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How to Pick the Best Men's Ties: Patterns & Colours

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Section: Neckties, Bowties, and Pocket Squares - Blog

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There are so many styles of ties in the market today; it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options. How do you know which one goes with what outfit? Here's a quick guide to choosing ties to coordinate with any outfit: consider pattern, colour and proportion.

Men's ties add flair to suits. Since business suits are typically grey, navy or black and worn with either blue or white shirts, neckwear is an easy way to add accents of colour and/or patterns. When matching a tie to a shirt and suit, consider three factors:

  • Pattern
  • Colour
  • Proportion

Necktie Patterns

When matching patterns, no two pieces of clothing should utilise the same size of pattern and, to a lesser degree, pattern type. Pattern size is the distance between the stripes on a shirt; these should not be similar to the width of the stripes on your tie. If you pair two closely matched patterns, you create an unattractive optical illusion.

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In contrast, a pin-striped suit with a subtle pattern matched with a crisp, white business shirt and an intricate patterned tie looks sharp. Score bonus points for popping a pocket square in a complementary colour into the breast pocket.

This same rule comes into play when you match three or five patterns, but it is the most important element when working with three patterns.

For our purposes here, solid coloured ties as considered to be without a pattern, so the rules of pattern matching do not apply them.

Necktie Colour

When matching colours, think in terms of complete outfits and coordinate all colours in relation to the whole. Since the suit is the largest clothing item, think of it as the outfit's foundation and work from that point to match your shirts to the suit, and then ties to the ensemble.

It's really that simple. If any of your combinations look discordant, switch out a shirt or tie until you have a pleasing combination.

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Don't force a tie to match just because it is a favorite; opt for one that complements the whole outfit. If you are still unsure of what colour to choose, stick with the following traditional tie colours:

  • Muted reds
  • Muted golds
  • Blues

These match well with most dark suits, especially when paired with white, light or medium-blue shirt combinations. You want your necktie to accentuate your suit and shirt rather than dominate them. If your tie becomes the focal point, it distracts the eye from your facial features.

Necktie Proportion

Proportion plays a role when a necktie varies from the standard width of 3.5 inches and fluctuates between a skinny tie (less than 3 inches wide) or an excessively wide tie (more than 3.75 inches wide). For skinny and wide ties, take the individual's height and weight as well as the width of his suit's lapels into consideration.

Matching Specific Ties

Solid Coloured Ties: These are the easiest ties to match as the lack of discernible patterns allows them to complement your other attire. For example, a solid burgundy necktie is the perfect finishing touch for a checked shirt and navy pin-striped suit, but it goes as well with the more formal light blue business shirt and plain charcoal suit. The smoother and shinier the tie, the more formal it appears. Thus, solid cotton or wool neckties provide a casual and subtle look.

Modern and Narrow Striped Ties: Ties displaying multiple narrow stripes in several different colours are common for contemporary Italian design ties. When matching such ties, make sure the patterns and colours blend well with the rest of your outfit. For example, a tie with a hint of purple goes well with a light rose-pink or light lavender business shirt. Ties with a touch of brown look better with navy-blue, tan, beige or olive-coloured suits.

Classic Striped Ties: A classic stripe pattern denotes a simple design in two contrasting colours. If the stripes are widely spaced, the tie would match a narrow striped or finely chequered pattern business shirt. A cherry-red and white striped tie, for example, pairs well with a blue or white business shirt and a suit of any colour.

British Repp-Stripe, Regimental, Military and University Ties: Traditional British ties are recognised by their slightly conservative striped design, dull colours, and finely ribbed fabric weave. These neckties usually have stripes falling from right to left, while North American variants have stripes falling from left to right. Classic colours are burgundy, amber, olive, forest green, navy and tan. Traditional British ties are made from stiffer fabric blends like cotton or fine wool with delicate silk. Thus, a burgundy red and amber-yellow tie blends best with medium-blue or white business shirts. We recommend you not wear an authentic military regiment tie unless you have served in the unit or have earned the right to wear it.

Paisley Ties: These feature tear-drop shapes; paisley designs are believed to have originated in Persia during the 16th century. Paisley was a major textile motif in Persia and was used to decorate royal and religious garments. It is said paisley is derived from the shape of the shoots of a young date palm. In ancient Babylonia and in Hinduism, the date palm was considered a symbol of fertility.

Polka Dot, Foulard and Club Ties: These ties have very small, intricate patterns that are either screen-printed onto or jacquard woven into the fabric. When matching these ties with a suit and shirt, the pattern of each clothing item should be different in size and preferably, a different shape. A cherry-red and white polka dotted tie would play well with a blue and white chequered shirt and a solid grey suit.

Matching suits and ties can be an exhausting task, especially if you have an extensive wardrobe. Fortunately, there is an easier solution. When you buy a custom suit from Montagio Custom Tailoring, our expert staff will work with you to help you choose all the right accessories to go with it so you look damn good - from head to toe!

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