Men’s Color Matching Style Guide How to Effortlessly Match Colors for Men's Clothing

Understanding color and understanding style are synonymous. Colors affect how we perceive things like emotions, thoughts, and events. Thus, color is one of the most integral influences in life. This fact is crucial when learning to become a stylish man. For this article, we’re getting into why men’s color matching is so important.

The colors we choose to wear say as much about us as they do about how we are perceived. So for my stylish ‘gents out there, we’re going to get into everything there is to know about color’s role in men’s fashion and how you can implement better color combinations into your outfits.

Understanding Color Themes and Basic Color Theory

I’m sure you are all familiar with the color wheel. Good. That grade school art class information is going to come in handy. If not, shame on your teachers. Either way, here’s a refresher.

Color Wheel for Men's Color Matching

The color wheel is comprised of basic colors. These colors are the basic basis for every color you could imagine. Therefore, understanding these colors first is important. On the wheel, there are primary colors consisting of red, blue, and yellow and secondary colors of green, purple, and orange.

Associated Colors

These are colors directly adjacent from each other on the wheel. Associated colors are important for monochromatic looks. Think blue jeans and a blue t-shirt or a navy suit and chambray button-up.

Complementary Colors

These are colors opposite from each other on the wheel. Used together, they make a noticeable contrast. Complementary colors are for bold, attention-grabbing looks.

Triadic Colors

Triadic colors are three colors equidistant from each other on the wheel. They make for a balanced outfit that incorporates multiple colors.

Analogous Colors

Analogous colors are three colors that reside next to each other and share a dominant color in the middle. The dominant color is either a primary or secondary color.

Men’s Color Matching Theory

Theory of Men's Color Matching

Now that you’ve gotten refreshed on the specifics of the color wheel, there’s another foundation you need to know for men’s color matching. Color theory’s role in the perception of color. Each color correlates to how we as humans (maybe aliens too) perceive certain things. Here are some examples.

  • Red: Danger, passion, anger, immediacy, love
  • Blue: Trust, calm, stability
  • Yellow: Attention, warmth, energy
  • Green: Nature, wealth, envy
  • Orange: Health, youth, attraction
  • Purple: Luxury, royalty, mystery, creativity

Tints vs. Shades vs. Tone

Okay, now that we’ve got that down, it’s time to introduce black and white into the mix. Tints are the mixing of a color with white. A shade, on the other hand, is when a color is mixed with black. Lastly, a tone is made when a color is combined with grey, thus both tinting and shading it.

3 Best Color Combinations for Men’s Clothing

I know you’re saying that color theory is interesting and all but when am I going to learn how to use it in my style? Well reader, the answer is right now. Here are the three best color combinations you can use in men’s color matching.

Navy and White

Navy and White Colors for Men's Matching Color

Navy and white is men’s color matching at its finest. The contrast between navy and white is super pronounced, giving both colors space to pop. More so, it is a classic combo, invoking things like sailing style.

Style this look by pairing white jeans with a dark denim shirt or navy button down. The reverse of navy chinos and a crisp white oxford is a timeless look as well.

Grey and Black

Grey and Black for Men's Matching Color

Grey and black is an (almost) criminally underused color combination. The subtle variation from grey to black creates contrast while at the same time being muted. The tint in darker greys is reflected in whatever piece of black clothing you are wearing. Ultimately, you capitalize on both the contrast and the complementary nature of the colors.

Wear this look with a pair of heather grey chinos and a black t-shirt or reverse it with a dark grey polo shirt and some black jeans.

Green and Khaki

Green and Khaki for Men's Color Matching

Military wear is a heavyweight for influence in menswear. It’s obvious then that the military combo of green and khaki is one of the best color combinations a man can rock (i.e camouflage).

Our favorite pairing is with tan chinos and a green top. A military-inspired jacket is a perfect piece to nail the look.

Good and Bad Matching Color Combinations

Good Color Combinations for Men’s Clothing

Brown and Black

Black and Brown for Men's Color Matching

This combo has been considered a sartorial no-no for many years. However, this time our style-minded ancestors were wrong. Black and brown is a great color pair. The darker hues provide a subtle and balanced look. Additionally, the brown delivers an understated flash of color against, the sometimes drab, black.

Yellow and Navy

Yellow and Navy for Men's Color Matching

Navy and yellow (or more specifically mustard), is another unexpectedly great set of colors to wear. Going heavy on the navy can weigh your look down. Adding a pop of mustard adds life to your outfit without drowning it out in the audaciousness of a brighter yellow.

For the look, a mustard colored sweater over blue chinos, topped off with a blue blazer is a killer combo.

