Few outfits look as classic and powerful as a navy-blue suit. James Bond famously rocked this suit color, as do popular stars like K-pop idols and football players today. But if you want to pull off this classic look, you will need to know what color shirt goes with a navy blue suit.
A crisp white button-down looks most traditional and formal with a navy blue suit. Any neutral color, such as a nude or grey shade, will also set a formal tone, but light shades, such as pastels and simple patterns, can set a more modern and approachable tone. A polo, t-shirt, or sweater vest paired with a navy blue suit will set an informal style tone.
In this article, you will learn what color and pattern of shirt to wear with a navy blue suit for every occasion. You will find out what shoes and accessories look best with this classic suit. Finally, you will find tips for finding the right fit of suit and shirt for you!
One of the best things about a navy blue suit is that it matches well with many colors of shirts, like white, pastels, and even stripes. The most traditional and formal color of shirt to wear with a navy suit is a white button-down. But you can mix it up with many different colors for a more informal style!
A white shirt forms a stark contrast to the darker lines of a navy suit and offers the most traditional color choice to wear with this suit.
A white shirt makes you look put-together and highlights the slimming contours of a dark navy-blue suit jacket. A white button-down also sets off your tie, especially if you choose a formal, dark color such as blue or olive, or a bold color like red.
You should almost always wear a crisp white shirt with a super formal, three-piece navy suit. If you have a formal workplace such as a legal office, the expectation for a formal suit probably means you need to wear a white shirt with your suit.
You should also go with a white shirt if your navy suit has a fine pinstripe pattern running through it. The white shirt will echo the fine pattern in a pleasing color complement. You should not wear a striped or patterned shirt with a pinstriped navy suit–the patterns will clash instead of complimenting each other.
That said, if you plan to dress down your suit after work to head to the bar with your coworkers, you may want a more colorful shirt. When you take off your tie and unbutton your suit jacket you can quickly turn your formal navy suit into a more casual style. This works best with a striped, pastel, or light blue shirt rather than a crisp-looking white dress shirt.
A light blue button-down also looks great with a navy suit for a slightly more casual style. You do need to select the shade of blue with care, though.
The main rule of thumb to follow is that your navy suit will pair best with a lighter shade of blue to deliver a sharp contrast to the lines of the suit. Beyond that, think about what color is mixed with the blue to create the particular shade of your shirt.
When you look at the science of color, navy blue is considered a cool color. This means that it will look good with shades of blue with cool tones. Look for the “watered down” blues like a paste or a blue-and-white blend like Sky Blue or Powder Blue.
You can also look for blue shades that incorporate a tiny bit of green, which is also a cool color. These include shades like Powder Blue and Alice Blue.
Though red is a warm color, some purples, like violet, fall into the “cool” color category. This means you can also look for light purple-blue shades like Lavender Blue, Periwinkle Blue, or China Blue.
It makes sense that you can also select a green-blue blend for a shirt to match your navy suit too! These include options like Mint Green, Seafoam Green, or Hemlock Green.
Blush or pastel pink shirts look stunning with a navy blue suit. This rule holds true for both men and women–the days when only girls could wear pink have disappeared into the archaic past!
Why does pink match so well with navy blue? Unlike pairing blue with blue, as you saw in the previous section, pink offers an “opposites attract” style when paired with navy blue–otherwise known as a complementary color. The warm undertones of red in any shade of pink form a contrast to the cool, dark blue in the navy suit.
The blue keeps the pink from looking too whimsical while the pink warms up the sober blue hue.
This concept plays out quite often in both fashion and home decor–if you pick two colors from opposite sides of the color wheel, they will usually complement each other. The only caveat is that you often want to pick one color to use as the dominant shade and the other as a highlight or contrast. In this case, your blue suit takes up much more real estate than the pink shirt, making navy the dominant shade and pink the highlight color in your outfit.
Stripes and Patterns
A striped or patterned button-down can look great with a navy suit for a casual, upbeat, or more personalized style. The main guideline when picking a patterned shirt to wear with a suit is to consider what style the pattern imparts.
- The more obvious a pattern is, the less formal the shirt is. Solid shirts look more formal than any patterned shirt, especially solid white shirts. So, choose a patterned button-down to wear with your navy suit only for a less formal workplace or an event like a church service or date.
- In general, fine, delicate patterns like a white pinstripe, white checks, or small white polka dots in an evenly spaced pattern will pair well with a navy suit and maintain a more formal appearance.
- Wide stripes or big patterns like florals or plaids often look too busy to pair well with the dark color of a navy suit. Besides overwhelming the suit, these busy patterns look extremely informal and would not do well in most office settings. Even a medium-size pattern such as a Tattersall check or a gingham print looks quite informal in a dress shirt.
- The exception here is that you can pick a tie with wide stripes, especially if the tie contains a stripe of navy that matches your suit.
- Vertical stripes in your dress shirt can make you look thinner. They draw the eye up and down instead of side to side. You may want to consider a pale blue shirt with fine white stripes to pair with your navy suit.
