Nobody demonstrates the versatility of a navy suit better than British actor Bill Nighy. Nighy, who regularly features on Esquire’s Best Dressed Men of the World, is open about selecting the navy suit like a uniform of sorts.
A navy suit can even be substituted for the traditional black “black tie” suit, provided it’s appropriately paired with the right shirt and tie. That’s where most of us mere mortals fall apart, though. How does one know the right accessory for the occasion?
Fortunately, we’ve been able to source some tips from the experts. After all, while we may not all be able to replicate Nighy’s sartorial elegance, there’s certainly no harm in trying.
Introduction to Colors
On the color wheel, colors next to each other are referred to as similar. You can use two or three similar colors together without any fear of offense.
Complementary colors are on the opposite side of the wheel from each other. Complementary colors throw each other into relief, making their partner color appear brighter and more striking.
Some colors are evocative of emotions and affect our moods without us even being aware of it. Blue is regarded as inviting, peaceful, and trustworthy. This could account for the popularity of blue suits. But introducing additional colors through shirts and accessories could change the effect of this. For more on the emotions evoked by different colors, see here.
A Nod to Texture
We’ll be talking predominantly about color in this article. However, it’s worth mentioning that ties are made from various materials, using several techniques, each of which generates a unique texture. Always consider fabrication when selecting your ties.
A knitted wool tie has a chunky look that automatically lends a more casual feel to your outfit. In contrast, a high-thread-count silk plain weave will have a sheen that shouts luxurious formality.
White Shirt Combinations
A white shirt will take any tie, so, for this combination, concentrate on matching your ties to your suit. Allow the white background of your shirt to create the contrast that makes your choice stand out.
Orange is complementary to blue on the color wheel, so shades of this, or the colors that make it up, red and yellow, will always be shown to excellent effect when paired with blue. A solid burnt orange tie like this one adds a pop of color, while the herringbone weave adds texture.
For a sophisticated yellow, go for mustard or champagne. If opting for red, burgundy and rust shades will keep things muted and elegant, while brighter reds can give a more athletic “preppy” look.
For black-tie events, pair your navy suit with a white dress shirt and standard black bow tie. In 2014, Bradley Cooper wore a navy Alexander McQueen tuxedo to the BAFTAs in London. It’s a look he’s repeated since with great effect, as recently as 2019 in Geneva. An ordinary black necktie with a navy suit and white shirt will suit any formal or semi-formal situation.
Brown and grey ties can lend an air of understated elegance to a navy suit but stick to darker hues.
Top tip: Online shops will often allow you to place ties on different shirts and suits. Use these types of applications to see how your intended look will pan out.
Pink Shirt Combinations
Pink is a popular shirt match for a navy shirt if you have the confidence to pull it off. It’s a modern look that leans to casual rather than formal. Choose a pale pink – it’s a shade that looks good on all skin tones. Pink’s neighbors on the color wheel are red and mauve, and their complementary colors are dark green and green, respectively.
The true complementary color of pink is lime green, which we don’t recommend risking. If you want to bring in green, make it one color in a pattern as in this floral.
When using pink, red, or mauve as your tie color on a pink shirt, ensure you pick a darker shade than your shirt. Opt for fuchsia, magenta, burgundy, and similar shades.
Top tip: A subtle red and white vertical stripe or micro check can give the effect of a pink shirt from a distance but pack a punch up close.
Blue Shirt Combinations
A blue shirt paired with a navy suit is the start of an elegant monochromatic look. A dark navy necktie will polish it off perfectly. To avoid a flat effect, introduce a pattern to either or both of the shirt and tie. When using a pattern on a pattern, keep the bolder, larger-scale pattern on top with the tie.
To intentionally and elegantly break the monochromatic theme, a burgundy, dark purple, grey, or brown tie will do nicely. To ramp it up a bit, select a floral in a combination of these colors and select a small scale gingham for your shirt. Or, for a quirky, casual look, try a chambray shirt with a floral bowtie.
Green Shirt Combinations
Green and blue are adjacent on the color wheel and can be used together to create a calming effect. Pick up the nature theme with a botanical print tie that includes a dark navy in the pattern.
Lavender Shirt Combinations
Blue and purple are next to each other on the color wheel, so this combination approaches a monochromatic look if paired with a navy or dark purple tie. The complementary color of lavender is yellow-green. Try a tie in olive green or khaki like this plaid one to make your look pop.
A navy suit is an excellent choice for almost any occasion. In this article, we’ve given you some ideas of what ties will create particular looks. This is only intended as a guide to instill confidence.
Keep in mind that fashions change, although some looks are timeless. So what color tie with navy suit? Ultimately, you’ll want to establish a style that reflects your unique personality. Elements of this should carry across all your outfits, regardless of the event.