In the world of classic menswear and fashion, understanding color and color combination is one of the most fundamental skills that one can have in their repertoire; and indeed, of all the dynamic duos that you can rely on, few are as timeless and as versatile as blue and gray.
Why Blue and Gray Is a Powerful Combination
On their own, both blue and gray are versatile colors that come in countless shades. Either can pair with most other colors, especially when you are familiar with color theory and how to maximize their positive points, such as gray’s universality due to its neutral tone and blue’s naturally pleasant appearance, perhaps because of its connection to the blue of the sky.
These properties also benefit the blue and gray tones themselves because accenting blue and gray with bolder, more vibrant colors can help them pop.
When paired together, however, blue and gray as an outfit are hard to beat, as this brings together naturally cool and neutral tones that are classic menswear staples. Employing this combination makes your life much easier because they can pair well together without the worry of clashing. Both colors are also universally flattering and are suitable for a wide variety of skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors, although finding the correct shade will offer superior results.
Where Should You Wear Blue and Gray
As staples of classic menswear and because of their universality and neutrality, blue and gray tend to be the appropriate and accessible choices for a large portion of more formal day attire day dress codes. From business-formal and business casual to smart casual and casual settings, among others, there are few places and occasions where blue and gray wouldn’t be a safe choice for your outfit.
Accounting for Formality when Wearing Blue and Gray
To achieve the most memorable outfits that have the best possible effect, alter how you wear your blue and gray garments and accessories according to the formality of the occasion.
BLUE & GRAY
At The Office
When you’re expecting an important board meeting or interview, consider a gray flannel suit paired with a pale blue dress shirt, and you have yourself a simple outfit suitable for the workplace, where business casual attire is not only appreciated but expected.
What about at
While it’s true that a black suit is a conventional choice for such a solemn event, in this day and age, a charcoal gray suit paired with a white dress shirt and a navy blue tie can be acceptable substitutes that are more versatile and can be worn at events other than funerals.
When You Shouldn’t Wear Blue and Gray
Because it is so versatile and popular, it is easier to list settings where you shouldn’t wear blue and gray.
Formal Evening Occasions
Blue and gray should also be avoided for the most formal evening occasions. No component of a proper White Tie ensemble should be gray and blue could be introduced only if you are wearing a blue boutonniere. A similar situation exists for the most formal iterations of Black Tie, excepting midnight blue, which, in this circumstance, is functionally similar to black.
For more casual iterations of Black Tie, such as Creative or Festive Black Tie, you could potentially inject blue and gray under the correct circumstances. Gray and blue could appear in certain discreet accessories, including socks and pocket squares.
Particular or Unique Dress Codes
While rare, there may be circumstances when a requested dress code precludes this color combination, such as weddings where a theme has to be adhered to. If you are asked to wear pink for a charity event or red to fit in with the groomsmen at a bachelor party, obviously, follow these requests.
Blue and Gray Combination FAQs
Should you pair blue and gray?
Yes, blue and gray ensembles are classic menswear staples, and they can easily pair well together without worrying about clashing. They’re universally flattering and are a suitable choice for anyone in almost any situation.
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.
Is the blue and gray combination classic?
Blue and gray are the base pairing in the DNA of classic men’s style, the primary colors to draw upon. They’re staples of classic menswear in part due to their universality and neutrality and, thus, tend to be the appropriate and accessible choices for a large portion of the formality spectrum.
Where is blue and gray the best combination to wear?
From business-formal to business-casual and from smart-casual and casual settings, among others. There are few places and occasions where blue and gray wouldn’t be a safe but strong choice for your outfit.
From an office meeting to Sunday brunch–and, yes, even weddings and funerals with some stipulation–indeed, it’s easier to list down settings where you couldn’t wear blue and gray, which are White Tie and Black Tie events.
What season is best for a blue and gray combination?
Blue and gray, separately, can be used in conjunction with other colors all year round, although as a pair, they work best during the spring and winter times. Lighter, cooler shades embody the transitional nature of the former; meanwhile, deep neutrals and bold jewel tones live in the coolness of the latter.
How to wear blue and gray?
The easiest way to coordinate blue and gray is to match the two in a suit and tie combination. These are fundamental and versatile suit choices for any man venturing into the world of tailored clothing. Once there, add style to your outfit by utilizing patterns and textures, which add complexity and interest. Avoid strong contrast while styling, but don’t be afraid to choose items with both colors.
Can you wear blue and gray for casual wear?
Denim is the most popular blue fabric worn throughout the world. Blue jeans can easily be paired with a gray sports coat, provided the jeans are not overly distressed and the jacket is casual enough, something with unstructured cotton or sufficient texture.
What are good choices for blue and gray accessories?
Accessories, including gloves, hats, and scarves, are another great way to use the two colors. With a scarf, you could get a double-sided version, like a dark blue and gray one in alpaca from Fort Belvedere.
An overlooked accessory that’s especially great for warmer weather is a boutonniere. You can pop a realistic silk blue cornflower boutonniere into the lapel buttonhole of your gray suit jacket to bring on the spring.
Can you wear blue or gray shoes in classic menswear?
Although blue and gray are usually a conservative combination, one of the boldest things you can do for your overall outfit is to wear these colors as footwear. Dark navy Oxfords are the best choice with a suit since they resemble a standard black business shoe with a hint of added color, but those with dandy impulses could go with brighter blues.
Solid gray shoes appropriate for tailored clothing are exceedingly rare. Thus, they’re awkward for navy trousers due to the high contrast they create, and wearing them with gray could create too much uniformity in your outfit.
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 a navy suit is a surefire way to earn style points.
What should your first suit color be?
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 blue and gray are cool colors ensures they pair naturally. Even if your gray suit contains warmer brown tones, you’ll have no issues because blue also combines perfectly with brown.
