If you had to choose the most important colors to form the basis of a tailored wardrobe, they would be blue, particularly navy blue, followed closely by gray. These hues not only play well with various other shades but also work beautifully with one another, thus making them the most versatile color pairing in menswear.
The combination is always stylish while remaining conservative and perfect for the office. In this article, the first of a series of classic color combinations, we take a look at the different ways to pair blue and gray.
How to Wear Blue and Gray
Blue and Gray with a Suit and Tie
The easiest way to coordinate blue and gray is to match the two in a suit and tie combination. It’s commonly said that when a man first ventures into the world of tailored clothing–or into the working world that demands such a dress code–he should begin with a navy blue suit. Using a gray tie with this navy suit is a surefire way to earn style points.
The second suit a man should own when starting a business wardrobe is a gray one, but here the recommendations vary between a mid-gray and a charcoal. In either case, you simply take the opposite approach as your first suit and coordinate with a blue tie. The entire range of gray presents a neutral backdrop for any mid – to navy blue tie to work. And, the fact that both blue and gray are cool colors ensures they will pair naturally. Even if your gray suit contains warmer brown tones, you’ll have no issues because blue also combines perfectly with brown.
Avoid Strong Contrast
Although pairing a gray tie with a blue suit and vice versa is nearly foolproof, there are some ways for you to make the most of this combination. For one thing, avoid too strong a contrast between the two colors, which is the general rule for any color coordination. So, if your suit is dark gray, avoid a really pale blue.
Add Pattern and Texture
Beyond avoiding sharp contrast, try adding complexity and interest to your blue and gray combinations by introducing textures and patterns. Sure, you can start simply with a white shirt, solid tie, and a plain worsted wool suit, but this gets boring fast. An easy way to add a pattern while remaining classic is to use a gray glen check tie in silk (or wool for winter) with a navy suit. For a gray suit, get a navy grenadine tie in either a large or fine weave (garza grossa or garza fina) to inject texture. In the reverse scenario, pick up a silver grenadine for a blue suit.
Use Items with Both Colors Together
The most sophisticated method to combine gray and blue with a suit and tie, however, is to choose items that contain both colors together. For example, you can wear a navy suit with a gray windowpane pattern. By definition, Prince of Wales suiting fabric differs from a glen check because it contains an overcheck in an additional color, and a common version of this is a gray base pattern with the addition of a blue overcheck, giving you both in one shot.
Printed silk ties with blue and gray geometric patterns or knit ties with both colors in them are likewise excellent options. I especially like the versatility of striped ties with either a repp pattern or large block stripes for this purpose. If you get a tie with stripes of both colors you can wear them easily with either gray or blue suits.
Gray and Blue with Odd Combinations
Multiple Layers of Blue and Gray
Gray and Blue Accessories
Blue and Gray Shoes and Socks
Those who are truly committed and a bit daring can try to locate spectator shoes that combine both navy and gray. A two-tone shoe is surprisingly versatile because it can accompany tailoring of either color.
Blue and Gray for Casual Wear
Though the Gentleman’s Gazette focuses on classic style, we’d be remiss not to mention the most popular article of casual clothing and probably the most popular blue fabric worn throughout the world–denim. We don’t specifically think of wearing gray with denim, but maybe we should take this page out of the classic menswear book and apply it to casual wear too. Blue jeans can easily be paired with a gray sports coat, provided the jeans are not overly distressed and the jacket casual enough, like something in an unstructured cotton or with sufficient texture.
Blue denim shirts have recently become a popular transitional garment, worn instead of dressier shirts with sports coats. Add a navy jacket, gray pants, and the aforementioned blue loafers, and you have a fantastic outfit.
There’s a reason why blue and gray are the base pairing in the DNA of classic men’s style, the primary colors to draw upon. Those who are new to color coordination use them as a means of creating fundamentally sound clothing combinations with minimal anxiety, while those who are stylistically advanced return to the pairing as a constant even as they experiment. How have you used shades of gray and blue? What are your favorite combinations using these two colors? Tell us in the comments below.