Pairing shirts and ties can be tricky at times, especially when it comes to color matching. The question is, can you really wear a black shirt with a black tie?
Black shirts can be worn with black ties as long as there is enough contrast between the two items to distinguish them. Choosing a shiny silk black tie in a shade of black that’s different from that of the shirt is a simple way to achieve this.
That may be the short answer, but as always, there’s a whole lot more to it.
What you need are tips you can put to practical use to wear this combination in the most effective way possible. That’s exactly what you’re about to get.
At the end, I’ll run through a couple of frequently asked questions on the topic to really finish things up in style.
So, let’s get to it.
7 Tips For Wearing A Black Shirt With A Black Tie
No matter where you’re going, consider all of these tips before putting your shirt and tie combo together.
1. Make Sure It’s Appropriate
Going for an all-black or nearly all-black aesthetic isn’t a decision to take lightly. It won’t be appropriate in all settings, but where it is appropriate, it can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.
The black shirt and black tie combination is most suitable for social events that take place at night time.
Dinners, dances, etc.
It isn’t as appropriate in work settings such as interviews where a white or baby blue dress shirt would be a lot more appropriate.
It’s also considered inappropriate to wear a black shirt and black tie to a wedding. One reason for this is that most weddings take place in the daytime.
But the main reason is that weddings are celebratory occasions while black has a more mournful tone to it. It’s generally considered a faux pas to wear all-black to a wedding.
However, for social evening settings, this shirt and tie combination can look sophisticated, elegant, and stylish.
If you feel as though it would work well, read on to find out how to do it the right way.
2. Choose A Tie In A Slightly Different Shade
“Black” isn’t a single color. Much like any other color you can think of, it’s a spectrum consisting of both light and dark shades of black.
Some shades are light enough to border on “charcoal grey”, while darker shades are unmistakably black and nothing else.
When wearing a black shirt with a black tie, what you don’t want is for the colors to blend so seamlessly into each other that the tie is barely visible.
When this happens, you might as well have skipped wearing the tie altogether.
Choosing a tie that’s in a slightly different shade to the shirt is the way to go. It’ll create just enough contrast for the tie to be visible and for the upper portion of your outfit to be broken up as a whole.
Here’s an example of this sort of shirt and tie combo on Amazon:
It’ll prevent everything from looking too monochromatic and make it more interesting as a result.
For example, if you’re wearing a dark black dress shirt, consider wearing a black tie that’s in a lighter shade.
Consider choosing a shade light enough to potentially even call charcoal grey if you really want to make it stand out against the backdrop of the black shirt.
If, on the other hand, you’re wearing a black shirt that’s in a lighter shade, wear a dark black tie that really pops out against its light backdrop.
The main point to take away here is that “black” isn’t a single color. Use this to your advantage when putting together a combination that doesn’t just blend into a single item.
3. Choose A Silk Black Tie Over A Woolen One
You can also add contrast between the black tie and the black shirt by choosing a tie with enough sheen to really stand out from the shirt.
Certain fabrics are just shinier than others. They’ll usually also feel smoother to the touch and will generally be more wrinkle-resistant as well.
Silk black ties are the way to go here. They’re durable, wrinkle-resistant, and shiny.
Here’s an example of one on Amazon as an example. The sheen is pretty clear to see even from the image:
There are different types of silk ties ranging from printed to woven. They come in a wide variety of colors, textures, and designs.
But you can usually bet that a silk tie will have a smoother and shinier appearance to it than cotton and woolen ties.
That gloss can be used to your advantage.
A black silk tie will stand out against the more matte appearance of a cotton black dress shirt.
Even if the shades of black are technically similar, the difference in texture and shine will still produce enough contrast for the look to work.
4. Consider A Tie With A Pattern
Choosing a patterned black tie is yet another way to make it stand out against a black shirt.
From polka dots to geometric patterns and paisley, there are countless different patterns your black tie could potentially have.
What they all have in common is that they can potentially add plenty of contrast to easily distinguish the black tie from the black shirt.
While louder patterns wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate for more formal settings, a simple striped or dotted pattern would usually be absolutely fine.
Here’s a more obvious example on Amazon:
Shirts and ties that might have the same shade of black and the same level of sheen could be distinguished from each other by even the simplest of tie patterns.
5. Add A Tie Bar For Contrast
Adding a tie bar could potentially serve two purposes.
