Clothes Color Matching Tips for Men

November 13, 2019 10 min read

Clothes Color Matching Tips for Men

For some men, matching pieces of clothing according to color may seem like a daunting task. Thankfully, learning how to match clothes is simple once you understand how particular hues contrast and complement each other. As the providers of high-quality men's clothing, our team of professional tailors and wardrobe experts are here to help guys of all style profiles color match their clothing. Our guide will teach you how to color match your outfit from head to toe, including tips on:


  • Knowing the difference between matching, complementary and contrasting colors.
  • How to match clothes and shoes.
  • What color shoes to wear.
  • What color belt to wear.
  • How to match accessories with shirt and pants color.


Matching Your Shirt and Pants

A comfortable shirt and pair of pants are invaluable. If you're like most guys, there's nothing better than effortlessly slipping on your favorite jeans or T-shirt no matter the occasion. You want to feel the best in your clothing, but you should also want to look your best when going out and about. To stay comfortable and confident in every scenario possible, we suggest learning how to match your clothes correctly. Knowing how to match your shirt with your pants can completely enhance your look.

1. Matching vs. Complementing vs. Contrasting Colors

Have you ever noticed how one guy will look great rocking all-yellow or orange ensembles while another man just can't seem to pull off a basic gray or black outfit? Much of this doesn't have to do with the guy's style as it does his ability to correctly piece his apparel together according to matching, complementing and contrasting colors. Once you know how to integrate color combinations into your wardrobe correctly, you'll look fantastic.

Each primary color — red, yellow and blue — has a corresponding complementary color:


  • Red and green
  • Blue and orange
  • Yellow and purple

Match Same or Complementary Colors with Contrasting Hues

Complementary colors are always colors that are opposite from another color on the color wheel, this includes all secondary colors that primary colors create such as purple, orange and green. The key to matching either the same color or complementary colors is contrasting hues. For example, you can match a dark pair of blue jeans with a lighter orange shirt. By making one piece of colored clothing a darker shaded than its complementary piece, you'll create contrast. For same-color ensembles, the same applies.

You can also dress neutrally and add just a touch of color to your style. Neutral colored pants, jackets, shirts and shoes — including whites, grays, browns, blacks and other muted, plain or subdued hues — give you a great foundation to work with. Think of matching your everyday pants and shirt like you would a neutral-colored suit. Wearing khaki or black pants and a neutral white shirt allows you to add a bit of color with accessories. Some bold color pairing options you can try include:


  • Analogous color matching: Matching multiple color shades right next to each other on the color wheel is a great way to look stylish without worrying about choosing the right contrasting or complementary colors.
  • Triadic color matching: Matching multiple colors that are equal distances apart from one another on the color wheel is another way to create a stylish appearance without seeming too colorful.


2. Coordinating With Your Unique Features

Your complexion plays a big role in coordinating your outfits correctly. Skin tone, eye color and hair color can all have a subtle or substantial impact on how well your outfit complements your natural appearance. There are three types of contrast — high, low and medium. High contrast men have skin tones that highly contrast their hair color while low contrast men have lesser hair and skin contrasts. Medium contrast men typically have dark skin with dark hair or light skin with light hair, both of which aren't too contrasting.

Men with higher contrasting features should dress with equally contrasting colors, such as wearing dark slacks with a light shirt. Men with lighter contrasting features should try to wear outfits that follow a monochromatic color scheme — for instance, pants and shirts of a beige, brown or gray coloring. Medium contrast men will often dress in a similar shade to their complexion, although they can experiment with the contrasting shades to find the style which suits their features best.

Here are a few general rules of thumb when matching shirts and pants:


  • When in doubt, neutral or complementary combinations will look better than trying to match the same color shirt and pants.
  • When adding color, make sure it contrasts the other colors correctly by choosing a darker or lighter shade.
  • Always have neutral pants, shorts or slacks available as they are easier to match.
  • Don't overdo when adding color to your neutral outfit — instead, choose one piece of colorful apparel to enhance your presentation like a jacket or sweater.
  • Ask for advice when picking out your outfit. Everyone from your trend-setting friends to professional clothiers can help you make the right decision that fits your style and personality.