Pastels often pair well with a navy blue suit for a cheerful, less formal style. Technically known as tints rather than colors or hues, a pastel is any color mixed with a lot of white to make a pale shade. Because of the amount of white added to any pastel tint, it often appears soft and washed out rather than bold or saturated.
This gentle tint makes a great contrast to the bold, rich color of a navy blue suit! Because of their association with springtime, the Easter season, and young children, pastels often bring a connotation of happiness and peace with them, too.
Colors like Baby Blue, any creamy shade of mint, and pale pinks like the popular Millenial Pink all make great pastel choices for a button-down or polo to wear with a navy suit.
Neutral tones such as beige and grey can also offer an understated complement to a navy blue suit. A neutral shade is a muted, pale color with undertones of a richer color. For example, beige has a neutral, pale appearance but contains elements of brown and pink, two richer colors.
Neutral tones work great to highlight any bolder color in your outfit. This makes a neutral shirt a great way to highlight the blue in your navy suit. Instead of drawing attention to your shirt as you would with a more vivid color, you will use the neutral color as a foil to draw attention to the sharp lines of your suit.
Neutral tones in a solid color can also look more formal than other colors. A pale grey shirt with a navy suit and a back tie will look quite formal, as will a cream-colored button-down with a navy suit.
The most popular neutral tones include beige, taupe, grey, cream, and white.
Even though they have a much bolder and more saturated appearance, brown and black also fall into the “neutral” category in some cases simply because they match almost everything.
A grey shirt can look good with a navy blue suit if you select the right shade of grey. The tricky part of pairing grey and navy is that grey is a paler shade of black, and black and navy typically do not look good next to each other (with a few notable exceptions).
This means that lighter grey with a lot of white or even a tint of blue will look much better with a navy suit than a darker grey with more black in it. Pale greys have a very cool tone, presenting a cool, calm overall appearance when paired with navy blue.
Popular shades of pale grey that would look good with navy blue include Agreeable Grey, Classic French Grey, and Earl Grey.
A navy blue suit looks best with pale, cool shades of purple such as lavender. Purple and blue lie beside each other in the color wheel, so you can often pair various shades of blues and purples with great success.
That said, navy blue has a rich, jewel-like tone. Pairing it with another bold, jewel-like tone, such as aubergine purple, could clash, meaning that someone looking at you would have a hard time picking out which color should have the dominant impression in the outfit. Plus, deeper purples often contain heavier undertones of red, a very warm color.
Using a paler purple allows you to set off the line of the navy blue suit and provide a contrast instead of a clash.
When you pick a purple shirt to wear with your navy blue suit, look for shades like Lavender, Lilac, or Mauve.
You can wear a yellow shirt with a navy blue suit if you want to make a bold fashion statement. Yellow has a rich, warm hue that offers a bold contrast to the cool, bold tone of navy blue. This makes it an unusual but energizing shirt color to pair with a navy suit.
For example, a shade of yellow like Lemon or Royal Yellow has an intense, energetic tone that will stand out in vivid contrast to the dark, cool navy blue.
If you don’t feel confident wearing a super warm color that will draw a lot of attention to your dress shirt, you can always try a pastel yellow instead. A pale, washed-out yellow with a lot of white in it will highlight the navy blue instead of drawing attention away from it.
As you pick the best shirt to wear with your navy blue suit, you should consider several stylistic elements, such as the fit and the formality of the shirt, besides the color.
Find Your Fit
Picking the right fit can pair your shirt perfectly with your navy suit. The fit describes how the shape of the shirt fits the shape of your torso. Most dress shirt brands will offer every shirt they sell in a variety of fits.
To make the most of the contrast between your shirt color and your navy blue suit, try to find a shirt and suit cut that outlines the shape of your body while still allowing you to move freely.
If you want to make a fashion-forward color choice for your shirt, such as picking a pink or bright yellow shirt, you should match it with a more modern shirt cut, such as a tailored, slim-fit, or fitted cut. This shirt style nips in at the waist, highlighting the shape of your chest and shoulders.
If you feel comfortable wearing a less baggy cut, avoid a classic or regular-fit dress shirt to pair with your navy suit. This boxy shirt style often ends up poofing out around the waistband of your navy pants because it contains more fabric than most modern styles.
Each color or pattern you select for a shirt to wear with a navy blue suit will come with varying levels of formality.
This does depend somewhat on the accessories you wear with your outfit, like a belt, shoes, and tie. You can also easily later the formality of your suit by unbuttoning the top button of the shirt and leaving your suit jacket open instead of buttoning it at the waist.
That said, in general, you can gauge the formality of a shirt by its color.
- White shirts look most formal with a navy blue suit.
- Solid neutral tones, like grey, beige, or cream, also present quite a formal overall appearance with a suit. You can highlight this formality by picking a navy tie, too.
- A pale blue shirt with or without an unobtrusive pattern, such as white pinstripes, also looks crisp and more formal than most colored shirts.
- Solid contrasting colors, like a warm yellow, start toward a bold fashion choice or a less formal outfit.
- Pastels have a cheerful, casual air when paired with a navy suit.
