Mixing it Up: How to navigate the new world of patterned dress shirts

One of the newest trends in dress today is patterned shirts.  This trend originally started out as more of a casual sport shirt craze, but has now overlapped into the professional dress space.

Not many people truly know how to navigate these trendy waters and rarely come out with a complete, cohesive look. In order to achieve that perfect balance and do this look justice, it takes a little extra training.  Don’t worry… we’re here to help.

When starting out building your wardrobe, we guide new-comers to solid shirts and suits because it makes it a whole lot easier for them to pick a matching tie.  They can achieve lots of different looks with minimal margin for error. But when you start throwing patterned shirts into the mix, it becomes exponentially harder to pull off a great look.

Let us introduce you to some simple guidelines that you can use to conquer this troubling trend…

 As tempting as it may be to ignore those traditional rules of dress and just dive into the deep end with your new creative dress flare… of patterns, color, and more bold styles that are trending; too much boldness and pattern all at once can take your look in the wrong direction.

The Rule of 3
A simple solution is what we like to call the Rule of 3: two solids [S] and one pattern {P} OR two patterns {P} and one solid [S]. Breaking your shirt/suit/tie combination into these easy to remember guidelines will ground your look and pull things together in a nice cohesive package.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Patterned Suit, Shirt, & Tie {P}+{P}+{P}

Patterned Shirt & Tie w/ Solid Suit {P}+{P}+[S]


Just remember…
{P} + {P} + {P} = TOO MUCH!
[S] + [S] + [S] = TOO BORING!
{P} + {P} + [S] OR [S] + [S] + {P} = JUST RIGHT!
A few tips for pairing ties with patterned shirts..
  1. When choosing a tie that has a pattern, make sure it doesn’t mimic the pattern that’s in the shirt or suit — but choose something that will compliment. Contrast is key here in color and pattern. Example: Don’t do a green plaid tie with a green plaid shirt. (Pictured above to the left) Try a small blue check shirt with a red paisley or pindot tie. 
  2. It also helps to have a tie with white space… what’s that you say? You should look for “white space” in a tie?! We are not talking about actual white space, but what we mean is a tie that lets the pattern breathe. Something that has pattern in every square inch of the tie will seem crowded and will end up competing with any pattern shirt.

Now that you have a few basics for pairing shirts, ties and suits you can feel more confident in knowing what you are wearing works well together. Having this confidence helps if you are going into a job interview, big business presentation, or just making a big splash at your next Christmas or New Year’s party.


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