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What color dress shirts go with what color pants?

What color dress shirts go with what color pants?

Choosing the right color combinations for dress shirts and pants is key to looking sharp and put together. The most basic rule is to aim for complementary colors that don’t clash. However, there are also more advanced guidelines around creating a unified look versus high contrast. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of optimal shirt and pant color pairings for a range of contexts and preferences.

Basic Guidelines

As a baseline, it’s best to avoid matching the exact same color for your shirt and pants. Wearing the same color on top and bottom can look boring and flat. Instead, go for shirt and pant colors with enough contrast so they complement each other without blending together.

Some classic color pairings to consider:

  • White dress shirt with navy, black, gray, tan/khaki pants
  • Light blue dress shirt with navy, black, gray, tan/khaki pants
  • Pink dress shirt with navy, black, gray, tan/khaki pants
  • Light green dress shirt with navy, black, brown, tan/khaki pants
  • Purple dress shirt with black, gray, tan/khaki pants

As you can see, neutral pants colors like navy, black, gray, and tan pair well with a wide range of shirts. Bolder shirt colors like pink or purple go best with more subdued pants.

Monochromatic Looks

While pairing contrasting colors is the default, you can also create sharp monochromatic looks by wearing the same color shirt and pants. This can project a bold, stylish aesthetic when done intentionally with darker colors like black or navy.

Some examples of monochromatic shirt/pant pairings:

  • Navy shirt with navy pants
  • Black shirt with black pants
  • Charcoal gray shirt with charcoal pants
  • Forest green shirt with forest green pants

Lighter hues like tan, light blue, or pink are harder to pull off in monochromatic pairings. But for a confident, edgy look, go for monochrome with charcoal, navy, black, or other darker colors.

Creating Contrast

For events where you want to look extra sharp, go for high contrast between your shirt and pant colors. Pair a brightly colored or boldly patterned shirt with neutral pants. Or vice versa – try a muted, plain shirt with brightly colored pants. This contrast will make your outfit pop while remaining stylish.

Some high contrast examples:

  • Royal blue dress shirt with tan pants
  • Salmon pink dress shirt with navy pants
  • White shirt with burgundy pants
  • Light blue gingham shirt with gray pants

Just be sure that brightly colored shirts and pants still complement each other – for example, avoid combining a bright yellow shirt and bright red pants. Go for color contrasts that align, like blue with tan or pink with navy.

Coordinate with Suits and Ties

When building a full suit-and-tie ensemble, make sure your shirt, tie, and suit choices all coordinate. The shirt should complement the suit color, while the tie brings the whole look together.

Some examples of coordinated dress shirts, ties, and suits:

  • White shirt, navy tie, navy suit
  • Light blue shirt, burgundy tie, gray suit
  • French blue shirt, green striped tie, tan suit
  • Pink shirt, navy dotted tie, navy suit

Aim for ties that pick up one color from the suit, and another color from the shirt. This ties the whole outfit together in a polished, professional way. The tie is the finishing touch that pulls the ensemble together.

Business vs. Formal Wear

For business wear, prioritize subtle, versatile colors that easily pair together. Neutral shirts (white, light blue) with neutral suits and ties (navy, gray, black) are safe choices.

For more formal wear like weddings, galas, or cocktail attire, take more risk with brighter colored shirts and accessories against dark suits. Contrasts draw more attention for special occasions.

Some examples of business vs. formal looks:

Business Formal
White shirt, navy suit, blue tie Royal purple shirt, black suit, silver tie
Light blue shirt, gray suit, navy tie French blue shirt, black suit, gold tie
White shirt, black suit, red tie Pink shirt, navy suit, striped tie with navy and silver

Color Combinations by Season

Some shirt and pant color combinations work better in certain seasons or weather. Here are seasonal guidelines:

  • Spring/Summer: Light and bright colors like sky blue, mint green, tan, white, pink. Avoid black.
  • Fall: Deeper tones like royal blue, purple, burgundy, forest green. Tan, gray, navy also work well.
  • Winter: Darker shades like navy, black, charcoal, hunter green. Avoid white.

In summer, light greys or tans paired with light blue or pink shirts have a sunny, warm weather feel. In winter, rich greens or navys with white create a sharp, cold weather contrast.

Dress Shirt and Pants Color Combinations by Skin Tone

Certain colors pairings tend to be more flattering against certain skin tones. Here are guidelines for optimal shirt and pant colors based on skin tone:

Skin Tone Best Color Combinations
Fair/Pale Light blue, pink, purple, green shirts with navy, gray, tan pants
Light Olive Light blue, light pink, mint, lavender shirts with navy, gray, khaki, brown pants
Medium Tan Royal blue, bright pink, green, purple shirts with black, gray, tan pants
Dark Brown Teal, yellow, magenta, orange shirts with black, gray, tan pants

Lighter skin benefits from deeper, darker colors that add contrast – like light blue or pink shirts with navy pants. Darker skin can pull off bright, saturated colors for contrast – like orange shirts with tan pants.


Matching dress shirt and pant colors doesn’t need to be complicated once you know the basic guidelines. Stick to complementary hues that contrast but don’t clash. Neutral pants pair well with most brighter shirts. For formal affairs, create a cohesive suit-shirt-tie ensemble. And pick colors that flatter your skin tone.

Most importantly, choose color combinations that reflect your personal style and make you feel confident. With the guidelines above, you can start perfecting your own sharp dress shirt and pant pairings.