Prints Perfect

There is SO much etiquette that goes along with men’s fashion. When looking over some information I got a little overwhelmed. What knot goes with what occasion, what type of cuffs do you wear, how should your shirt lay under your sport coat, the list goes on and on! So today I really just want to focus on one of my pet peeves, mixing patterns with your ties and dress shirts.

Basic colors are simple, grey suit, with a white shirt and navy tie is easy. It is safe and very very boring. We want to leave all of that a move on to the next step, patterns and prints. They show a lot about a person, not only that they can mix and match properly, but also that they have a personality. Just think about the men you know who will wear a paisley tie with a purple shirt, I’m sure they keep to themselves at lunch. So this is to go over the basics of Pattern Mixing 101.

A lot has to do with the color choices, not so much the patterns chosen. We don’t want perfectly matching colors because we don’t want it to look they came together in a plastic bag from the Bon Ton. Instead we want colors that compliment each other. If you have a mint colored shirt you don’t need a mint and navy collegiate striped tie. So let’s get going.


Pick Your Shirt

So, we need to start from the beginning. The shirt. This is the canvas for the priceless painting! You want, just like women do, to have a shirt look like it was made to fit you and you alone. The color is important as well because you don’t want a color that washes you out or have something that is too bold. For example if you have a lot of pink in your face typically a pink or red shirt is not something you want in your closet, try more cooler colors like blues and greens.

So first, determine what the dominant color is in the shirt then choose a tie that has accentuates the shirts dominant color. Is navy the primary color? Then pair it with a tie that has darker blues in the background or somewhere so it all “ties together”.

Ideas and Examples

We are going to give you some basic examples here. Once you master these you can take on this:

Geometric with flowing patterns

Take note to the bold colors and and all the patterns, but yet it somehow works. The geometric pattern of gingham has a crisp, sharp lines. Only two colors are involved, one of which is white. You look at the purple and want to pull from that. So you see subtle hints of a darker purple in the paisley tie. Paisley was used because it is the exact opposite of the hard lines ginham makes. It has a fluid look to it. The tie is packed with colors and patterns while the shirt is quite simple.

Large and Small

When working with a shirt that has a smaller pattern like gingham or hounds-tooth it allows to have a solid color affect. It is hard for the eye to determine if it is a patterned or solid colored shirt. The example below is not my ideal creation but you get the idea. The pattern will either be so small or so close in color that you can use a bold styled tie. This is too matchy matchy for me but you can see how bold you actually can go with the look.

Solid shirts

This is probably the easiest shirt to match because you don’t have a pattern that is working against you! All you have to do it use the primary  color in the shirt to chose your tie. Notice that none of the ties have a light pink as the main color. The first uses a light pink as the background of the tie but it is covered with navy, purple, light blue and a square pattern. The last uses light pink as one of the circles, but it is not the primary focus. So compliment the color don’t copy it.

Stripes on Stripes

This is probably the most common shirt you will be working with. The key to the success with this shirt and tie combo is the size of the stripes. The stripes in this shirt are small yet colorful, just like the geometric pattern. The stripes in the shirt highlight the colors chosen in the tie. Also take note to the stripes that were chosen for this combo. They go in a different direction and are much more bold. The tie brings in two more complimentary colors to the look, bright purple and navy.

Stripes with Pattern

This is a style that if not done properly can make you look like a side show clown act. The stripes on the shirt are a soft pastel pink and white. The tie pulls from the pink in the shirt. If you see the red and hints of peach throughout, that is coming from the shirt. Looking a bit further away you notice, the blues greens and bits of yellow. This is a tough combination but it works because of the softness of the shirt with the boldness of the tie that pulls from the shirts main color.

Some tips and tricks

Remember wear the larger prints on your tie

Your ties should always be darker than your shirt

Establish the color in your shirt (ex. purple) and pick a similar color (plum, lavender, grape, orchid)

Your patters must compliment each other, put big and small together not big and big

Have fun! We want to look fashionable

And remember if at first you don’t succeed, you will look funny but try again!

Some references to use:

Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl

All of the men in Scandal (take note to the subtly of pattern mixing)

Mad Men

Big from Sex and the City

Neal Caffrey of White Collar

Brooks Brothers

The Tailored Gentleman

When in doubt Emily Post    -1-    -2-    -3-

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

 Stay bold,



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