Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Shirt and tie combinations are one of the most classic outfits a man can wear. However, have you ever wondered about the best ways to wear a shirt and tie? Fortunately, here’s our style guide on all the best ways to style this classic piece of men’s fashion.
Whether you’re going into the office for work everyday, or just want to smarten up for a night out, wearing a shirt and tie has always been a go-to outfit for men trying to formalise their look. However, despite the huge variety of colours, patterns and styles, the classic white shirt is unbeaten.
However, if you’re not careful, wearing a white shirt and tie can make you look like a school boy. Fortunately, if you spend a little bit of time and effort on your look, you can easily avoid this.
How to Wear a Tie
When it comes to getting the ultimate shirt and tie combination, you can’t do anything until you know how to wear a tie properly. Although this may sound simple, you can’t simply rush a fat knotted tie like you did when you were at school. Instead, properly learning to wear a tie depends on lots of different factors, such as thickness of the tie, the type of knot, and your shirt collar. The three most popular tie knots are:
- Four in hand knot
- Half windsor knot
- Full windsor knot
Four in Hand Knot
The four in hand knot is probably the most simple and easy to learn knot. You’ve probably been using a four in hand knot ever since you first put on a tie. It simply involves looping the fatter end of the tie around the smaller end and tucking it up through the loop. Although this is a great quick and easy knot that will instantly make your outfit more stylish, it can sometimes appear slightly crude and school-boyish.
Half Windsor Knot
However, what if you’re wearing something a bit more luxurious like a dress shirt and tie? In this situation, you need a slightly more complicated and neat knot. Dependent on the size of your tie and collar, a half windsor knot is going to be the best option for giving your dress shirt and tie combo that stylish detail it’s been missing. If you’re wearing some skinny dress ties, then this is definitely the knot for you. The only downside is that the half windsor knot is slightly trickier to get right.
Instead of just wrapping the thick end around the back and looping it through, the half windsor involves some more technical bits. Give our helpful video below a watch to learn how to tie a perfect half windsor knot.
Full Windsor Knot
Finally, the best ties for a full windsor knot are generally fatter or larger ties. As you’ll need the extra room, you will most likely save the full windsor knot for when you’re wearing a dress shirt with a wide or spread collar. In this knot, you will want to only leave a small amount of the short end as you will be using the majority of the tie to wrap around, and don’t want it to be too short.
Pass the wide end over the narrow end, and tuck it up through the loop. Then wrap it underneath and hold it to the side. Pass the wide end, back over and through the knot at the collar. You should now have an equal triangle shape on each side. Pass the wide end back over the front of the knot, and then pull it through and down. To tighten the tie, hold the knot and pull the narrow end down.
Men’s Dress Shirts and Ties
Now you’ve learnt how to wear a tie properly, you have to find the best dress shirt to go with it. Much like learning a tie, finding the right dress shirt isn’t necessarily as simple as it appears. First and foremost, you must know your body size and shape. As is true with all clothes, how your shirt fits is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how great your shirt looks, a badly fitting shirt is going to look bad.
Firstly, the seam of your sleeve should sit directly on top of your shoulder joint, with the your cuff ending on your wrist, just before your palm. Have the torso section tapered in towards your body, but not so much that you feel like you’re going to burst the buttons every time you tense. In terms of length, the bottom of your shirt should sit in the upper to mid area of your thigh, leaving enough for you to tuck in, but not so much that you’re wearing a dress.
Although you should go and get properly measured for the size of your shirt collar, it should fit comfortably around your neck with the top button done up. Don’t have it so tight that you’re chocking, but also not so loose that you can fit more than two fingers down it.
Dependent on the type of tie you’re planning on wearing, you may need a dress shirt with a particular type of collar. Skinny or medium width ties will work best with traditional forward point collar. The slimness of the tie will fit neatly beneath this without making your neck appear fat.
If your wearing a fat tie, then you will want to wear a spread or wide collared shirt. The extra space in these collars will compensate for the thickness of your knot and tie.
Solid Colour Ties
After working out the right size and style of your shirt, deciding what colour tie you’re going to wear is the next step. Although we’re specifically talking about white shirts here, so the colour of your tie isn’t as important to get right, if you’re wearing it with other colour shirts, you have to make sure the colours compliment each other.
Ties can come in thousands of colours, all of them in different shades and tones. This means that the possible shirt and tie combos are pretty much endless. The only time you’ll have to worry about a tie with a plain white shirt, is if you’re wearing white ties. However, this is a terrible idea and you should never even think about attempting it.
The good thing about a completely white shirt, is that you can more or less wear any colours with it. It’s pretty much a blank canvas. The only time you have to be careful when choosing the colour of your tie, is if you’re wearing a patterned white shirt. Dependent on the colour of the shirt pattern, you will have to choose the colour of your tie based around this.
