Dark and neutral shirts are pretty easy to color-match, but there are definitely ways of getting it wrong. So, what color pants go with a navy blue shirt?
A navy blue shirt can be worn with maroon, forest green, or plum purple pants in more casual settings. If you’re looking to dress up, wear the navy blue shirt with charcoal grey or black pants instead.
You’ve got options, but the one you choose will definitely depend on the circumstances.
You’re about to learn the key points necessary to make it work the right way. After that, we’ll go through some combos you can try out for yourself.
Matching Pants With Navy Blue Shirts: Key Points
These are the points you need to consider whenever you color-match a navy blue shirt with a pair of pants.
1. The Dress Code Is Important
Find out the dress code or at least have a vague idea of what dress code might be expected. Get this part right and the rest is easy.
The dress code should influence the color of the pants you choose to wear with your navy blue shirt.
Navy blue has the benefit of being dark and neutral. Technically, it isn’t one of the core neutrals (white, black, or grey), but is still dark and muted enough to be considered neutral.
Because of this, it’s a great option to wear to dressy events. But the color of the pants you wear with it is crucial here.
A rundown of the main dress codes:
- Formal – Wear a navy blue shirt with a dark, neutral pair of pants such as dark grey or black. Avoid navy blue pants – it’ll look too monochromatic.
- Business-Casual – Consider a navy blue shirt with light and neutral pants such as tan, off-white, or even khaki.
- Smart-casual – Light neutrals would be fine, but you’ve got the freedom to go for more colorful pants (eg. reds, greens). However, it’s best to choose muted shades of these colors to keep things subtle.
It’s worth mentioning that a navy blue shirt wouldn’t be appropriate to wear in the workplace. Stick to the classic white or light blue dress shirts instead.
2. Consider How Much Contrast You Want
The more contrast you have between the navy blue shirt and the pants, the more striking and casual it tends to look.
If this is what you want, consider a pair of pants in a light color to contrast the dark shade of navy blue.
If you’d prefer a dressier look, go for a darker pair of pants instead. Remember, dark neutrals work well for this purpose.
3. The Color Wheel Can Help
The color wheel is a helpful (but at times frustrating) tool that can be used to coordinate your outfit.
It’s split into “warm” colors such as reds, oranges, and yellows on one half, and “cool” colors such as blues, greens, and purples on the other.
Warm colors tend to look more lively and energetic, while cool colors tend to look more relaxed.
Notice how neutral colors (white, black, grey) don’t appear anywhere on the color wheel.
You could pair a navy blue shirt with warm-colored pants, cool-colored pants, or neutral-colored pants.
While navy blue could technically be called a “cool” color, it’s dark and muted enough to be labeled a neutral.
This is useful to know because you can easily pair a navy blue shirt with practically any color of pants if you wanted to.
We’ll refer back to the color wheel later on.
Navy Blue Shirt And Pants Combinations
Run through these combos and see which one best suits your needs. There’s a good chance that one or two of them may be more appropriate for you depending on the setting you’re dressing for.
Navy Blue Shirt With Dark Grey Or Black Pants
Dress Code – Formal Or Business-Casual
Color Scheme – Dark Neutrals
Other Potential Items – Black Oxford or Derby shoes, black leather belt, slate grey blazer.
Pants in dark shades of grey (eg. charcoal or lead grey) or black are great options if you’re looking to dress your navy blue shirt up.
The darker and more neutral the pair of pants you wear, the better.
While you could wear a navy blue pair of pants with your navy blue shirt, it’s generally best to avoid it.
You want a noticeable contrast between the shirt and the pants.
The dark aesthetic of a navy blue shirt paired with a dark, neutral pair of pants would work well in evening social settings with a formal dress code.
It wouldn’t be appropriate for the workplace, however. Go for a light, neutral-colored shirt here instead.
Navy Blue Shirt With Khaki Or Light Grey Pants
Dress Code – Smart-Casual And Business-Casual
Color Scheme – Light Neutrals
Other Potential Items – Light grey blazer, brown leather belt, brown Derby shoes.
Light and neutral-colored pants (either dress pants or chinos) would work well with a navy blue shirt in smart-casual and business-casual settings.
While a white or light blue dress shirt would usually be more appropriate in business-casual settings, a dark blue shirt probably wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows.
Leave the top button undone (no tie), pop on a pair of brown dress shoes (Derby shoes work well) and a light, neutral-colored blazer (eg. light grey).
It’s laid-back, but not too laid back.
Pants in khaki, tan, light grey, and beige are incredibly easy to pair with a navy blue shirt but do lead to quite a high-contrast look.
Because of this, it won’t look quite as formal as the dark neutrals in the previous example.
Navy Blue Shirt With Light Blue Pants
Dress Code – Smart-Casual
Color Scheme – Monochromatic
Other Potential Items – Dark grey or black blazer, tan brown dress shoes.
Once again, avoid the navy blue shirt and dark blue pants combination. If you did want to wear blue pants, go for light blue pants instead.
The shade of blue needs to be noticeably different from the navy shirt for it to work.
But it’s important to note that wearing a pair of light blue or medium blue pants will look pretty casual.
It’ll probably look too casual to successfully pull off in a business-casual setting.
However, it would make for a great smart-casual outfit.
The blue on blue would lead to a monochromatic combination. To break things up a little, consider a blazer in a shade of grey or black.
Navy Blue Shirt With Red, Green, Or Purple Pants
Dress Code – Smart-Casual
Color Scheme – Warm Or Cool Colors
Other Potential Items – A neutral-colored blazer if you want to dress it up. Suede shoes work well
This is the point where we start experimenting with more exciting, non-neutral colors. It’s also the point where things get more casual.
Referring back to the color wheel, you’ve got the option of wearing the navy blue shirt with pants in “warm” colors such as reds and yellows.
You’ve also got the option of wearing it with pants in “cool” colors such as greens and purples.
It’s incredibly easy to wear “cool” colors with a navy blue shirt given how technically navy could also be labeled a cool color.
It’s a great option during the winter/fall months, but can confidently be worn all year-round.
When doing so, however, stick to dark and muted shades of those cool colors to play it safe.
For example, hunter green, forest green, or plum purple.
If you wanted to wear warm-colored pants with the navy blue shirt, once again, go dark and muted.
Burgundy and maroon are hot favorites, with mustard yellow being a more striking alternative.
Navy Blue Shirt With Dark Orange Pants
Dress Code – Smart-Casual
Color Scheme – Complementary
An orange pair of pants worn with a navy blue shirt is likely to turn some heads. For some, this may sound appealing.
Blue and orange lie directly opposite each other on the color wheel. In other words, they’re “complementary”.
Wearing them together leads to a huge amount of contrast, but it definitely works.
This high-contrast aesthetic would really only be appropriate in smart-casual settings and nothing more formal than that.
It also generally suits a specific type of personality – more forward and outgoing. That’s something to bear in mind with eye-catching color combinations such as this one.
The navy blue shirt is pretty effortlessly dressy but is versatile enough to be worn for a variety of different dress codes.
The color of pants you choose to wear does play a huge role in making it work.