A small accessory with a big impact. The tie doesn’t only decorate the neck and shirt but is the calling card for the person who wears it. More than a suit, that which distinguishes a man is his tie. Therefore, choosing it is of fundamental importance for those who care about style.
Style is strictly a personal matter. Everyone can and must create their own, on the basis of character, taste, attitudes and one’s skin color. Who has dark or olive skin, for example, can generally dare with sharper contrasts, while those with light skin would do better to choose more subtle combinations.
While individual preferences are sacrosanct, there are general rules of style that it’s good to always keep in mind. One of the most important issues to be addressed is that of combinations.
Shapes, keep an eye on combinations
When it comes to combinations, the first rule is to avoid different and contrasting geometric shapes: lines and squares usually clash, and this goes both for the tie-shirt and shirt-jacket combination. Combining stripes with stripes, instead, isn’t completely off limits, but it’s a risk to take on carefully. In general, it’s better to alternate big and small stripes. Lastly, fantasy on fantasy is an impossible combination: a tie with irregular designs goes well only with a solid color shirt.
Colors, contrasts and combinations
After shapes, it makes sense to turn your attention to colors. Never mix more than three or four different colors and always maintain an overall coherence. How? If you don’t trust your own eye, you can seek help with Itten’s color circle, that used by designers to select combinations. The circle creates the correct combinations by forming opposite pairs or triangulations. In the shirt-tie relationship, rather than on contrasts, it’s better to play with different tones and shades, especially for special occasions that require particular elegance. For casual moments, instead, you can dare with more marked contrasts.
The role of the shirt
The choice of a shirt is fundamental. But the tie is always “in charge”. So, it makes sense to choose the shirt as a function of the tie rather than the opposite. When in doubt, it’s always better to choose a plain and neutral shirt. White, for example, is suitable for practically every tie: solid color, regimental and polka dot. A general rule would have the shirt being lighter than the tie. The solid color tie also matches up well with a striped shirt. With a striped tie the most sensible choice is a solid color shirt with a color that is softer than the more decisive lines of the tie but, as we’ve said, you can also dare with a striped shirt.
Room for imagination
For the rest, leave room for your imagination and turn to the most disparate sources of inspiration. For example, in homage to the films dedicated to the world of Wall Street, the symbol of US finance, you could wear a polka dot tie on a colored shirt, but with a white collar and cuffs. Shirts with bright colors or particular details and craftsmanship shouldn’t be ruled out a priori, but our advice is to maintain a general equilibrium, compensating for the excess of one garment with the discretion of another. So, a bold tie with a neutral shirt and an original shirt with an understated tie.
Some color suggestions: a dark orange or dark green tie with a light blue shirt; a navy blue or dark purple – or at the most green – with a pink shirt. A paisley pattern tie (with colored and handcrafted drops) with a soft plain shirt, in the same shade as the dominant color of the tie. Today more than ever, however, daring is allowed. But it remains important to master the canons of classic elegance. Even just to be able to purposefully transgress.