed into a suit jacket. If you learn one lesson about tie pairing from this article, it is to steer clear of those identical shirt and tie pairing sold together in department stores.

Gingham Shirt with Solid Tie

A tie with a similar or same color as the dominant color of a shirt often doesn't make as pronounced of an effect, as in the case above.  If in doubt, use the secondary color of the shirt as the dominant color of the tie, or use a color wheel (below) to pick a similar, triadic (colors that form a triangle) or complementary color scheme.

The way to avoid this is to go back to the color wheel, which you may not even have to look at because most people at some point in their lives have become relatively familiar with it, but nonetheless you may need to refresh your memory. With solid colored garments and ties, pairing them together with each other using the color wheel is simple. Look at the piece you know you are going to be wearing and swap the other piece out until you have found what you want.

Color Wheel

The Dark Knot Tip: The right tie can be found by either going for a similar shade which can be found adjacent or near to adjacent to your color of choice on the color wheel. If you are instead looking for something that complements instead of matches look across the color wheel to find the proper tie color which will contrast nicely.

If you wanted to stick to solid colored shirts and simply using complementing and similar colors and a range of neutral toned suits would be enough for you to avoid any serious missteps. However, wearing white or just off white shirts quickly becomes monotonous despite how well crafted your solid colored tie selection may be.

A complementary color scheme (taking two directly opposing colors on the color wheel) works perfectly when taking a solid colored tie and matching it against a patterned shirt.  In this case, an orange knitted tie provides fantastic balance against a houndstooth blue shirt!

Striped Ties

Stripes are one of the most minimal patterns out there and give any garment they are on a sense of classic style.  It is important to note that both striped and solid ties can be worn in both formal and informal settings. The essential rules of the pattern are that if you wear two striped garments, like a striped tie and a striped shirt, the two stripes should be of various widths. The other big rule to keep in mind when wearing stripes is, that two striped patterns should not be going in the same direction.

This means that the diagonal striped tie can be paired with nearly any striped shirt, and a horizontal striped tie can be worn with a vertical striped shirt.

To view The Dark Knot's range of exquisite Striped Silk Ties, that are ideal for daily work work, important meetings & presentations, please click here!

The Dark Knot Tip:  Keep in mind that your body type should also be taken into account when wearing stripes, a vertical striped shirt with a striped tie can make a wider person look great. Conversely, a vertically striped shirt with a horizontal striped necktie (usually available in knitted ties) can add perceived width to someone who is skinnier.

A Knitted Horizontal Striped Tie can add perceived width to the wearer.  Conversely, a vertical striped shirt with a diagonal striped tie can elongate the frame of the wearer.

Striped ties and shirts look great together when worn correctly, but they also look great when paired with others. Pairing a striped tie with a shirt is nearly easy as pairing a solid colored tie.

When pairing the colors correctly we need only return to that color wheel that helped to match colors earlier. First make sure that none of the colors in either the shirt or tie are clashing by looking at where they are in relation to each other on the color wheel. Directly adjacent colors, directly opposite colors and colors that are only separated by one color will work best together, but all of the colors don’t need to follow this rule.

The Dark Knot Tip: It is best to match a tie and shirt’s secondary colors to achieve a cohesive tie pairing. Judging what the primary and secondary colors of a shirt or tie are is easy, take a look at the piece from afar and the color that seems to overtake the garment is its primary color. These colors will stand out while you use the other colors to subtly make the shirt and tie seem like they belong together. The striped tie makes this incredibly easy to do with any sort of shirt because it has multiple colors that should already complement and contrast one another nicely on their own.

Having the secondary color of your tie match the primary color of your shirt can add a sense of elegance and cohesion to your ensemble.  Moreover, scaling up the proportion of your patterns, starting with a smaller scaled patterned shirt and progressing up to a wider scaled patterned tie will help create an element of contrast and pop.  Feature above is The Dark Knot's Canterbury Regimental Navy with Red Striped Tie.

Adding a quality striped tie correctly to a solid colored, striped or otherwise patterned shirt then is as easy as looking at what colors do and don’t go with one another. After picking out a few ties that go well with different shirts you will begin to get a feel for what colors in your wardrobe go with other colors without the help of a color wheel.

When you find yourself getting to this level of expertise you can start to see the holes in your wardrobe and purchasing ties that will go well with the clothes you already own will just get easier and easier.

