Mastering the art of the shirt and tie combo

While perhaps one of the less appreciated sartorial arts, being able to match a shirt and a men’s suit tie is incredibly important when it comes to pulling together a complete outfit. Get it wrong and it can throw off the balance of your ensemble and make you look confused. Get it right and you’ll look utterly impeccable.

Here, we provide an Oscar Hunt point of view on both the importance of pairing, how to do it and how to make sure your ties last the miles.

The importance of the shirt and tie combination

As referenced already, this seemingly minor pairing has a big impact on how ‘put together’ your overall outfit is and this has a lot to do with how the eye processes information.

Because a neck-tie sits visually at the centre of any classic suit, it has the ability to dominate. This is why we generally steer clients away from overly bright block colours as these can detract from the other details in your ensemble.

This is also where the shirt comes in. If the tie is the main act, the shirt is the stage on which it’s performing. Ensuring that the two aren’t competing will help maintain a sense of balance and overall visual harmony.

The rule of thumb that we generally run with is that of contrast followed by compliment; your shirt should generally contrast your suit - i.e. think a white shirt with a navy suit - and your tie should then compliment both - i.e. you might choose a lighter blue tie with white dots to compliment the aforementioned ensemble.

Matching shirts and ties to suit styles

If that’s the theory, let’s now get into what it actually means in practice and how you can apply it when dealing with different types of suits.

For the more corporate end of suiting - think superfine wool blends - we tend to steer clients to similarly polished looking neck ties, such as those made from silk. This looks best when paired with a thicker cotton shirt - you might even consider one that has a slight satin finish so that the overall gloss of your ensemble is consistent.

When it comes to more casual styles of suiting that are made from more relaxed, open weave fabrics - think linens, cottons etc. - it pays to explore more textured options of tie. For example, you might choose to play with knitted silk ties, cashmere suit ties or even those made from linen. As outlined above, this ensures that the tie doesn’t dominate the rest of the outfit.

Advice for tie care and maintenance

When it comes to caring for neck ties, the team at Oscar Hunt have two golden rules.

The first is to avoid washing at all costs. This is because the process can often alter the shape of the tie or damage the hand-stitching. Instead, we recommend spot cleaning with a damp cloth. In the event that it absolutely must be washed, it’s best to visit a quality dry cleaner who will be able to offer an expert opinion.

Our second rule is to do with storage. Ties are best stored hung up on a tie rack or hanger as this will allow any wrinkles from a day’s wear to naturally fall out and also helps maintain their shape.