Whether you’re ready to step away from the jeans and T-shirts or not, there are times when a man has to Just. Look. Sharp. It might be for a job interview, or a special occasion, or simply the desire to emulate James Bond on a random Thursday. Whether you’re new to the suit and tie look or a pro, a few basic guidelines will keep you looking good

Match your tie to your shirt.

This one’s easy: your suit jacket may come off, but your shirt won’t. (We hope.) You don’t need to match the tie to anything else, including your belt and shoes. The easiest combo in the world is a white shirt and pretty much any tie. Next level up: coordinate a neutral, solid-colored dress shirt with a tie in a similar color family. (We’ll have a whole post on color coordination soon, young Jedi.) Pick a tie that’s a darker shade than your shirt for a safe starter route. Avoid the novelty tie unless it lights up and you’re at a Christmas party. Actually, avoid it then also. As for clip-ons… let’s pretend you didn’t ask. Just say no.

Match your belt with your shoes.

Most important is to keep them tied together in texture and dressiness. Traditional colors of black, dark brown, oxblood or tan are easy to match. (Hopefully) needless to say: if you wear suspenders, you get to skip the belt.

Keep things proportional.

The width of your shirt collar needs to complement the width of your tie. The width of your tie should complement the width of your lapels. Easy.

Pleats vs. Flat-Front.

For most men, flat-front trousers simply look better. Period. If it’s a comfort thing that’s drawing you to pleats, buy a slightly larger size in flat-front and have them taken in at the waist by a tailor; usually they can do this in the store.


Step away from the white gym socks unless you are in fact at the gym. Officially, your socks should match the color of your pants, though it certainly doesn’t have to be the exact same shade. Unless you’re wearing black, in which case, for goodness sake, match your blacks. However, this is an easy place to show a little creativity. Experiment with patterns or colors, just so long as your pants, shoes and socks all tie together.


This is a great place to make a statement. Leave off the sports watch unless it’s REALLY slick, and invest in one good dress watch. Keep black band watches with black shoes and belt, and brown with brown. Silver, gold and mixed metal go with everything.

Coming soon – just for fun, mixing patterns!

Image Source: ModernBritishGent.com