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Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


Work dress codes and social etiquette in Nigeria are still pretty much standardised. Only in oil and gas companies based here in Port Harcourt, new-age startups and in the creative industries where casual Friday is from Monday to Friday, will you observe a bit of freedom on work clothe choices. On the other hand, in one of the fastest growing industries in the country, bankers are obligated to adorn a shirt and tie (apart from Fridays). The most common shirt colours worn by bankers happen to be the most popular dress shirt colours in the world: white, sky blue and light pink.

As with most organisations, each bank will give you a manifesto of what’s appropriate and what’s not, often leaving little room for imagination. One example is UBA – a bank where you’ll find the bankers almost always in a white shirt and a red-ish tie. The exception includes banks such as Stanbic IBTC, 1st Bank of Nigeria and Standard Chartered where you’re allowed more room to adorn yourself professionally in what you see fit.

The bright side of working in a restricted dress code environment is that, firstly, you don’t have to worry too much about what to wear the next day and secondly, the tie rules are a bit relaxed leaving room for a personal touch of creativity and flair.

This post will guide you on how to take advantage of the relaxed tie rules by mixing and matching the three most common shirt colours with complementing ties.

Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide

Charles Tyrwhitt


White Shirts

When it comes to white shirts, I’ll keep saying you can’t have enough of them; they offer maximum versatility in terms of what colours or patterns they go with. It doesn’t matter if you opt for a foulard, geometric or paisley tie, you can combine almost any tie with a white shirt. White shirts are more commonly worn for business in the US, because they are always and everywhere smarter than any other colour. I should add that the most subtle of ties will still pop on a crisp white shirt, either way, whatever tie you choose for this shirt, ensure it comes with some character.

Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


Sky Blue Shirts

Blue is the most popular colour for men to wear; with a sky blue shirt, you get the opportunity to be more creative as you colour match. In the UK, blue shirts are more accepted for business compared to the US, but then the English have a tradition of sportier shirts against a background of simple ties and suits. Colours sky blue shirts go with:

  • A burnt orange tie with your sky blue shirt – orange is a complementary colour to light blue.
  • Darker blue or navy ties that are plain, patterned or textured will go well with this shirt colour.
  • Burgundy or oxblood ties look really nice with light blue shirts. The same applies to red ties.
  • A dark forest green tie always makes a stylish statement with a sky blue shirt.
  • Mustard blended with navy on the tie + sky blue shirt is classy.
  • Purple or violet ties can be used on sky blue shirts.
  • Brown and blue is one of my favourite colour combinations. Although not so formal, a dark brown tie is a pleasant combination with sky blue.

Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


Pale Pink Shirts

Pink shirts, as they say, are for real men. With a light pink shirt, just as with a sky blue shirt, your options aren’t as many compared to a white shirt. Yet again, it allows you to be more creative with your combinations. From a warm salmon pink to an icy pink or raspberry, choose your pink carefully. Tie colours it goes with include:

  • Dark shades of Violet or Purple go very well with a light pink shirt.
  • Dark blue is a contrasting colour to pink hence a navy tie and a light pink shirt is magic.
  • As with sky blue, dark forest green works well with a light pink shirt because it’s complementary.
  • A dark red, oxblood or burgundy tie and a light pink shirt go hand in hand.
  • Grey and pinks have always had a blissful union. Grey tie + light pink shirt.

Combining Shirts and Ties: A Bankers Guide


It’s important to note that the colour of the tie doesn’t have to be single. For instance, when I mention the combinations of a dark forest green tie with a light blue shirt, the tie doesn’t have to be solely forest green. It could be a combination of forest green and white polka dots, as long as forest green is dominant.

Experiment and practice until you master the art of shirt and tie combinations while abiding to the companies dress code policy. In the visual world we live in, intelligently contrasting or matching shirts and ties can make even the dullest combinations a bit more interesting – let your tie do the talking. One rule to keep in mind for formal dressing is that your tie should always be a couple of shades darker than the shirt.

If you get the combinations right, you’ll not only be regarded as the best dressed gent in your branch, you’ll also visually stimulate customers walking through the door. Employee of the year awaits you fresh sqollar.

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