I often get emails from readers asking for style advice, which I’m only too happy to give. When I have something useful to say, of course. Recently, reader Matt and I had a back and forth about accessorising a business wardrobe and I felt our conversation would be helpful for more people to read. Here is a truncated version:
Matt’s initial question
For business, I typically wear medium grey suits with black oxfords four days a week. While staying somewhat reserved, how can I add colour to my socks, moving beyond the corresponding grey of the trousers?
As you may know, I’m not a fan of “fun” socks. Personally, I like to enjoy everything I’m wearing. I also believe in understated elegance. I also don’t believe too much in the rule that your socks should be the same colour as your trousers or shoes. I don’t like a lot of contrast either, but as long as there’s a tonal balance, you’re fine.
I would recommend dark, solid socks to go with grey trousers and black shoes. You can never go wrong with navy which, while dark, has more depth than black. I’m also a big fan of dark burgundy and dark (forest) green. In addition, I have a few subtly striped socks (navy with dark burgundy or mid-blue stripes) that look classic and elegant.
This subtle kind of variation in dark blue socks (a mid-blue stripe) I believe remains elegant while introducing a bit of dash.
How do I pick my tie? Should the colour of my tie correspond with my socks? For business I usually wear a white forward point dress shirt and a white linen pocket square. So, I’m assuming I would need to coordinate with the tie. Or is that incorrect?
Currently, I have a handful of grenadine and knit ties, all solids (navy, burgundy, rich purple, forest green, etc). I’m certainly open to adding some variety in my neckwear. Nothing to fashion-forward, but certainly stylish while being appropriate for business.
In terms of coordination, this is where the rubber really hits the road. I would never recommend matching your socks and tie. Too on the nose (trust me, I’ve tried). Instead, things should harmonise with each other. For instance, socks in a deep green worn with a tie in a similar dark shade of blue or burgundy would be very elegant. You can even pick up colours in each, like burgundy socks with a blue and burgundy striped tie.
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Grenadines and knit ties are fantastic for adding texture to an outfit. I’ve recently started expanding into rep striped ties from E.G. Cappelli, while I like the look of thesefromShibumi. I think they are all classic, elegant and simple enough to not get too much attention.