Matching shirts and ties have long walked a fine line between stylish and naff, but this season designers have created such cracking ideas for patterned combinations that I’m inspired by the possibilities. Putting different patterns together harmoniously can be tricky – but pull it off, and it’s knockout.
The patterned shirt-and-tie buzz really takes off at Fendi, where the autumn collection is themed around the 1970s golden era of airline travel – its catwalk show even recreated a baggage conveyor belt. New takes on club-stripe shirt-and-tie combos are realised in a ’70s palette of burnt oranges, azures, browns and beiges. Particularly strong are the coordinated shirts (£850) and ties (£100) with matching stripe designs, and those with diagonal checks and chain motifs. These are the kind of vintage-nuanced palettes and patterns that I have spent years trawling the internet for.
A brigade of other brands is also taking a strong stripe-on-stripe position. Dunhill has a striking dark-on-dark pairing of navy stripe shirts (£295) with rich burgundy multi-stripe wool/silk selvedge ties (£150). They feel masculine, suave and fresh and add edge to a tailored outfit. At fledgling Italian brand MSGM, narrow regimental diagonal stripe ties (£85) in chocolate and blue (or white with grey or pale-blue pinstripes) are paired with vertical stripe shirts (£260) and double denim for a casual look with attitude.
Vivienne Westwood, who always designs ties that subvert traditional ideas of Britishness, presents a particularly cool design (£75) in silk jacquard that has wide diagonal brown stripes overlaid with unevenly spaced multicoloured stripes travelling in the opposite direction. The corresponding horizontal/vertical stripe cotton shirt (£270) has a high-tab, curvy collar. It’s a brilliantly bold combination.
For those confident enough to style their own out-of-the-ordinary combos, look to the stunning interpretations of club-stripe ties from Japanese-Florentine brand Seven Fold and its collaboration with Zen tie master Kenji Kaga. The three-fold jacquard ties (€175) in gorgeous vintage-inspired colours are the special ones – in particular old gold with ice blue and burgundy, or airforce blue with chocolate, amber and claret stripes. I asked Kenji Kaga if he would ever pair these with striped or patterned shirts. “Teaming a patterned or a striped tie with patterned shirts is a skill,” says Kaga. “But the results can be amazing.” Also worth investigating are Kaga’s sevenfold printed silk ties (£190) from Florence brand Tie Your Tie.
Check on check is another strong trend. Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label combines a monochrome houndstooth knitted tie (£170) and Glen plaid check shirt (£480) to suave effect. (Finishing off the look with a check topcoat, as the brand has done, is a trifle over the top, but a navy flannel coat would be a winner.)
But what about stripe on check? When Brooks Brothers staged a one-off runway show in Florence earlier this year to mark its 200th anniversary, it paired a red gingham button-down shirt with a red and amber club tie, and a navy gingham shirt with a blue polka-dot tie. Sadly, many pieces were only made for the event, but the combinations showed with undeniable flair how such pairings can lift the mood of a charcoal pinstripe suit. At Hermès, this positive energy can be seen again – charcoal suits are styled with white shirts (£1,450) with black and gold tartan checks, and narrow oxidised-silk chartreuse ties (£160) with yellow polka dots. More polka dots on check can be found at Giorgio Armani, where a blue micro-print check shirt (£320) is presented with a black and yellow polka-dot tie (£140). Worn with a charcoal grey flannel suit, it delivers a quietly individual formality.
Esteemed Parisian shirt-and-tie institution Charvet offers many elegant variations on the polka-dot theme. Particularly notable is the pairing of a blue and green check shirt (€355) with a textured blue woven-silk tie (€160) with green dots. “The mélange yarn gives the tie a sophisticated rustic aspect,” says Anne-Marie Colban of Charvet, “while mixing blue and green both in the shirt and the tie creates harmony.”
The boldest combinations are perhaps better suited to eveningwear. Take the exotic prints and colours at Bottega Veneta: a lime and black zebra-print shirt (£450) worn with a light-green and charcoal block-print silk tie (£135) is a showstopper, as is a dark chamomile and black cotton shirt (£450) worn with a dark-green silk tie (£135). And highly charged combinations at Tom Ford that crank up the attitude include grey Glen plaid check shirts (£450) with pointed spear collars juxtaposed with python-print silk ties (£195), all delivered in a harmonious grey colour scheme.