One is that it keeps the tie in place. It’s a simple and cheap solution to what can be an endlessly frustrating problem of a tie flapping around.
But another, underrated benefit of a tie bar is the contrast it can produce in an otherwise simple and monochromatic formal outfit.
It would be a mistake to choose a black tie bar here.
Instead, choose a metallic tie bar with just enough glare to really stand out against the shirt.
It’ll make it obvious that you are in fact wearing a black tie and should prevent the tie from blending too much into the black background of the shirt.
It won’t be quite enough, however. You should still stick to the earlier tips in this list and try to achieve contrast between the tie and the shirt in different ways as well.
Adding a tie bar is just a way to achieve that a little easier as well as give you the benefit of a tie that actually stays in place throughout the evening.
6. Go For A Black Or Dark Grey Suit
When wearing a black shirt with a black tie, it’s generally best to go for either a black suit or a charcoal grey suit. While a navy blue suit can also work, the contrast can be a little too much for the average evening social event.
While the black suit, black shirt, and black tie combination may seem a little too monochromatic for some people, it’s usually the best way to go.
It’s almost as though you’re really fully embracing the all-black look instead of doing it halfway.
In addition, when wearing a black shirt and tie you do need to be careful that you don’t go too light with the suit you choose in any case.
The contrast can be a little jarring when it’s too great. Consider a white suit with a black shirt and tie as an extreme example to get an idea of what I mean.
Instead, keep things simple by either going for a black suit or a dark shade of grey such as charcoal grey.
Both of these options produce a timeless and classic aesthetic.
However, it does make it even more important that you try to produce some contrast between the black shirt and the black tie to break up the outfit a little.
Another trick would be to add a black belt with a shiny metal buckle. What this does is break up the outfit into a top half and bottom half, preventing everything from blending into one.
7. Wear Leather Black Dress Shoes
When wearing a formal black ensemble such as this, you’ll want to make sure your shoes look the part as well.
Always go for leather black dress shoes, whether it’s a pair of Oxfords, Derbys, monk straps, or loafers (in reducing order of formality).
You could go for suede if you wanted a more laid-back and “smart-casual” feel, or go for polished calfskin to really dress up for the occasion.
If you weren’t keen on black dress shoes and you wanted to add a little more contrast, consider a dark shade of brown instead.
It’ll be dark enough to sync well with the ultra-dark aesthetic of the rest of the outfit while standing out just enough to be noticeable.
8. Consider A Grey Pocket Square
A grey pocket square works very well with a black shirt and black tie combo. It complements the tie without matching it exactly.
This tip does assume you’re wearing a blazer or suit jacket, however.
If you are, adding a pocket square with even the simplest and straightest of folds would be another easy way to break up the outfit and make things look a touch less monochromatic.
Going for a grey pocket square instead of a black one is an intentional choice here.
It’s close enough to the color spectrum of the black tie to compliment it while being different enough to avoid matching it completely.
For one, perfectly matching the tie and pocket square is considered a faux pas by most. But at the same time, you’d be losing an opportunity to add a splash of contrast to your outfit as a whole.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a couple of FAQs on this rarely-discussed topic to round things up.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt With A Black Bow Tie?
A black shirt can be worn with a black bow tie. Choose a bow tie in a different shade of black to allow it to stand out against the backdrop of the black shirt. Silk black bow ties work better here because the sheen will add contrast as well.
The same tips and principles listed earlier apply here too.
The main focus should be preventing the black bow tie from blending into the black shirt and becoming hard to distinguish from it.
You want to make it clear that you’re wearing a bow tie to those around you, which is why choosing the right shade of black and a shiny fabric such as silk will be important.
Overall, however, the black shirt and black bow tie combination looks sophisticated and stylish in a variety of different formal settings.
It works well when worn with both black and charcoal grey suits.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Black Tie To A Funeral?
It’s possible to wear a black shirt and black tie to a funeral as the monochromatic look would be in keeping with the somber tone of the event. However, a white shirt and black tie would be a more traditional choice.
It’s true that black is considered the traditional color of mourning. Going for an all-black look may seem like the obvious choice.
However, it can be seen as a little excessive. In addition, the combination is also more commonly worn to social settings, unlike this one.
To play it safe, go for a simple white shirt and black tie combination when attending a funeral instead.
There you have it. Hopefully, everything you needed to know to wear this combination in style.
It’s simple enough, but there are definitely better ways of doing it.
You should now be a few steps closer to doing just that.