Tie Patterns

All of the tie types we have gone over so far would be welcome in any environment, from the most formal office settings to places where you are only required to wear a shirt and tie. However, patterned ties in many cases can be split into the more formal patterns that have been in menswear for decades and the patterns that are a bit newer.

More formal patterns like paisley, foulard, polka dot and pin dot ties can be worn in nearly any formal setting following the same rules mentioned above for stripes.

To view The Dark Knot's exquisite range of foulard silk ties that are ideally suited for work, business meetings / presentations & interviews, please click here!

To view The Dark Knot's range of Paisley Silk Ties that can be worn both at work and in more casual settings, please click here!

To view The Dark Knot's array of polka dot and pin dot silk ties that can really elevate your suiting ensemble, please click here!

Grey Foulard Silk Tie

A Formal Tie Foulard Tie like Berkshire Abstract Grey from The Dark Knot is well suited for a formal occasion!

More experimental or avant garde tie designs however follow the same rules as previously mentioned, but even when worn with a beautifully matching shirt and suit still are not totally welcome in more formal situations.

While Foulard, Polka Dot and Striped Ties are suited for both semi formal and formal wear, they can really help spice up your ensemble during formal occasions!

A Novelty, Animal Print Tie, like The Dark Knot's Falmouth Birds Yellow w/ Blue Tie is well suited for semi-formal occasions like a beach wedding or more casual but preppy events like The Kentucy Derby!

Pairing a patterned tie with a patterned shirt is a sure way to attract some attention to yourself. Combining patterns is also a great way to show a bit of your stylish know how, and if you follow the color wheel rules that were mentioned earlier you should be in good shape as far as colors go.

The Dark Knot Tip:  When adding tie patterns to your suits and shirts, start with a smaller scale pattern and work your way up.  Remember, the goal here is to create contrast, and so adding a larger, wider spaced pattern against a smaller, more intricate patterned shirt will create an element of pop with respect to your pattern choice.  Conversely, if you would like your shirt to be the focal point of your attire or take more of a center stage, pairing a smaller patterned tie against a larger patterned shirt will do the trick.

When introducing pattern variation, starting with a smaller scale shirt pattern and working your way up to a larger scale tie pattern will help to establish a strong element of contrast, really allowing your ensemble to stand out!

Conversely, a wider spaced shirt pattern should be paired with a smaller, closely spaced patterned tie, such as The Dark Knot's Dorset Squares Blue with Pink Tie above.  In this case, the shirt will take more of a prominent role in the ensemble as the smaller patterned tie does not create as strong of a contrast.

If you are looking to simply wear a patterned tie with a small striped shirt or solid colored shirt then the way to make sure you wear it correctly is easy. It is as simple as following the color wheel to make sure that major colors don’t clash and that your secondary colors are shades of a similar color or complement each other.


Throughout this guide to wearing the different sorts of ties, from simple solid colored ties to patterned ties, one of the main points has been color. Neutral colors of beige, navy, and greys are easy to match with one another, but they can get monotonous very quickly and make it seem as though you may not be able construct an outfit with any real colors. The color wheel is one tool that can easily teach you to mix and match colors with one another while pushing you to add more color to your outfits.

Color theory is another great tool used in fashion to send a message with your choice of clothing. Ties, because they are darker than the shirts they are worn with, are often one of the focal points of an outfit, but the colors used in a solid colored tie or in a patterned tie say more about the wearer than simply their color.

Colors can enhance our complexion and even say something about who we are. Most men have heard of the power tie, typically a dark red silk tie worn with a dark suit, but there are other colors that convey other messages. We associate colors with certain states of mind or feelings and wearing certain ties in certain situations can help convey those feelings.

To view The Dark Knot's Red Silk Ties, please click here!

The Dark Knot Tip:  Red ties, as we have gone over, are seen as passionate, powerful or aggressive. Blue or purple ties are seen calming, intellectual, and even fashionable. Yellow and orange ties are seen as jovial and associated with spring or fall. Black is seen as sombre or serious and finally green is typically seen as caring and energetic. Just like companies that choose these colors for their logos your choice of tie color can say something about how you want others to view you.

A Purple Tie , such as the Stratford Abstract Tie from The Dark Knot, can help create a calm, yet professional look! 

Laid out in this guide are just a few golden rules to knowing how to pull off pretty much any tie. When you start to know these rules and the colors that work for you by heart you will start to buy and select your ties like a professional stylist would. As you experiment and continue to learn about what tie pairings and tie colors work best with what you can eventually learn when you can break these rules to your advantage.

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