How to Pick a (SOLID) Matching Outfit Part 1


In my earlier post I talked about how to make a simple matching outfit by using the two colors on your shirt. Its was hopefully a simple and easy way of building an outfit that fits you. But what if you had a shirt that just had one colour on it?

You can certainly wear the same color for your entire outfit but for those that might think that’s a little overboard I wanted to  attempt to explain how to match solid colors in a way other than the “Color Wheel” concept. The 2 major concepts that’s helped me match a solid color shirt are:

1) List of Colors That Match the Most


2) Thinking of Dark and Light Tones for Each Color

This is not a knock off of the color wheel but for me in reality when I think about what to wear I don’t imagine a wheel of color. I think about what colors I’ve worn before that have matched and whether I want to wear that color in a darker or lighter tone based on my mood and feeling. 

This post will be part 1 of 2. This first part will go over the above high level concepts of what common colors  I think match the most with other colors and how understanding dark and light tones of colours gives you more options. In my next post I’ll take the example of my outfit above and walk through it step by step using the concepts introduced here.

Disclaimer: Again, I want to emphasize that this is just my method and fashion in itself is really to express yourself however you want. So you don’t necessarily need to have everything matching or have everything balance out. Do what you want as long as it truly reflects you. 

Step 1: Common Colors That Match

Let’s start with thinking about a list of what colors have the highest chance of matching whatever solid color shirt you are wearing.

Rather than the color wheel I wanted to approach it by sharing what colors I naturally will gravitate to if I’m stuck on what to wear after I choose a solid coloured shirt. So instead of having to figure out where you are in the wheel you can just go down the list of colors that will most likely match with what you have. The below list of colors (from 1 to 7) go from colors that has the highest chance of matching to lowest.

Another thing to note here is the order of this list. The higher it is the more “basic” the color is and will most likely always match your shirt, while the lower it is the more likely it won’t “match” what you are wearing. Another way to look at this is the top ones are “safe” options while the ones below are more “unique” and “crazy” color combinations that you can wear.  Okay here goes:

1) Brown and Black

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 11.34.31 PM

  • In my opinion these two colors are the go to basic colors for a traditional guy outfit. you can pretty much match anything with these colors.
  • So let’s say you have a blue, yellow, red solid shirt. Going with a Brown pants or Black pants will most likely match.
  • These colors are great for shoe colors as well.
  • Colors you shouldn’t mix with: For Brown: pink,  for Black: Nothing I can think of…

2) Blue

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 11.27.34 PM

  • Two words: blue jeans. The reason blue jeans are so awesome is because the different blue colors go well with most things.
  • Colors you shouldn’t mix with: depends on your taste but I wouldn’t match it with pink or really bright red.

3) White and Grey

  • Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 11.51.38 PMWhite and Grey are colors that go well with most. I put this below blue only because of jeans (which in my opinion are perfect for most occasions and patterns
  • I usually wear white or grey as accent colors not as high light colors though. What I mean by this is I usually don’t wear a completely white or grey shirt. I rather have a jacket or pants that are white or grey that would compliment my shirt.

4) Red 

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 11.59.48 PM

  • Great bold color but because of its boldness sometimes its really hard to try to find a color that really compliments it
  • Colors to not match: Green (unless you want to look like Commercial Christmas), Purple, Yellow (at least not my taste)

5) Green

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 12.08.02 AM

  • One of my recent favorite colors and depending on the hue makes things nice and laid back
  • Colors to not match: Red, Purple

6) Yellow

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 3.42.48 PM

  • Not a color that I usually wear as a solid but like it when its used right in certain shirts
  • Colors to not match: Red

7) Purple 

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 3.54.47 PM

  • A color that I would like to pair more but feel there are not many colors to pair it with except black

The idea here is to use this list to make your own personal color list

The list above is my list that I’ve come up with over the years. Maybe your list will be different based on your personal love of a certain colour. If you are just starting out this list could hopefully help start you off and if you agree or disagree with certain things then you get the freedom to choose.

Step 2 Knowing Dark and Light Tones/Hues of Each Color

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 5.10.01 PM

Now that you got a list of what colors will most likely match your shirt, another concept that I try to be aware of after choosing my next colour is dark or light tones.

When I was just starting to create my own style through clothes, I realised I had this idea that blue is just blue. But in reality there are so many different types of blue (or any colour for that matter). If you are to organise them it basically comes down to the darkest colour blue to the lightest colour blue and everything in between.

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 5.11.31 PM

Take for example the above blue square. The entire square is blue but its all different types of blue from dark to light and to deep to bright.

Bringing this idea about colour is key because it opens up more possibilities and options of what to wear

This is also the reason your wallet might start getting slim buying clothes…

So think of your blue jeans. Wearing your go to bright blue jeans is great but if you pair a darker jean with the same shirt, you are going to look vastly different in terms of mood and feeling. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 6.52.02 PM

The other important thing about knowing dark and light tones in paring with your solid coloured shirt is that between your shirt and your pants you can choose what should stand out. Take my outfit below for an example. I went with a light coloured pants that makes my green shirt appear darker compared to the pants. But what if I were to wear a darker tone brown pants? How would that change the perception of my shirt?


As you start getting an understanding of this then you can actually use the entire spectrum of colours to your disposal. So from going to what dark or light colour brown should I wear you can hopefully say to yourself what dark and light COLOR (black, brown, yellow, blue, red etc.) can I wear with this shirt?

How do you choose your outfit? Do agree with my concept? See any holes? Would love for you to share!

In my next post I’ll show you how I came up with this outfit using the major color pattern concept and the dark and light tones!

All pictures taken by my wonderful friend Daniel Hoffman

One thought on “How to Pick a (SOLID) Matching Outfit Part 1

  1. What’s Taking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I
    have found It absolutely useful and it has helped me out loads.
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