We have all been through this - finding a suitable tie to go with the shirt that one is wearing. And then wearing the wrong one anyway!
If you are anything like this, here are four pointers to help you match ties with shirts easily:
1) Solid Shirts
Shirts in solid color are perhaps the easiest to pair with ties - this combination works with ties that are plain or patterned.
Matching solid ties with solid shirts is the safest option. With a plain shirt, you can chose a tie in the same color family (say, a purple tie on a light-blue shirt, or a red tie on a pink shirt). Choosing contrasting colors is also equally easy - red tie on a light blue shirt, or a blue tie on a pink shirt.
If you are feeling more confident, try matching ties and shirts in the same solid colors (but with different fabric textures).
Solid shirts go equally well with ties of almost all patterns - stripes, checks, dotted, and even paisleys. When choosing a patterned tie, just take care that the accents in the patterns match the color of the shirt - this will highlight the shirt very well.
(Now you know why a white shirt is your best friend - it works with almost any tie you can throw at it! A light-blue shirt is the next best thing.)
2) Striped Shirts
Matching ties to striped shirts is also simple - though not as easy as solid shirts.
When selecting a solid tie, you can well treat the shirt as a solid or a plain-colored shirt - and make your choice accordingly. Mind the stripe pattern though - with fine pinstriped shirts, the base color should be considered; with wider stripes, you can chose a tie based on any underlying color.
When treading into the striped tie-on-striped shirt territory, we just need a little extra care. And the trick here is - the stripes on the tie should be wider and thicker than that of the shirt. A thin-striped tie will simply disappear on a wide-striped shirt.
In case of pencil striped shirts, you also get the choice of pretty much every pattern that can work with a solid shirt. For thicker stripes, the choice of checkered ties should be avoided.
3) Checked Shirts
Things start getting interesting when matching ties with checkered shirts.
As with every other shirt variety, checkered shirts are easiest matched with solid ties - whether the check grids are small or large. When matching a solid tie, choose to match the color that dominates on the checks.
When matching a striped tie to check shirts, look at ties with stripes wider than the grids of the shirt check.
Matching check ties with checked shirts is a bit tricky, but you can succeed if you choose ties with wider checks than shirts, and both have a common color theme. For shirts with larger checks, ties with very small checks can also work well.
Patterned ties can work well with check shirts, especially when the tie pattern is bolder than the checks. For example, a tie with thick polka dots can work well with a gingham check shirt.
4) With a Suit
When dressing in a suit, there is a classical combination of everything solid that cannot really go wrong - provided the colors are carefully chosen.
Mixing patterns will take some effort, however.
The best way to achieve a perfect look would be to choose at least one of the three - suit, shirt or tie - in solid. So, if you are wearing a gray pinstriped suit with a blue and red wide-striped tie, you can choose a light-blue shirt to complete the ensemble.