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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
... But You Can Be Bold “Neckties look best with gingham shirts when they contrast,” notes Olch. Try complementary combinations or differing patterns.
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.”
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.”