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Pairing a Black Suit with Shirts and Ties

The black suit is a staple of formal attire but while it is very common, it can be a little tough to pull off. Fortunately, there are a few tips and combinations that will make you look great in a black suit, whether you're wearing it formally or casually!

Pairing a Black Suit with Shirts and Ties
Pairing a Black Suit with Shirts and Ties

1. A black suit can make pale skin look even paler, so it's important to cushion some of this contrast with warm colors. Try pastel blue, baby pink, or mint green. If you wear a pink shirt, be sure to pair it with a slimmer fit to avoid looking outdated.

2. Experimenting with some bolder colors and color contrasts is a great way to let your suit stand out. Try wearing an electric blue or vibrant navy dress shirt if you want a swanky look. Pair your black suit with a yellow shirt if you want to stand out. Don’t wear shirts that are overly garish or shiny—these work better for casual occasions.

3. A muted color is any color with a touch of another color. These pair best with printed shirts that have small, repetitive patterns, such as stripes or polka dots. Try plaid or flannel if you want to stand out a bit more—just don't go overboard!

4. For darker shades of any color, a black tie is your best bet—brighter colors tend to pop out too much and make the outfit look messy. If you really want to add some color, choose a tie with a black or dark base and some large-scale patterns for a nice formal look. As a rule, your tie should be darker than your shirt.

For example, if you're wearing a light gray dress shirt, wear a black or charcoal gray tie.The classic black suit and white dress shirt combination is an exception to this rule, as it works perfectly with a black tie. Just be sure to wear a white pocket square or you'll look like a waiter!

5. When you're wearing bright or neutral colors, you can get away with a bit more experimentation. For example, a darker red tie pairs nice with a white shirt and black suit. You can also try some bolder striped patterns—just don't go too overboard in formal settings, such as weddings.

Don't wear the same scale pattern on your tie as your shirt. For example, if your tie has a large scale pattern, be sure your shirt is either solid or has a small scale pattern.

6. An example of a great tie texture choice is crochet, which is made from unique chain stitches. But really, anything that helps the tie pop out a bit over a solid colored shirt, such as blue. In terms of tie color, black is always safe, as are deeper variations of your shirt's color.

For a blue shirt, a tie color like vivid indigo or cobalt works great. If you wear a patterned tie, go with a large-scale pattern for the best results.

7. Wearing a black suit to a wedding is easy to mess up. But if you stick with a solid white shirt or a solid color, you're good to go! Pair it with a black or red tie and wear a pocket square that matches the tie color.

8. Pair your suit with a button-down or light cardigan to minimize the dressiness of the suit. In terms of shoes, try Oxfords, loafers, or brogues in suede—again, this will take attention off of the dressiness.

9. Wearing a black suit and black shirt can be tough to make casual, but it's doable! Avoid shiny black shirts and always make sure that your pieces can be distinguished from one another.

10. When it comes to casual shirts, t-shirts and scoop-neck sweaters are your best bet. You can also pair your suit with simple turtlenecks and button-downs.

Cover Photo: Wix

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