Men’s Color Matching Style Guide

How to effortlessly match
colors for men’s clothing

Written by Salvatore Marashi

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

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

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
Complementary Colors

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

Triadic Colors Diagram
Analogous 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

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,
  • Green: Nature, wealth, envy
  • Orange: Health, youth,
  • 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.

color tint
A shade, on the other hand, is
when a color is mixed with black.

color shade

Lastly, a tone is made when a
color is combined with grey, thus both tinting and shading it.

Color tone

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 best color
combinations you can use in men’s color matching. And by “best,” we mean
classic combos you can’t go wrong with. You can always experiment on your own,
of course.
Navy and White

Navy and white color match

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 color match
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 color match

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). Furthermore, the color match of green and khaki just gives off
woodland vibes. So maybe you’re more into tents than you are into tanks. That
works, too.
Brown and Cream

brown and cream color match

Have you been smoking Cubans,
or chilling on a pool deck in Manila? We love the laidback magnate look of
brown on tan on lighter tan on tan on tan. Go for it.
Brown and Burgundy

brown and burgundy
Give off scholarly vibes. Not
the nerdy professor, but the well-read tenured man who’s lived in Morocco and
sips on Johnny Walker Blue. Dark, deep red mixed with brown is a passionate and
rich combination.
Grey and Pink

Grey and pink color match

Low-key sensitive and edgy.
That’s what grey and pink say for you. Grey has a muted, understated tone,
while pale pink adds the spice of something unexpected. This is a modern color
combination, but we believe it will be a classic in no time.

Black and White

black and white color match

The all-time classic. You
literally can not go wrong with pairing black and white. No one will tell you
it’s a weird color combination. In fact, the high contrast gives a clean and
elegant look. The one addendum is that black and white can be somewhat formal,
depending on how you wear it. That’s why Black-Tie and White-Tie events are the
Wearing Yellow

We like euphemisms. Instead of
a pre-2005 car being considered “old,” we’d like to say it has character.
Likewise, we like toning down yellow with a shade called “mustard.” Adding a
pop of mustard adds life to your outfit without drowning it out in the
audaciousness of a brighter yellow.

mustard colored clothing
Mustard goes well with darker
clothers, for a slightly alternative, slightly grunge feel.
Wearing Orange

Same goes for orange. 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. It can be pulled off by choosing a
more muted shade like “rust.” Just make sure that you let that color shine and
keep the rest of the look less pronounced.
rust colored clothes
Pair rust with darker colors
and neutral solids.
Bad Color Combos for Men’s

bad 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
Brown and Black

This combo has been considered
a sartorial no-no for many years. To put it bluntly, the combination gives off
Oliver Twist pauper vibes. However, this isn’t to say it’s never been pulled
off quite successfully.
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

color match accessories

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

color match wrist watch

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

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

tie color match solid shirt
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

tie color match printed shirt
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?

tie color match pocket square
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

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!
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.