For instance, a light baby blue tie probably isn’t going to match very well if you’re wearing a dark red checkered dress shirt. However, if you were wearing a navy and white striped shirt, then wearing a navy tie may actually compliment the outfit nicely.
Undoubtedly, a blue tie is a complete classic in men’s fashion. The great thing about a blue tie is that, whilst still offering some extra stylish detail, you can wear it with so many other colours.
A blue tie and white shirt is an especially great shirt tie combination. The contrast from the bright whiteness of the shirt with the cool atmosphere of the blue gives a perfect balance to your outfit. The shade of your tie can also have a huge impact on your outfit. For instance, if you were going to a summer party of wedding, you may wear a white shirt with a light baby blue tie. This will reflect the happy and summery tone of the event.
Combine this with a blue or navy suit and a pair of formal tan shoes to finish a look that is stylish, verging on informal, and extremely light and summery.
On the other hand, wearing a dark navy blue tie with a white shirt will produce a more formal and wintery outfit. This would be great for the office, or a more formal event during the early nights of winter.
Although we have discussed how you can wear a solid colour tie, you may be reading this wondering how to wear shirt tie combinations with a patterned tie. Well, fortunately we’re here to help you out. Patterned ties can be a great addition to your outfit and can add some extra detail to a look that otherwise may have been rather dull. However, wearing a patterned tie does mean that you have another thing to think about when it comes to matching your tie to your shirt.
Striped Dress Ties
The safest option when it comes to patterned ties, is by far and a way, a striped tie. Striped ties have been around for as long as anyone can remember and go great with a whole variety of different dress shirts, not least the plain white shirt.
As with the colour of your tie, if you’re wearing a completely white dress shirt, then the pattern of your tie won’t really affect the overall balance of your outfit, as anything goes with white. However, wearing a patterned shirt can make things more complicated.
Remember, don’t wear a tie and shirt in exactly the same pattern. For instance, if you wear a striped tie with a striped shirt, the combination of the same pattern will make your outfit confusing and cluttered. Instead, you should go for alternating patterns.
Wearing something like a polka dot dress shirt or a checkered dress shirt is the best idea when you’re wearing a striped tie.
However, if you’re wearing a suit with your shirt and tie combination it can make things even more confusing. Just as with the tie, if your shirt is completely white, you only have to worry about your tie matching your suit. However, this can be just as important as choosing the right shirt and tie combination.
What Colour Shirt with Grey Suit
Grey Suit White Shirt
If you’re looking for an outfit that you can dress up or down, then a grey suit is a perfect place to start. Say you’re going to a formal event at work, you can easily wear a grey suit in a professional way. Combine a plain white shirt with a black skinny tie and a pair of black leather shoes. You could even add a waistcoat if you’re really going for a formal look.
Grey Suit Checkered shirt
However, because the grey suit is so versatile you can just as easily wear one in a more colourful and informal way. The easiest way to do this is by wearing a patterned shirt and some brown leather shoes. Due to the neutral colour of grey, wearing a patterned shirt and brown shoes won’t disturb the balance of your look. In fact, they will actually contribute to it in a stylish way.
Try wearing a light coloured grey suit with a blue and white checkered shirt, and a black or blue tie. This will already make your outfit more informal then wearing a plain white shirt. Finish the look off with a pair of brown leather loafers to really give you that ultimate smart causal feel.
Black Suit Combinations
As well as grey, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and tie combination can give you a clean formal look. If you’re going for a truly classic formal look, then try combining a plain white shirt with a skinny black tie and some black leather shoes. Ever since Quentin Tarantino made Reservoir Dogs the black suit with black tie look has become a truly iconic piece of men’s formal fashion. You could even add some black wayfarer glasses to really release your inner American gangster.
Your Quick Guide to Shirt and Tie Combinations with a White Shirt
- Learn how to wear a tie. You can’t wear any shirt and tie combinations unless you know the best way to wear different types of tie. Work out the style of tie you’re wearing and what you’re wearing it for, and then choose accordingly.
- Know your body size and shape. When it comes to shirts, you need to find one that fits your perfectly. The length of the sleeves and the size of your collar are the most important parts. To know for sure, go and be measured in a shop or tailor.
- Think about colour. Matching colours isn’t too hard when wearing a completely white shirt, as it can be worn with anything. If you’re wearing a suit on top make sure the tie matches this.
- Think about pattern. If you’re wearing a patterned white shirt or tie, make sure they don’t clash. Stick to alternating patterns and nothing too loud.
- Experiment. A white shirt is quite literally, a blank canvas. This means that you can play around with different colour and pattern combinations relatively risk free. Unless you wear matching shirts and ties, you should be alright.
On That Note
A shirt and tie combination has always been the ultimate formal outfit. A white shirt and tie combination is most definitely one of the classics when it comes to this particular look in particular. Therefore, it’s important to get the combination right. Follow this style guide and you’ll be wearing all the best shirt and tie combinations in no time.