Shorts have an effortlessly casual and laid-back feel to them. However, that doesn’t mean that color-coordinating them becomes irrelevant. So, what color shirt should you wear with grey shorts?
Grey shorts can be worn with shirts in neutral colors such as white, black, or grey for a minimalist and muted aesthetic. Alternatively, they can be worn with shirts in “warm” colors (reds, yellows, oranges) or “cool” colors (blues, purples, greens) for more contrast.
Although that’s the short answer, as you’d expect, there’s a whole lot more to it.
I’ll first go through the main principles and guidelines to stick to when color matching grey shorts with shirts, before diving into some great combinations you can try out for yourself.
Let’s get to it.
Color Matching Grey Shorts With Shirts: Main Guidelines
Sticking to these three basic principles should help you put together a well-coordinating shorts combo, each and every time.
1. Try To Aim For Some Contrast
Try to achieve a sense of color contrast between the top and bottom half of your outfit.
If you’ve gone for light grey shorts, consider wearing a dark-colored shirt up top. If you’ve gone for dark grey shorts, consider wearing a light-colored shirt to go with it.
While it isn’t essential, aiming to achieve a sense of contrast (light vs dark) between your grey shorts and the shirt you wear with them should produce a nice sense of balance.
2. Consider Formality
Shorts are undeniably casual no matter what style of shorts you go for.
But it’s no secret that certain shorts styles will look more casual than others. This is important because it could influence the style of shirt you choose to go with them.
For example, sweat shorts are about as casual as you can get.
Trying to pair them with an OCBD shirt may lead to a bit of a formality mismatch, with the shirt looking a little too formal to go with them.
A dressier pair of shorts (eg. chino shorts) would work a lot better with an OCBD shirt.
However, it’s important to note that it’ll get to a point where no matter how dressy your shorts might be, the shirt you wear is simply too formal to go with them.
In general, dress shirts rarely look good when worn with shorts.
Examples of casual and smart-casual shirt styles you can wear with shorts include:
- Linen shirts
3. Consider Color Temperature
The “color wheel” is useful but is often made too complicated. But it’s useful because it shows how certain colors relate to other colors.
This allows you to pair similar colors to produce less contrast, or pair very different colors to produce more contrast.
The main points are as follows:
- The wheel is split into two halves – “warm” colors and “cool” colors.
- Warm colors include reds, yellows, and oranges. They’re striking, vibrant, and bold.
- Cool colors include blues, greens, and purples. They’re calm and soothing. They’re also more associated with winter and fall.
- Neutral colors are white, grey, and black. They aren’t on the color wheel but are subtle and simple enough to pair with any color you can think of.
Grey is a neutral color. This is helpful when pairing grey shorts with shirts because you know those shorts can be paired with practically any color of shirt.
However, it’s still important to consider color temperature (eg. warm vs cool) when making your decisions because it’ll influence the general vibe and aesthetic of your outfit.
A pair of grey shorts combined with a warm-colored shirt will look and feel different from a pair worn with a cool-colored shirt or another neutral color.
5 Grey Shorts And Shirt Combinations
Now we’re going to use the principles and guidelines above to come up with solid grey shorts combinations based on them.
Example: Grey Shorts With A Grey T-Shirt
Monochromatic outfits can sometimes put people off because of how simple they are. But it’s hard to deny that they work.
The mistake that most people make when doing it is to choose shades of grey that are exactly the same. The grey shorts and the grey shirt just blend into each other – it rarely ever looks good.
Instead, choose a shirt in a shade of grey that’s noticeably different from that of the shorts.
Going back to the guidelines listed earlier on, try to achieve a sense of contrast here. If you’re wearing light grey shorts, consider wearing a dark grey shirt (like in the image above.
Alternatively, if you’re wearing dark grey shorts, go for a light grey shirt instead.
Grey Shorts With Neutral Shirt
Example: Grey Shorts With White Or Black T-Shirt
The “neutrals” are white, grey, and black. We’ve already covered grey above, so I’ve included a white and black T-shirt in this image.
Pairing neutrals with other neutrals is ridiculously easy to do. While its simplicity may not appeal to everyone, it has a great minimalist aesthetic to it.
It’s worth mentioning that there are other colors that are considered “neutral” in men’s style that aren’t truly neutral. However, they can be considered neutral because of how muted and easy they are to combine with other colors.
They include navy blue, olive green, and khaki.
When wearing grey shorts, feel free to experiment with shirts in these (kind of) neutral colors – it should still give you a great muted and minimalist outcome.
Grey Shorts With Warm-Colored Shirt
Example: Grey Shorts With Orange Or Red Shirt
Refer back to the color wheel and take a look at the half consisting of “warm” colors (reds, oranges, and yellows).
The neutral grey shorts can easily be paired with any shade of these colors and it would work. That’s the beauty of neutral colors.
Adding a splash of a “warm” color such as orange or red is a great way to make a simple grey shorts outfit look a little more vibrant and summer-ready.
The image above is of a pair of grey shorts, a pretty bold orange polo, and a red T-shirt.
You can immediately see how the outfits would look more striking and attention-grabbing than the monochromatic/neutral combinations we went through in the previous two examples.
With the grey shorts being so muted, you’ve got the freedom to go for a bright and pastel-colored shirt if you wanted to.
Alternatively, you could go for a lighter and more muted shade of a warm color if you wanted a more subtle outfit as a whole.
Grey Shorts With Cool-Colored Shirt
Example: Grey Shorts With Mint Green Polo Shirt
Referring to the color wheel again, you can see that the “cool” colors we can work with are blues, purples, and greens.
Once again, with grey being such a gloriously neutral color, you could wear grey shorts with shirts in any of these colors pretty easily.
Much like with warm colors, you’ve got the option of going for brighter and bolder shades of these colors if you wanted to.
But the image above is of grey shorts laying aside a very light mint green polo shirt.
Subtle, simple, and versatile.
But whatever shade you choose to go with, a “cool” colored shirt worn with grey shorts will give you a different feel and aesthetic to a “warm” colored shirt.
It’s more relaxed, calm, and winter/fall-appropriate.
Grey Shorts With Multi-Colored Shirt
Example: Grey Shorts With A Plaid Shirt
Shirts consisting of multiple colors can sometimes be tough to coordinate, simply because you don’t know which color to focus on.
In other words, which of the colors should you be trying to coordinate with those grey shorts?
With a color as neutral as grey, it really doesn’t matter much because any of the colors contained within the shirt would work well with it. It becomes more of a problem when you’ve got a “louder” color on your shorts.
The image above is of a flannel shirt consisting of the colors blue, red, and white. But taking a step back, you can pretty easily see that the shirt is mainly blue.
Therefore, this is what should drive your color-matching decisions. Just think of it as a “cool” colored blue shirt.
Color-matching grey shorts with shirts is pretty simple thanks to how neutral grey really is.
But taking color temperature into account when making your decisions should help you put together a well-thought outfit that takes preferences, seasonality, and formality into account.