September 17th, 2012

Business as Usual: Basics of Patterned-Shirt-and-Tie Combo

Last week I spent the afternoon at  Brooks Brothers in Chevy Chase with a client — shopping for menswear. We needed dress shirts, ties, blazer, dress shoes…pretty much everything but the suit.  I immediately got to work putting together shirt-and-tie combos. We opted for the non-iron {yes, you heard me…non-iron} slim-fit shirt (BB has the regular fit, which is a fuller cut, slim and then the extra-slim).  He wanted just a couple of ties to start that could work with a number of options beyond your standard white dress shirt.  He wanted some color and pattern, but  to remain conservative.  So, I gave him two simple guidelines when putting together a patterned shirt and tie:

1. One big and one small.  One (either the shirt or tie) should have a larger, bolder pattern and the other should have a smaller one so that you don’t end up giving yourself and your coworkers vertigo. For example, below, the graph pattern on the shirt  is smaller proportionally than the bold stripes on the tie.

You can also pair the same time with a shirt that has fine stripes, following that same big-and-small rule of thumb.

2. Select  like colors. You want the tie to go with the shirt. The tie can have several different colors, but there should be a common color in the two. For example, above there is navy in the tie’s stripes and the graph print on the shirt is navy. Another example is below. The dark purple color is in the tie and shirt print.

The same tie can then be paired with a shirt that has a red print, which brings out the red accents in the tie.

All these shirt-tie combos can be worn with a navy or charcoal grey suit — essentials in every man’s closet. Finish with black belt and black dress shoes (top two) or dark brown belt and shoes (bottom two).

More shirt-tie combo tips (do you know to do a tie with a  bengal stripe shirt?) here.

Although, we focused on shirts and ties, I’d be remiss not to mention that the suit-buying experience at Brooks Brothers Chevy Chase is nothing short of fun. Expert tailor “Ali” comes to fit you, gives you the ol’ up-and-down, tugs on the vent a couple of times, and drops some of his expert-tailor knowledge: “This suit is for you.” or “This suit is not for you.”  Classic.

So if you are in the market for a quality suit that won’t break the bank, head to your local Brooks Brothers during their semi-annual sale when I’ve purchased two suits for $1,000. And, don’t forget to ask about the Fitzgerald — one of the four different styles of suits offered at BB — that has the style and fit pulled from the John F. Kennedy archives. If it’s good enough for a president...

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