The combination can look effortlessly sophisticated when done right, but unfortunately, there’s plenty that can go wrong. So, what color tie can you wear with a black shirt?
A black shirt can be worn with a slate or charcoal grey tie for a monochromatic, neutral color scheme. Alternatively, a tie in a dark shade of a “warm” color (eg. burgundy) or a “cool” color (eg. deep purple) can add a touch of contrast when paired with a black shirt.
That’s the short answer. But as always, there’s more to it.
After going through the “guidelines” to consider when pairing black shirts with ties, I’ll go through 5 combinations you can try out for yourself as well.
Matching Black Shirts With Ties – Key Principles
While it seems simple enough, it’s important to consider the following 3 principles before you put together your final shirt and tie combo.
1. Anything Goes (Technically)
Black, just like grey and white, is a neutral color. It’s easy to pair with other colors – in fact, you could pair it with practically any color you can think of and it would technically work.
It’ll work because the neutral black won’t conflict with the other colors you try to pair it with.
However, there are certain combinations that’ll look more formal while others look more casual.
Because of this, while you technically won’t get a color clash no matter what color of tie you choose, there will definitely be cases where certain tie colors are just inappropriate for the setting.
That leads me on to the next principle.
2. Consider The Dress Code
The more contrast you’ve got between the black shirt and the tie you pair it with, the more casual it’ll end up looking.
That’s why it’s important to consider the dress code or formality level of the setting you’re going to before picking your tie color.
We’ll go through both the more formal and the more casual black shirt and tie combinations shortly.
3. Know The Color Wheel
The color wheel isn’t essential, but it makes color matching a whole lot simpler. It takes the guesswork out of it.
- It shows the relationship between colors.
- It can be split into two halves – “warm” colors and “cool” colors.
- “Warm” colors (eg. reds, oranges, yellows) are vibrant and bold
- “Cool” colors (eg. greens, blues, purples) are calm and soothing
- Group clothes of similar hues together (closer on the color wheel) for less contrast and very different hues (far apart on the color wheel) for more contrast.
As black is a neutral color, it isn’t actually on the color wheel. Because of this, it isn’t as useful for grouping hues.
However, it’s useful for experimenting with warm-colored ties and cool-colored ties when wearing a black shirt. You’ll find that each of them will produce a different vibe and aesthetic.
We’ll be going through both of those options in the combinations below.
5 Black Shirt And Tie Combinations
You’ll see that the first two combinations have the most formal look and feel to them.
If you’re attending a more formal setting, strongly consider the “monochromatic” color scheme or the neutral-colored tie.
If, however, you’re attending a more casual setting and you’re looking for a little more contrast, the last three options may be the ones for you.
Monochromatic Black Shirt And Tie
Example: Black Shirt With Black Tie
It may sound boring, but it works. Wearing a black tie with a black shirt has an effortlessly sleek look to it.
It’ll also look formal enough for most settings. The combination would work well for formal, evening social events and settings.
It’s “monochromatic” because you’re pairing black with black.
The key to making it work is to choose two different shades of black so that the two items are easily distinguished from each other.
“Black” can actually refer to a range of different colors, some of which are actually light enough to be confused for a dark shade of grey.
The main point here is that the two shades of “black” should be different enough that the items don’t blend seamlessly into each other.
It usually looks better when the black tie is a little darker than the black shirt behind it.
Combine it with a dark and neutral-colored suit (either black or charcoal grey) and you should be left with a great result.
Black Shirt + Neutral Tie
Example: Black Shirt With Slate Grey Tie
We’ve discussed how black is a neutral color in itself. It can be very easily paired with another neutral color such as grey.
Keeping things as dark as possible should reduce the contrast between the black shirt and the grey tie, making it look more formal as a result.
The example above is of a black shirt with a slate grey tie. It’s noticeably lighter than the black shirt, but not so light that it produces too much contrast.
It’s worth mentioning patterns here as well, as the slate grey tie in the image above has a clear striped pattern to it.
In general, stick to one patterned item only – either a patterned tie or a patterned shirt. Not both.
While it’s possible to pair two patterned items together, it’s a little more technical and easy to get wrong.
Going for a solid-colored black shirt with a patterned tie would be the safest option.
Black Shirt + Warm-Colored Tie
Example: Black Shirt With Burgundy Red Tie
This is where we start to use the color wheel to distinguish between “warm” colors and “cool” colors.
Given that black is a neutral color, you could pick off both warm and cool colors from the color wheel and it would probably work.
However, regardless of whether you go for a warm or cool color, dark-colored ties will always look better with black shirts.
Lighter and brighter ties produce a lot of contrast when paired with a black shirt and the result is often too attention-grabbing.
As you can see from the color wheel, the “warm” colors we have to choose from are reds, oranges, and yellows.
In the example above, I’ve gone for a black shirt with a dark shade of red – burgundy to be more specific.
Black and red go very well together and choosing a dark shade of red just ensures that the result looks formal enough for most settings.
It won’t look as formal as the monochromatic/neutral color schemes in the previous two examples. But it’ll still look sharp enough for most formal, evening social events.
Black Shirt + Cool-Colored Tie
Example: Black Shirt With Dark Purple Tie
A “cool” colored tie would work equally as well with a black shirt. However, once again, a dark shade of a cool color would always work better than a light shade of the same color.
When choosing between a warm color and a cool color to go with your black shirt, consider the vibe you’re going for.
Warm colors are vibrant while cool colors are calm and relaxed.
In general, a warm color would be bolder and more striking and a cool color would be more subtle and understated.
In the image above you can see a black shirt paired with a dark purple tie. It’ll produce enough contrast to be noticeable, but it isn’t necessarily attention-grabbing.
Black Shirt + White Tie (High Contrast)
A black shirt paired with a white tie will always produce the maximum amount of contrast. The two colors are considered “complementary”.
A white tie over a black shirt will easily stand out. Due to the huge amount of contrast you get from the result, it’s the most casual option listed here.
It would only really be appropriate if you’re really looking to stand out from the crowd for whatever reason.
If you want to make a statement, a white-on-black aesthetic is definitely one to consider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions on the topic to round things up.
What Color Tie Should You Wear With A Black Shirt And Grey Pants?
A charcoal grey tie would work well with a black shirt and grey pants as it produces a neutral and monochromatic aesthetic. If contrast is preferable, a burgundy red tie would be a good alternative.
Once again, it really depends on the setting and required formality.
As the grey pants and black shirt are both neutral colors, you’ve got the freedom to choose practically any tie color you can think of.
However, stick to the five combination formats listed earlier on to make sure it looks right.
What Color Tie Should You Wear With A Black Shirt For A Funeral?
A dark grey tie would work best when wearing a black shirt to a funeral. It’ll be light enough to be noticeably different, while still being dark enough to not draw too much attention.
At a funeral, drawing attention to your outfit is the last thing you want.
At the end of the day, a more traditional white shirt and a 2-piece suit would be a better option than a black shirt.
If you were going to wear a black shirt, pick a tie with the minimum amount of contrast. A dark and neutral color would be your best option here. Grey is usually the simplest solution.
As you can see, the tie color you choose to go with your black shirt plays a big role in how formal or casual the end result will look.
If in doubt, go for a monochromatic/neutral color scheme as they’re hard to go wrong with.
If you want to get a little more bold and creative, consider a warm or a cool color in a dark shade to go with it instead.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.