It’s been said that Italians are more experimental with their jackets, whereas the English are more adventurous with their shirts. Not that you can’t combine both of these worlds (see our friend Barima), but most men opt for one or the other. With a bolder sport coat, a solid white or light blue shirt fades into the background – providing support for a dark tie and complementing the wearer’s skin tone. If your tailored jackets are more conservative, however, you have a bit more freedom to be expressive through your shirts and accessories.
We’ve gone on record saying that you should build your shirt wardrobe around whites and light blues (I lean towards blue more than white, and find having a handful of bolder stripes helpful). There’s a strong case to be made for other colors though.
For one, a light pink or lavender shirt can be a nice way to uplift a conservative navy or grey suit (you can anchor them with a solid navy or charcoal tie). Striped burgundy and green shirts can also be great with casual sport coats.
I also really like these examples from The Armoury’s co-founder Mark Cho (taken from their store’s recent blog feature). In the first two images, he’s sporting shirts in a slightly-off shade of blue – something just far enough from your usual sky blues to be interesting. With the brown sport, he’s gone for a striped, slate blue shirt. With the gray suit, he’s wearing a darker chambray. Again, a solid navy tie here helps ground everything. When in doubt about what kind of tie you can wear, a solid navy or black knit are almost always failsafe.
The third photo is a bit more daring, but also perfect for the season. Here, a navy suit is combined with a pale yellow, button-down shirt and leafy green tie – just right for spring.
Notably, Mark goes back to a solid, light blue shirt when he’s wearing a checkered, honey-colored sport coat, reminding us that both the English and Italians have something to teach when it comes to combining colors.
(photos via The Armoury)