How to Match Shoes With Your Outfit

Learning how to color match your clothing enables you to fill your closet with dozens of awesome outfit options. Though choosing the right shirt and pants colors is important, you can't forget that your outfit style isn't truly top-notch until you've also learned how to match clothes and shoes. Knowing what color shoes to wear with a variety of formal, business and casual wear will help you avoid common style pitfalls that some men make while pairing their shoes with other pieces in their wardrobe.

Before you concern yourself with the color of the shoes you choose, you must first choose the right style to complement your outfit. Just as choosing the right pair of slacks and shirt for an occasion is important, it's also wise to know when and where your shoes are appropriate in certain contexts. Depending on the occasion, you'll need to match the correct shoes to one of the following pant options:


  • Jeans: Nearly any shoe style can match well with a pair of jeans. A good rule of thumb is to pick a shoe style that matches your outfit's level of formality. For a casual look, try loafers or trainers, and for a classier look, a pair of leather shoes or boots will work well.
  • Casual pants: Many types of shoes will work well with casual pants. Usually, it's best to stay away from athletic or novelty shoes and opt for loafers or other casual shoes.
  • Dress pants: Formal slacks deserve formal footwear. Whether you're wearing a suit or not, always aim to wear the appropriate style of formal shoes to look professional, presentable and prepared to impress.


When choosing your shoe color, keep these tips in mind:


  • Black shoes: If you're ever wondering what color shoes to wear with your outfit, black shoes are the first pair you should try. This color looks good in every shoe style as long as the style is paired correctly with the pants.
  • Brown shoes: Brown shoes are perhaps the second most versatile color of shoes you can have due to their wide range of shades that vary from formal to informal. The key to wearing brown shoes correctly is matching their shade and style to your outfit. Lighter shades are considered more relaxed than darker shades.
  • Tan shoes: Tan is a neutral color that is a good alternative to brown shoes. Although they are much more informal than brown shoes, tan can add a touch of serious style to casual wear like jeans, boating shorts and dressier slacks.
  • Blue shoes: Blue or navy shoes may not be in your closet, but they could give your look a style upgrade if worn appropriately. These colors are often found on textured shoes like canvas or suede and can mix well with some black or neutral outfits.
  • White shoes: White trainers are a classic staple in many men's closet for good reason. These comfortable shoes are neutral and can work with nearly every outfit in your wardrobe. From cargo shorts to casual slacks, as long as you keep your white shoes clean, you'll find that they can be slipped on for almost any informal occasion.
  • Color shoes: Most shoes that feature non-neutral colors will be athletic, casual or novelty shoes. While they will pair well with certain color combinations, you should have an appropriate outfit in mind when buying colors that may clash with the rest of your wardrobe. Either aim to wear them with a neutral outfit or have a go-to set of shirts, pants and accessories that cater to the shoes perfectly.


There are a few other notable suggestions to remember when choosing your shoe type and color. Many of these rules may seem obvious, such as not wearing athletic shoes with a suit no matter how well they pair with the color scheme. Here are a few other tips to remember:

Tips for Matching Your Shoes with Your Outfit

  • Your shoes should be presentable. Keep them cleaned or polished to make your outfit's colors flow together beautifully.
  • Solid color shoes are always a better option than multicolored shoes and dark colors like black or brown are usually perfect defaults for most outfits color schemes.
  • Shoes with bright colors should be matched or complemented with muted tones in the pants or shirt.
  • Wear the right style of shoes for the right occasion, even if they don't lend you the style you want. It's always better to wear a neutral color of the right shoes than to wear the wrong shoe type.


Choosing Socks Based on Shoes and Outfit

When choosing socks, remember that white tennis socks should only be worn when you're engaging in athletic activities. While it may seem like matching your socks to your shoes is the best option, you should instead try to match them with your pants, either in the same shade or a complementary color. Only match them with your shoes if your outfit is monochromatic, like all black, for instance. You could also choose a more stylish route and match or complement your socks with your shirt, tie or other accessories.

