Checks & Balances: A Guide to Matching Ties with Gingham Shirts

  1. Checks & Balances
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    Checks & Balances

    As gingham season descends, office workers fall into two categories: a) those who know how to match their checked shirts with the appropriate tie, and b) utter doofuses who end up looking like Fonzworth Bentley. Remember, this is gingham, not Vietnam: There are rules.
  2. Gingham-on-Gingham
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    Gingham-on-Gingham

    “Whether in the boardroom or a cocktail party in the Hamptons, always keep it preppy and cool,” says designer Tommy Hilfiger. “Pairing a gingham shirt and tie with a solid navy suit allows the shirt to pop in just the right way.” Thomas Pink executive Simon Maloney says: “Gingham shirts work well with a variety of tie styles—straight ties, bow ties, skinny and knit ties. Feel free to experiment.” Tommy Hilfiger shirt, $68; tommy.com. J. Crew tie, $60; jcrew.com.
  3. Texture and Bold Colors
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    Texture and Bold Colors

    “If you have a bright, patterned shirt, a solid knit tie looks great,” Hilfiger says. “Colorful and contrasting combinations are best suited for fashion risk takers,” says Hoffs. Astor & Black shirt, $135; astorandblack.com. Brooks Brothers tie, $78.50; brooksbrothers.com.
  4. Big Stripes
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    Big Stripes

    “Gingham reads solid from afar,” says Brooks Brothers men’s fashion director Glen Hoffs. “The smaller-scale the check, the more appropriate for formal occasions.” Jack Spade shirt, $165; jackspade.com. Astor & Black tie, $85; astorandblack.com.
  5. Inside the Box
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    Inside the Box

    “For a shirt with a small gingham pattern, a tie with a small, simple pattern works best,” says Maloney. “A solid tie complements shirts with a larger block check. Bolder tie patterns on larger checks tend to fight too much. Also, the bolder color ginghams are better with solid, coordinated ties.” Thomas Pink shirt, $160; thomaspink.com. Tommy Hilfiger tie, $68; tommy.com.
  6. Lots of Polka Dots
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    Lots of Polka Dots

    “Since gingham is more casual, stick with skinny ties if going for a sporty look,” says Alexander West designer Alexander Yoo. Alexander West shirt, $195; alexander-west.com. Jack Spade tie, $125; jackspade.com.
  7. Fewer Polka Dots
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    Fewer Polka Dots

    “Mixing and matching patterns can be a fun twist,” Hilfiger says. Yoo agrees: “It’s all about creating a contrast.” J. Crew shirt, $80; jcrew.com. Thomas Pink tie, $105; thomaspink.com.
  8. Solid—With a Twist
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    Solid—With a Twist

    “Keep the number of colors to a minimum,” Yoo says. “More than three colors between the shirt and tie will complicate an already difficult task.” Maloney’s rule of thumb: “One color in the tie must be in the shirt.” Hilfiger adds: “When in doubt, keep it simple.” Brooks Brothers shirt, $69; brooksbrothers.com. Band of Outsiders tie, $130; shopbandofoutsiders.com.
  9. You Don’t Have to Be Bold ...
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    You Don’t Have to Be Bold ...

    Following slides: Tie designer Alexander Olch’s simple rules for pairing a tie with a gingham shirt

    “The easiest trick is to wear a solid color tie,” says Olch. Stick with the same color intensity: If your shirt’s a muted tone, your tie should be too.
  10. ... But You Can Be Bold
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    ... But You Can Be Bold

    “Neckties look best with gingham shirts when they contrast,” notes Olch. Try complementary combinations or ­differing patterns.
  11. Get Crazy With Texture
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    Get Crazy With Texture

    “Contrasting textures also help,” says Olch. “If the tie is linen, it will create an even more interesting look with a cotton shirt.”
  12. It’s O.K. to Match
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    It’s O.K. to Match

    “Colors could roughly match,” adds Olch. For example, “a navy blue solid tie always works well on a navy blue gingham shirt.”