Choosing Your Tie Color: Men’s Professional Style Tips

Tip #14: Never wear a tie that is lighter than your shirt. 

Fashion is all about making a statement and standing out from the crowd. However, that doesn’t mean you need to wear bold colors and patterns to “stand out.” A properly fitted garment is the number one rule but here is another simple rule we suggest that all men follow. The tie should always be darker than the shirt to create a proper contrast. This simple change can have a major impact on the way you look. 

Why Should I? 

Why is this such an important rule to follow? The tie needs to contrast off the shirt, having the tie lighter than the shirt causes the shirt to pop which is underneath the tie and the jacket. It simply looks off. Even someone who has no idea about fashion will notice that something is off with your look, they may not know what it is, but it will look off to even them. The main goal in dressing is to draw the eye up to the face and to create complementing contrasts. The dark tie and lighter shirt create a crisp contrast that draws the eye in the way you want. 

This also means that it shouldn’t match the shirt. I have seen a few looks where the tie matches the shirt and I don’t mind it, but your outfit has to fit properly, the tie has to be the right length and the pocket square needs to work with it as well. To break one style rule you should try and keep the rest of your outfit on point. 

Breaking The Rule 

As mentioned, you have to make sure your fit is on point if you want to break this rule. I hate the term “style rules” because I believe many can be broken, but you have to be very careful in doing so if you want to look put together. Create a history of having outfits on point in fit, fabric and colors. Once you establish yourself as stylish, you can break rules. We mainly mention rules when it comes to working in an office, trying to impress for promotions or if you are overall wanting to look more put together. If you are reading this with a cynical view or a side-eye, chances are you want to break rules and don’t care about those things. That is fine, but overall, we recommend following this style rule.  

Building Your Wardrobe 

When it comes to building your wardrobe opt for light to mid-range dress shirt colors for about 80-90% of your wardrobe and almost always mid to dark colored ties. This will give you a wide range and you never have to worry about being on the wrong side of this rule or having a hard time choosing what to wear in the morning. That is the last thing we want to do with these style tips, the goal is to always wake up, choose your outfit with ease and go. When it comes to the last 10-20% of shirt colors choose black, dark grey, navy or a rich green or red. Only wear a black tie with contrast with these or opt for no tie at all for a stylish look. 


Following the simple rule of having your tie always be darker than your shirt can take your outfit to the next level. It's a small detail that can make a big impact, and it's something you can easily implement into your wardrobe. When putting together your outfit, remember to focus on creating visual contrast and choosing a combination that compliments your overall look. And with a range of light to mid-range colored shirts in your wardrobe, you'll have plenty of options to create stylish and professional outfits that will make you feel confident and ready to take on the world. 


Derek Burbidge - Owner/Founder of Cardero Clothing

In 2014, Derek rented a suit for his wedding only to later discover the advice he received was terrible and the fit of the rentals was way off. After travelling to Thailand and Europe soon after his wedding he was introduced to bespoke clothing and various timeless styles. As a lover of all things men's fashion, he started Cardero Clothing to keep men from making the same mistakes he did.

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