The Playbook For The Modern Man

A Guide To Mixing Colours & Patterns

There are many pairs of words that strike fear and panic into the hearts of men…  “Love you”, “It’s over”, “I’m pregnant” and the less renowned but equally fearsome “colour & pattern”. Getting this wrong can make you the eyesore of any social gathering.

To help you navigate this treacherous minefield, we’ll use the classic masculine pairing of a shirt and tie from the recent spring/summer catwalk show to demonstrate how to make colours and patterns work in your favour!

Common Faux Pas

When starting to mix colours with patterns, it is important to remember the golden rule of going bold: one should be subtler than the other. Never mix bright neon colour shirts with bold floral ties. It’s a look a modern day James Dean would struggle with and is not recommended for beginners!


When we hear the term ‘colour’ we instantly think bright and brash, and when we hear ‘pattern’ we think kitsch 60s prints and magnified geometric shapes. But this needn’t be the case – subtle pinstripes and pastel colours are just as relevant, so let’s wipe the slate clean and keep it simple with the following options.



Another easy way to solve the pattern and colour dilemma is to use the same colour but in different shades for your whole look. This dilutes bold patterns and makes them more appealing to the eye and manageable to wear.

A thick knitted tie adds pattern and texture for those a bit scared of actual patterns. Blue, green, brown and purple are probably the best colours to do this with, as there are so many shades available to play with.

Try the sophisticated look of a dark navy textured tie with intricate stitch work, paired with a high-quality pinstriped ocean blue shirt. Or a forest green checked tie with a khaki shirt, worn under a deep emerald suit for a stylish, effortless outfit. A deep maroon purple knitted tie wrapped around a starched lilac shirt is another sure-fire winner.

Statement Checks


As already mentioned, we don’t go bold with both the colour and the pattern – but for those fearless few who like to take risks, going bold in one of these areas can really pay off and leave you looking the epitome of style. The easiest way to create a bold look is to mix a bright coloured checked shirt with a patterned or thick knitted tie.

Pattern on pattern – not for the faint hearted, but not as hard to pull off as you might think. Using a very fine checked shirt with an even finer check on the collar, and a bold multi patterned tie in a darker shade, is a great start.


Remember to keep it masculine with strong angular shapes on the tie and team it with a navy or grey suit to ground the overall look.

Sophisticated Vintage


For the Mad Men types among us, lean towards sophisticated shirt and tie pairings that are classic and modern in equal measure. Silk ties with tight two-tone dots and layered grid patterns create a sharp Italian look.

Classic white shirts or more style-driven pinstripe bibbed shirts should be teamed with fine crosshatched or polka dot ties in neutral shades.

Try changing it up with slightly more fashion-led shirts – think baby pink striped shirts or a more daring tie in dark blue with a vivid horizontal stripe design – although remember that subtlety will go a long way here.



Show More



The playbook for the modern man

Get the very best of men's style, health, travel & culture delivered to your inbox.

Dont show me this again