I love dressing up during the holidays.

The weather is chilly. We can layer up fabrics with interesting textures. And for plenty of us, it’s the only time we get to throw on a shirt and tie.

The season also allows us to be a bit daring and creative with color, more than we would during a typical 9-5 workday. (It’s the holidays! You have a free pass to wear plenty of red and green.)

In this article, I’ll show you three ways to pair up a shirt and tie this holiday season, from your more conservative option, to ones that are gradually more daring (yet still appropriate and awesome).

I partnered up with my friends at Spectre & Co. to help you sort out a few details when it comes to color and pattern pairing with your shirts and ties.

Spectre & Co. has become one of my favorite shirt brands, so I’m happy to use their goods in my examples today. They make slim, tailored shirts at a great price (starting at $45), along with a few other staples like ties, belts, scarves, and vests.

The shirts themselves have elements of Italian styling, featuring traditional width semi-spread, spread, and cutaway collars. You also have your standard button-down collar as well.

A quick note about sizing: I find that I have to size up for a comfortable fit. I usually purchase shirts with a 15 neck, 32/33 sleeves. For these shirts, I buy 15.5 neck, 34/35 sleeves. Just something to consider if you decide to peruse their shirt section.

One other thing I find interesting is that Spectre & Co. owns the whole vertical, from the factory and production, to distribution, to their retail end. Why does this matter to you, the shopper? Quality-driven attention to detail for each garment at wallet-friendly prices, that’s why.

Forbes profiled the company late last year, in case you wanted to read more.

Anyway, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of this article, namely, how to make sure you look killer at your next holiday party!

I’m going to assume you’re also wearing a suit, dress trousers, or a sport coat. You’ll see my color suggestions for each section under “As far as the rest of the outfit”.

Keep in mind that these combos would also work with chinos or denim, if you’re going for a more casual vibe.

Three shirt and tie picks for a killer holiday outfit

1: Simple and straightforward

combo 1

White semi-spread shirt, red and green plaid tie, green and gray plaid tie

A simple white shirt is a classic choice. The nice thing about a white shirt is that you have the opportunity to go buckwild with your tie, and there’s no chance of clashing or mismatching.

General Rule of Thumb: The simpler your shirt, the bolder your tie can be

A white shirt lets you punch up the color and pattern of your tie. Since it’s the holidays and all, why not go for a green and red plaid?

If that’s too Christmasy for you, an alternative would be this (relatively) more subtle green and gray plaid tie.

As far as the rest of the outfit: Stick with neutral or dark solids, and subtle patterns in tonal colors (brown tweed, gray flannel, navy cashmere, etc).

2: Texture-focused

combo 2

Green micro gingham, brown glen plaid tie, brown multicolor dot tie

Things are getting more interesting as we start to introduce a bit of pattern. The micro gingham pattern is small. So small, in fact, that from afar, you can barely tell there’s a pattern at all. It looks like a green shirt with a bit of texture.

Because of this, you still have plenty of opportunity to incorporate a bold tie. Just make sure the pattern is larger in scale than the shirt pattern. A micro gingham tie, for example, would look a little weird.

For the rest of your outfit: You can go either way. It’s always safe to wear neutral, dark solids, or tonal fabrics with texture. You could also wear a suit or sport coat made from fabrics with bolder patterns such as glen plaid, or houndstooth with an overcheck.

3: Bold shirt, subdued tie

combo 3

Red plaid shirt, navy blue check tie, dark grey herringbone tie

At the other end of the spectrum, we have a bold red plaid shirt paired with a more subtly-patterned tie. You’ll notice the tie has an interesting check pattern, but because of its tonal shades, it won’t compete with the shirt.

Alternatively, you could wear the dark grey herringbone tie. Same idea, different color and pattern.

General Rule of Thumb (on wearing multiple patterns): Vary the pattern sizing within one outfit. The larger the pattern, the more subtle its tones should be. This will help avoid any unwanted clashing or excessive busyness.

Make sure that when you’re wearing multiple patterns, you keep a majority of it tonal, so you don’t risk clashing or having your overall look be too busy.

Also play with the patterns’ scales. If your tie has a larger-scale pattern, keep the other patterns you’re wearing at a smaller scale. It’s all about balance.

For the rest of your outfit: Stick with neutrals or dark solids. Textured fabrics will work, but make sure there’s little to no color variation. Charcoal herringbone wool, brown tweed, and light gray flannel are all acceptable options.

Which pairing is your favorite?

You can’t go wrong with any of these choices. It all depends on your mood and personality.

Experiment a little. If you usually play it safe with solids, try something more bold at your next holiday party. Start with a patterned tie, and slowly step it up with patterned shirt fabrics.

If your day-to-day outfits look like they belong on the runway at an Etro show, then going the opposite direction with a monochromatic color scheme may be your version of daring.

Thoughts? Would love to hear what you plan on wearing to your next holiday party.

And don’t forget to check out Spectre & Co.

Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well

Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.