Mixing Shirt & Tie Patterns with 8 Examples

A plain shirt with a striped tie not only gets boring, it's entry-level. Learn to pair patterns and stripes with these 8 examples.

Some things mix well together. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Navy and gray. Other things don’t mix so well. Oil and water. UNC and Duke. Black and brown. Many men have trouble matching fabrics, colors and even more so, patterns. Stripes with stripes? Checks with checks? Yes, it’s possible and in certain circumstances we even recommend it.

As with most things in life moderation is key. The most well-dressed men understand that wearing two or more patterns adds visual texture and lets viewers know that he isn’t afraid to mix and match. However, there is an art to the game. The human eye can only handle so many patterns. In fact it can only handle four at time. Only the most skilled and advanced dressers can pull off four patterns at a time without looking like a kaleidoscope, so we recommend no more than two for the regular guy just starting out.

The easiest pattern is no pattern at all. Solids are the foundation and the rest is free game. The key is to play with scale. Large background patterns look best with small patterns in the foreground. Big pattern shirts call for small patterned ties and vice versa. Wearing two of the same pattern? The same principle exists. Two stripes together are fine as long as one is smaller than the other. Wearing two patterns of the same scale will confuse the viewer, and
the wearer for that matter.

The most important thing to remember is that it takes practice. No one gets it right the first time and over time each man will gravitate toward the patterns he likes and what suits his personality. Once you find the right combo, the rest is gravy.

blue check shirt with red tie

Shirt: Neiman Marcus Tie: Nautica

Purple striped shirt with tie

Shirt: Neiman Marcus Tie: Nautica

Purple shirt with black dotted tie

Shirt: Hugo Boss Tie: Polo Ralph Lauren

Red shirt with blue tie

Shirt: Hugo Boss Tie: Polo Ralph Lauren

Grant Harris

Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted; a Washington, DC based Image Consulting Company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today's professional man. He has a healthy obsession with socks. Follow him on Twitter & Facebook.