Red and Blue

Red and Blue for Men's Color Matching

This combo is a tricky one. Red and blue look great together. The only problem is it leaves you looking like a patriotic reveler on the 4th of July. That’s great for the holiday but not so much for the other 364 days of the year. To help you out of this situation, consider variations of these colors.

Ultramarine and maroon capture the best aspects of the color combo without the connations of the holiday.

What to Wear with Orange

How to Wear Orange in Men's Color Theory

Orange is notoriously difficult. Besides not rhyming with anything, actually wearing it is even harder. Orange is a bold color and demands attention. That doesn’t mean that you should hide from it though.

A great orange look can be pulled off by choosing a more muted shade like “rust” and letting it grab peoples focus. Just make sure that you let that color shine and keep the rest of the look less pronounced.

If I were you I’d wear the look by throwing a rust colored sweater over some dark grey chinos. From experience, it gets a lot of compliments and that’s never a bad thing.

Bad Color Combos for Men’s Clothing

Bad Color Combinations for Men's Color Matching

Not all color combos are a good fit. Men’s color matching is a dangerous game. Putting together the wrong colors will yield some pretty disastrous results. Don’t believe me? Just look at the picture above. I know that while the case for any of these can be made, as a general rule, you should avoid them.

Red and Green

What’s the first thing you think of when you see red and green together? yep, Christmas. Leave thus combo to ugly holiday sweaters.

Red and Orange

Both of these are considered hot colors. Red and orange are too bold to be shacked up together.

Green and Orange

Green and orange are a bad pair. The color green is usually very neutral while orange is loud. Unlike grey or black, green is too colorful to be dulled down by a competitor. Skip this one.

Purple and Yellow

I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how this one could work and I can’t. I’d like to give you more sartorial insights on this one but all I can say is that the colors simply don’t look good together. Yellow is either too bright or its tints leave it too neutral to ever stand up to a color like purple. That’s right Lakers fans, your color combo is bad.

If you can make it work, please show us in the comments below.

Best Colors for Accessories

Best Jewelry Colors For Men

Men's Jewelry Colors for Men's Color Matching

The best colors for men’s jewelry is more about which colors they’ll work with and less about the colors themselves. Most men’s jewelry comes in black, brown, gold, silver or bronze. Luckily for your style, these colors pretty much go with everything.

When picking the right accessory for your outfit, consider the color balance. For instance, silver will probably go better with a bolder color like red than say gold would. An easy trick is to match your accessories with things like a buckle on your shoes or the color of your belt. This’ll create a subtle nod to the color scheme without overdoing it.

Best Watch Colors

Men's Watch Colors for Men's Color Matching

Every color imaginable has been represented in a watch. So just apply the same color matching rules here as well. Classic colors like silver, gold and black tend to be the most versatile.

What Color Should my Tie Be?

Choosing your tie color all comes down to the color of the shirt it’s going over. Ties are one of the most varied products on the market. Finding a great tie comes back to your understanding of colors. Let’s dive into this a bit.

What Tie to Match with a Solid Color Dress Shirt

What Color Tie to Pair with a Solid Color Shirt for Men's Color Matching

First off, solid color dress shirts are low fuss. Their colors are simple and flattering. So your job us to add some life into that look. That means contrasting the colors. If you opt for a light color shirt, go for a darker complimentary colored tie.

Patterned ties also work well here. Since your shirt as a base is pretty straightforward colorwise, adding multiple colors in a patterned tie with perfectly standout.

What Tie to Match with a Patterned Shirt

What Color Tie to Pair with a Patterned Shirt for Men's Color Matching

This a bit more difficult. Patterned shirts contain multiple colors, meaning that your tie has to seamlessly match with all of them. For this reason, you’ll want to go for a solid-colored tie. This shifts the focus on the shirt and won’t clash. If your tie matches one of the colors in the pattern, even better.

What color should my Pocket Square be?

What Color Should my Pocket Square be for Men's Color Matching

Pocket squares are woefully underused. The pocket square is able to bring what the tie can’t. Pocket squares can be bolder and have interesting designs and patterns that’ll draw attention to a suit that otherwise might be boring without it.

If you’re wearing a tie with your pocket square, here’s something to keep in mind. Matching the two together might seem like a good idea but often it ends up looking like you’re trying too hard. Here are two options instead.

First, you can match your tie and pocket square colorwise as long as the pocket square has some design in a contrasting color. This connects your outfit aesthetically while still being fresh. Alternatively, you can go for a color on the opposite end of the spectrum. An orange pocket square with a navy suit and tie is a fantastic choice.

Closing Thoughts

Color matching is an important part of men’s style. It informs what we choose to say to the world about our style as well as how we want others to see us. Hopefully, by now you see how easy color matching is. Once you’ve mastered it, pulling off the perfect outfit will be second nature.

What’s the one color you couldn’t live without? Talk to the GentleManual community below!