What Color Clothes Go Together? (Color Matching Chart For Men’s Clothes)

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Style Tips

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a tad confused when it comes to color matching your clothes. There’s a good chance you asked yourself at some point, “Does this color shirt go with that color pants?”, or “Do these colors match, or do I look ridiculous?”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions I get! Usually, guys have a tough time figuring out what colors go together when it comes to clothes. But hey, it’s not always so intuitive when trying to combine different color shirts, pants, and shoes together.

So I put together this article with easy-to-follow guidelines and tips, plus a color matching chart for clothes, if you’re more of a visual person, so you’re never unsure how to match your clothes again.

Let’s do this!

Figuring Out What Color Clothes Go Together

So here’s the basic idea. I’m keeping this as simple as possible. Four things to keep in mind.

  1. #menswearneutrals. Menswear neutrals are the KEY to outfits that ALWAYS “match” and never clash. Learn these, memorize them, use them. Watch the video above to see what I mean.
  2. Contrast is key. Light top, dark bottom, light shoes. Dark top, light bottom, dark shoes. You want a good amount of contrast among the three.
  3. Stay away from tonal outfits (all three pieces being the same color, or close in value). It can be pulled off successfully, but also has the possibility of looking kind of terrible. It’s a more advanced style concept which we’ll cover in a different article.
  4. Avoid tops that are too close to your skin tone. It makes you appear pale and washed out. Read this article for a more in-depth explanation.

Here’s The Color Matching Chart For Men’s Clothes (Save It For Reference Later)

The whole idea is to show you how easy it is to pair shirts and pants, and how to finish off the outfit with shoes. Now you won’t have to constantly ask yourself what color clothes go together… just use this chart and you’ll have (practically) endless possibilities.

How To Read The Color Matching Chart

  • Top Section: You have your pants, shirts, and shoes. This makes up your base outfit, with every color I’m using in this example. I labeled shoes A, pants B, and shirts C. (You’ll see why in a minute.)
  • Pants Out! For every outfit example, I started each outfit with the pants as the base. I think most of us choose a pair of pants first, then the shirt, then the mid-layer, shoes, jacket, etc.
  • Bottom Section: Each column = one pair of pants. Look at each column from top to bottom to see the different options for each pair of pants. I labeled each column B1-B5, one pair of pants per column.
  • A small selection of what’s possible: The choices that don’t make the list could still work, though I’m trying to keep this simple. In reality, there are many more possible combinations! But try these first.
  • Interchangeable and versatile: Almost every shirt / pants / shoes combo within each group of three is interchangeable, so don’t feel stuck with these exact match-ups.

Got it? Here it is:

a color matching chart for men's clothes that help you figure out what color clothes go together
Tap here for full size in new window

Using The Color Matching Chart

Yes it’s simplistic, but that’s a good thing. Here’s what you should keep in mind:

Start With The 3 outfits For Each Pair Of Pants

In the graphic above, you’ll see these are basic solids, and technically, all combinations can work. But, to make it easy when you’re starting out, focus on the top three choices I put together for you (basically the entire bottom section, 3 outfits per pant color).

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll no longer need this article and you’ll be able to figure out how to put together any color combination, not just the basics.

These Are Symbols (So Focus on the colors)

We’re discussing color, not illustration accuracy or level of formality. This visual guide contains symbols representing tops, bottoms, and shoes. These are not necessarily representative of any specific type of shirt, pair of pants, or shoes.

Why only basic colors?

It’s good to keep it simple, and to master the easy stuff before you move onto the more advanced color combinations. Simplicity is best! And also because if you’re following the Lean Wardrobe philosophy, you’ll have all these colors in your closet.

Additionally, if you’re adding mid- and top-level items based off the Lean Wardrobe pyramid, you don’t have to worry about matching those things (because it’s all about complementing, not matching).

Trust that these combos will look good, and…

Use your imagination. If you can’t, and visualizing all this is too difficult for you, maybe you should consider my seasonal guide, Effortless Outfits. It’s 10 items for the season, 10 outfit ideas, all laid out for you. No thinking required, just purchase and put on 😉


Go to your closet, pull similar items, and put them together for yourself so you can see how they look together. It’s a lot easier than you think.

Start with your pants (then shirt, then shoes)

I’ve started building these combos with the pants, but you can start with any item you want.

It won’t be EXACTLY the same (and that’s OK)

There will be varying degrees of darkness and lightness in your clothing’s colors, so use your best judgement. You may be dealing with a darker neutral, or a shade of blue that is lighter than the representative symbol you see here. Just keep in mind that contrast is key.

What about patterned or multi-color shirts? Multi-color shirts—anything from a basic contrast collar shirt to a tartan or multi-colored gingham—are best handled by asking yourself what the overall hue of the shirt is.

Hang your shirt against a blank white wall and walk to the other side of the room. Does it “read” blue? More red / pink? Neutral? What’s the major color that shows? Base the rest of your selections on how the shirt reads.

Khaki chinos, gray chinos (or trousers), and dark blue denim are safe bets, no matter the color of your shirt or shoes.

Matching Tips and Tricks in this Video

In this vid I discuss a few matching tips and tricks that aren’t in this article. You’ll find more videos on EG’s YouTube channel, so make sure to subscribe!

When Figuring Out What Color Clothes Go Together, Keep these things in mind

  1. Experiment (everything will be OK)
  2. There are no hard-and-fast rules (so you can’t really mess up)
  3. Have fun trying out new combos (once you feel comfortable)

If you remember the four points from the beginning of this post (stick to menswear neutrals, go for contrast, no tops too close to your skin tone, avoid tonal outfits for now), putting together combos from these basic colors is super easy.

Study the graphic FIRST, and if you have questions, let me know! You can always DM me on Instagram.

What’s changed?
01/19/2023Added more content, rearranged sections to flow better
11/12/2021Updated and added text, added / updated links
03/05/2020Original publish date