Matching Accessories to Your Outfit

Many men accessorize their outfits daily, whether they're aware of it or not. Everything from a belt, tie and hat to their choice of watches, jewelry and even bags can either add an additional layer to their style or completely disrupt their outfit depending on how accessory colors work with or against their clothing colors. Though small, these enhancement pieces should be given as much attention as the other pieces of your clothing. Here are some tips on matching accessories according to clothing color.

1. Belts

Even if it will be primarily covered by your shirt or jacket, you need to make sure your belt doesn't clash with your outfit. If you choose fabric, what color belt to wear depends on your shoe color. If you're wearing leather shoes, a leather jacket or another leather accessory with a leather belt, you'll want to match these leather colors as closely as possible to each other. Matching your belt color exactly to or with complementing colors to other accessories only enhances your style profile.

2. Hats

How to Match a Hat with Your Outfit

Some guys won't leave the house without a cap while other men will only top their outfit with a hat that's designed for the occasion. Whether or not you choose to wear a hat often or rarely, you'll gain more style points by matching its color with your outfit. You can always default to neutral-colored hats without worrying about clashing or choose to wear a novelty or sports hat as your own stylistic hallmark. If you want to match the color to your outfit stylishly, consider these options:


  • Choose a solid colored or complementary multicolored hat as a splash of color for a neutral outfit.
  • Pick a hat color that complements your shirt and shoes.
  • Select a hat color that contrasts your shirt and shoes.
  • Wear a hat that matches your shoes and other accessories.
  • For formal or semi-formal outfits, try to match your suit jacket and pants color before matching your tie or undershirt color.


3. Bags

Your choice of bag needs to be equally stylish and practical. You should give attention to the material and color of the bag as it complements your outfit. Premium materials tend to work better with a more sophisticated outfit while a stylish canvas goes great with a casual look. Basic colors are great options, especially neutrals that pair well with a variety of outfit combinations. When choosing bags with patterns and designs, choose the opposite — wear neutral-colored outfits with stylish bags colored coordinated with your outfit's accessories.

4. Watches and Jewelry

When it comes to any type of metal you wear, the rule of thumb is to always match your metals based on color. Essentially, it doesn't matter if you wear silver and chrome or gold and brass as long as their colors match up. For many men, this means matching your watch, rings, chains, earrings and even your belt or shoe buckles. However, wearing a wedding ring, favorite watch or piece of jewelry that has sentimental value is always the best choice even if it technically does clash.

5. Ties

Choosing the right tie can be difficult for some men, especially those who do not wear ties often. Whether you're dressing up in a suit for a wedding or simply rocking business casual with a stylish tie, this is one item of clothing that you always want to choose correctly. When in doubt, choose to forego the tie if it's not required. Choose a tie based on your complexion and the colors of your outfit. For ties, use the same tips above for matching shirts and pants.

However, one exception comes in the form of multicolored or patterned ties. The ties themselves will either have complementing or contrasting color and patterns, making it a challenge to match with many outfit combinations. The best piece of advice is to always purchase ties that match specific outfits you already own. Consider wearing that specific shirt, pant and shoe combination when shopping for a new tie that's multicolored or strongly patterned so you can immediately determine whether or not it will clash or complement the outfit.

Penner's: Matching Your Style With Quality Clothing

Achieving a style that keeps you comfortable and confident is easy when you know how to match clothes and shoes. Color matching clothes and knowing what color shoes to wear to enhance an outfit can transform the way look. At Penner's, we believe every man should look and feel good in the highest quality clothing available. Our selection of guayaberas, shoes, hats, shirts, suits, sport coats, jeans, pants and accessories are available in a variety of color combinations for men of all sizes.

Match Your Style with Quality at Penner's

Browse our inventory of stylish apparel or speak with our professional staff today. Our tailors are ready to give you the perfect fit and the best shopping experience you've ever had!