Certain colors are simple to coordinate, but there are always better ways of doing it. So, what color shirt can you actually wear with black pants?
Black pants can be worn with white, off-white, or grey shirts for a neutral aesthetic. They can also be worn with warm (eg. pink) and cool-colored shirts (eg. blue) for more contrast. Pairing light-colored shirts with black pants is often best as it produces a sense of balance.
That’s the short answer, but there’s more to it.
After going through the guidelines to stick to whenever you color match black pants with shirts, I’ll go through 5 great combinations you can try out for yourself as well.
Let’s get to it.
Matching Black Pants With Shirts: The Guidelines
It’s worth mentioning here that “black pants” can refer to a wide variety of pant styles. It could refer to black dress pants, black chinos, black jeans, black flannels, etc.
We’re focusing on color-matching pants and shirts without thinking too much about the actual style or pant fabric here.
These guidelines would apply no matter what style of black pants or shirt we’re talking about.
1. Anything Goes (But Be Cautious)
Black is a dark and neutral color that will easily blend into the background of any outfit you can think of.
It can combine with practically any shirt color you can think of. At the end of the day, no matter what you do, it’ll probably “work”.
But that doesn’t mean you’d be going for the best option no matter what shirt color you go for.
Ultimately, contrast is key. Let’s talk more about that now.
2. Aim For Contrast
Aim for contrast between your black pants and your shirt whenever possible. Try to choose a shirt color that’s significantly lighter than the pants.
This should create a nice sense of balance and should also prevent the shirt color from blending into the pant color too much.
3. Use The Color Wheel
The color wheel gets mentioned a lot here, despite not being everyone’s favorite color tool. The trouble is, it’s undeniably useful when it comes to color-matching shirts and pants.
It’s just important not to overthink it. This is all people really need to know:
- It shows the relationship between different colors.
- It can be split into two halves – “warm” and “cool” colors as per the diagram above.
- Warm colors (eg. reds, oranges, yellows) are vibrant.
- Cool colors (eg. blues, purples, greens) are soothing and calm
- The color wheel can be used to group similar colors together (creating less contrast) or very different colors together (creating more contrast).
Black is a neutral color and completely outside of the color wheel. It can, technically, be combined with any color you see on that color wheel.
The reason “color temperature” (i.e warm and cool colors) is useful is because it helps to produce the vibe and aesthetic we want.
Pair black pants with a cool color for a more winter/fall-appropriate, calm, and laid-back outfit.
Pair black pants with a warm color for a more summer/spring-appropriate, vibrant, and bold outfit.
It’ll make even more sense as we go through the black pants and shirt combination examples down below.
5 Black Pants And Shirt Combinations
You’ll notice how the first two examples (white/monochromatic combos) are the simplest and most formal-looking. Consider them if you want a more formal outfit.
If you wanted splashes of color and a more smart-casual/business-casual outfit, consider the other combinations instead.
Ultimately, always consider formality whenever you make your decision.
Black Pants With White Shirt
This is possibly the easiest color combination because it’s so hard to go wrong with. Black and white are complementary colors that lie opposite each other on the color spectrum.
It’s a very high contrast combination, but because you’re pairing two neutral colors together it’ll always look formal enough.
It’s perfect for both formal and business-professional settings.
Here, we’re specifically talking about white dress shirts and black pants, but the color combination would work well for more casual styles as well.
For example, a white polo shirt with black jeans.
It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that if you’re ever in doubt, a white shirt and black pants combination is always one to consider.
Monochromatic Black Pants Combo
Example: Black Pants + Grey Shirt
“Monochromatic” color schemes use shades of the same color. It doesn’t mean you have to choose the exact same shade of black for both your shirt and your pants.
Doing so is actually considerably harder.
Wherever you go for a monochromatic color scheme, choose different shades of the same color to produce enough contrast for the items to easily be distinguished from each other.
If you go for black pants, consider a shirt in a medium or dark shade of grey.
Slate grey or charcoal grey shirts could work very well. They’re dark enough to seamlessly blend into the dark aesthetic while being light enough to contrast the pants just enough to be noticeable.
Black Pants With “Warm” Colored Shirt
Example: Black Pants + Pink Shirt
Going back to the color wheel, we can select a “warm” color (eg. reds, yellows, oranges) to add some vibrance and boldness to the black pants outfit.
In this example, the black pants are combined with a pink shirt. As you can see, adding a warm color such as pink into the mix produces a completely different aesthetic to the neutral combinations in the previous examples.
As we’re going for contrast, consider a shade of pink or red in a light shade to really balance out the black pants.
Black Pants With “Cool” Colored Shirt
Example: Black Pants + Blue/Green Shirt
Pairing “cool” colored shirts with black pants will produce a more calm, relaxed, and winter/fall appropriate aesthetic to it. Greens and blues work especially well.
Consider a light shade of these colors to add some contrast to the darkness of the black pants.
It isn’t essential but will make it clear that the outfit has been thoughtfully color-coordinated.
Black Pants With Multi-Colored Shirt
Example: Black Pants + Flannel Shirt
Multi-colored shirts can be tough to color-match sometimes. When you’re wearing black pants, however, it’s actually pretty easy.
This is thanks to how neutral and muted the color black really is. No matter what colors are included in the shirt, they won’t conflict with it.
In the example above we’ve got a flannel shirt consisting of blue, red, and white.
Given how a shirt such as this is definitely too casual to be paired with black dress pants, I’ve used black jeans to illustrate the point instead.
The main point here is to not worry too much about wearing multi-colored shirts and black pants. It’ll work.
Instead, take a step back and figure out what the main color or hue of your multi-colored shirt really is.
Using the flannel shirt above as an example, you can see that it mainly consists of the color blue and should be considered a “cool” colored shirt for that very reason.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a couple of FAQs to really finish things up nicely.
What Color Shirt Should You Wear With Black Pants And Brown Shoes?
When wearing black pants and brown shoes, consider wearing an off-white or light grey shirt for a neutral aesthetic. Alternatively, baby pink or light blue shirts can add a touch of color. Wearing a brown belt to match the brown shoes will round off the outfit.
Ultimately, you don’t need to worry too much about shirt color when wearing black pants and brown shoes as both of these colors are muted.
Instead, use the shirt/pant combinations listed above to come up with one that fits the setting and formality you’re dressing for.
The most important point here is to wear a brown belt to match the brown shoes. Doing so will make any brown shoe outfit look more “complete”, no matter what the other colors you’re wearing are.
What Color Shirt Should You Wear With Black Pants And A Grey Blazer?
When wearing black pants and a grey blazer, consider an off-white or sky blue shirt. Keeping the shirt color very light and very neutral like this should produce a nice sense of contrast when combined with the dark-colored blazer and pants.
This is especially true when you’re wearing a blazer in a dark shade of grey.
Wearing a light-colored shirt should prevent the entire outfit from coming across too dark as a whole.
There you have it. A quick and easy guide to color coordinating black pants with shirts.
Given how neutral black is as a color, it isn’t complicated. However, as you can see, it’s important to consider the formality of the setting and the season whenever you make your decision.