- Any print or pattern besides a simple, narrow white pinstripe in a shirt will present a more informal style. This holds true even if you pick a more formal, such as neutral or pale blue.
- Bold, busy patterns look the most informal. If you wear a shirt with a madras or windowpane plaid design, you should probably leave your suit jacket at home and go for a laid-back vibe with our colorful shirt and navy blue pants.
You should pick a tie to pair with your navy suit based on the occasion. Solid-colored ties in a neutral color will look more sober and formal than a colorful tie or a tie with an obvious design worked into the fabric.
- For a wedding, job interview, or super-important work meeting, go with a solid grey or solid navy tie (but make sure the navy exactly matches your suit!).
- For a wedding or formal, special occasion, you often want a tie that looks good but does not draw too much attention to you, such as a silver or brown tie over a white shirt. Make sure you add fancy elements like a metallic tie clip, too!
- When you pair a more casual shirt color with your navy suit, your tie needs to complement both colors. To avoid clashing colors, you may want to pick a neutral-toned tie in this case.
- If you have a pattern in your dress shirt, look for a solid-colored tie, so the patterns do not overwhelm each other.
For a Wedding
A navy suit is a great choice to wear to a wedding because you can easily dress it up or down depending on the formality of the event. Check out a few shirt and tie pairings to wear as a guest at a wedding here:
- Wear a formal white dress shirt with your navy suit, and add a pink or blush-colored tie for a celebratory but elegant note.
- For another formal navy suit outfit to wear at a wedding, try a monochrome look with a matching navy suit, shirt, and tie! Highlight this bold choice with accents like a silver tie clip.
- For an afternoon or less formal wedding, try a pastel-colored dress shirt with a striped or patterned tie.
- For an outdoor wedding, you may want to try a patterned or printed shirt paired with a solid-colored tie. A neutral color for the tie often works well, as it needs to match both the navy suit and the color of the shirt.
Types of Shirts
In some circumstances, you can mix up your style by wearing a different type of shirt with your navy suit. A button-down dress shirt is always the best choice for a formal occasion, but a polo shirt, breton shirt, or even a nice t-shirt can work well for less formal occasions!
A pastel or neutral shade polo shirt will look great with a navy suit for a casual day at the office or an outdoor work event. Try pairing this outfit with loafers instead of polished dress shoes to complete the style.
A breton shirt with its distinctive stripes also sets a laid-back style tone. Make sure the navy stripes in your shirt match your jacket, though, or you might have clashing colors!
If you work in a modern office where people feel comfortable wearing sneakers with a suit, try wearing a solid-colored, ironed t-shirt with your navy suit. Wear casual footwear like sneakers to sell your style!
Complement Vs Contrast
When you pick a color for the shirt and tie you plan to wear with a navy suit, you should focus on colors that either complement or contrast the navy blue.
A complementary color to navy blue means any color on the opposite side of the color wheel. Remember that picking a warm, complementary color like red or orange as a shirt to wear with a blue suit will usually look less formal than picking a cool or neutral tone for your shirt.
This is confusing because picking two opposite colors does mean forming a contrast between them!
But technically, a contrasting color has a broader definition, meaning any color with a different hue, tint, or shade than navy blue. This means that really, any color other than navy blue will form a contrast to your suit!
One final style tip to help you pick the best shirt to wear with your navy blue suit is to consider what colors work best with your complexion.
- Primary or complementary colors to navy blue may look good on you if you have olive, bronze, or tanned skin.
- If you have a darker skin tone, shirts in colors like white, pastels, and jewel tones will look great with your navy suit.
- If you have very pale skin, avoid wearing a white shirt unless you need to for a super formal occasion. Instead, pair pale blue or neutral-colored shirts with your navy suit.
One of the best things about a navy blue suit is that it pairs well with most colors, but you should avoid a few key shades like black, olive, and hunter green in most situations.
Can you ever wear black with navy? Black and navy both have an intense, rich color that can make them seem to clash with each other. You can wear black shoes with a navy suit, but avoid wearing a black shirt.
Other dusty, dark colors like olive or hunter green also don’t pair as well with navy. There is no fashion rule dictating that you can’t wear these dull greens with a navy suit, but they will not provide that crisp contrast to the suit you would get from a pastel or white shirt.
The best shoes to wear with a navy suit for most formal occasions are simple black dress shoes. For less formal occasions, you can wear brown loafers or even sneakers or boat shoes with your suit.
If you have navy-colored leather dress shoes that closely match your suit, you can also safely wear blue-on-blue footwear.
Finally, polished brown leather, like a cognac-colored shade, will also look good with a navy suit for any occasion.
You can wear many different shirt colors with a navy suit. A white or pale blue shirt will usually look most formal and traditional, and a solid neutral-colored shirt like grey or beige will look sober and somewhat formal. For a more informal style, try wearing a pastel, pink, yellow, or patterned shirt with your navy suit.
As you pick a shirt to wear with a navy suit, you also want to consider other style elements like the color of your tie, the cut of the shirt, and the tone of your own complexion.
What color of shirt do you like to pair with a navy suit? Leave a comment below to let us know!