How to Pair Brown and Blue
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.
Grenadine Silk Tie in Navy Blue
Made from the finest silks and wool sourced from Italy and England, this tie is a fantastic value that will help your entire wardrobe go further. We are also one of the few retailers to offer our 3-fold neckties in three different sizes, either tipped or untipped, so you can find the necktie that works perfectly with your height and preferred trouser rise.
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. Raphael especially likes 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
The same techniques mentioned above can be used when wearing sports coat and trouser combinations, though some men may be put off by the perceived difficulties of coordinating an additional article of clothing: pants in a different shade. If you begin with blue and gray, this is actually a piece of cake. Like the navy suit, the navy blazer is a staple, foundational item of menswear. Technically, a solid blazer has to be blue, so begin there and add gray pants.
Elevated with Accessories
You may have heard that the classic navy jacket and gray trousers will make you look like a security guard, but if you choose an appropriate fit and quality materials, that simply won’t happen. Stay away from cheap shoes, polyester fabric, and baggy fits, and you’ll be fine. Add a pocket square to the outfit, even a simple white linen one, and there’s no way your outfit will be mistaken for a uniform. Wearing a striped shirt or tie that isn’t plain, such as one in a contrasting color or has patterns, or the aforementioned navy or silver grenadine, will elevate the look as well.
The opposite move–a gray sports coat with navy trousers–is rarer, maybe because it is generally more difficult to pull off a lighter jacket with darker pants. However, there’s no reason to be dissuaded, as long as your blue pants don’t look like the bottom half of a suit. Here, a pattern can be your friend, and using a gray sports coat that contains a pattern, again the classic Glen check or Prince of Wales, will enhance your chances of success.
Grids, Plaids, and Windowpanes: Checked Patterns in Menswear
Multiple Layers of Blue and Gray
Going beyond the basics, you can use the principles in our Layering 101 Guide to increase the sophistication of your gray and blue combinations. When we talk about layering, we immediately think of knitwear and overcoats for colder weather.
These provide great opportunities to add either alternating layers of blue and gray hues–like a navy tie, gray sweater vest, and navy jacket–or a swath of the same color–like a navy blue tie, cardigan, and pants under a gray flannel sports coat. You can do the same with a gray or blue overcoat, too: decide whether you want to duplicate the underlying color or contrast it, then get creative.
Why did men stop wearing long overcoats?
How to Layer Blue and Gray
We’ve discussed how to layer clothes before, and all the fundamentals presented in that tutorial can, of course, also be applied to layering blue and gray outfits specifically. But don’t worry; we’ll go into more detail here.
Layering blues with cooler shades of gray, especially if both colors are in darker tones, can give off a nearly monochromatic look, which is one of the easiest ways to layer, if you are not too familiar with the technique. This can work especially well for the winter season, although one doesn’t have to stick to monochromatic looks when working with blue and gray.
LAYERING BLUE & GRAY
Play On Contrast
Contrast is an important skill to learn in layering, and even with colors as neutral as blue and gray, you can still apply some contrast to your looks.
One way to achieve this is by using warmer shades of gray paired with your blue. But another more interesting way is by alternating between solids and patterns between layers. As mentioned earlier, the use of patterns and texture adds complexity to your outfits without worrying about a jarring amount of strong contrast.
In the case of something like a three-piece suit, you could go with a patterned white dress shirt, solid navy tie, and a patterned gray waistcoat and jacket. The opposite of this works just as well. Keep in mind that alternating between solids and patterns is more a guideline than a steadfast rule and that, with practice, you could be able to use patterns on patterns.
Another easy way to layer blue and gray outfits is by bridging the two colors between layers. For example, if you have a blue tie and a gray jacket, you can bridge these two garments together with a pattern that contains both blue and gray in either a Glen check or plaid. This creates a sense of harmony in your outfit that transitions between the two garments.
Blue and Gray for Different Seasons
Blue and gray, separately, can be used in conjunction with other colors all year round, although as a pair, they work best during the spring and winter.
Light, almost Gainsboro grey suits are a popular choice for spring in particular, especially when paired with a light blue shirt and dark blue accessories for contrast. Outfits like these embody the transitional nature of spring from the cooler, darker winter to the warmer, brighter summer by combining brighter tints and colorful tones.
Speaking of winter, navy blues with charcoal grays are perfect for late winter when you’ve past all the warmth of autumn. Deep neutrals and bold jewel tones live in the coolness of winter, especially when paired with the subduing nature of gray. Take, for example, as previously mentioned, a navy blue jacket with an odd, charcoal gray suit paired with a tie in ruby red or in a deep purple.
Learn to savor the seasons, Italian-style!
Gray and Blue Accessories
Accessories, including gloves, hats, and scarves, are another great way to use these two colors, and, again, you have two broad options. If you have a gray coat on, you could go monochromatic and select elegant gray cashmere-lined peccary gloves to match tones. Alternatively, go with a contrast and choose a pair of bold petrol blue leather gloves in lamb nappa leather. With a scarf, you may be able to “kill two birds with one stone” by purchasing a double-sided version, like a dark blue and gray one in alpaca from Fort Belvedere, which lets you contrast or blend with a flip of the cloth.
An overlooked accessory that’s especially great for warmer weather is a boutonniere. You won’t find a gray flower, even in nature, but you can definitely pop a realistic silk blue cornflower boutonniere into the lapel buttonhole of your gray suit jacket to bring on the spring.
Find more blue and gray accessories!
Blue and Gray Shoes and Socks
Although blue and gray are usually a conservative combination, one of the boldest things you can do for your overall outfit is to wear these colors as footwear. Dark navy Oxfords are the best choice with a suit since they resemble a standard black business shoe with just a hint of added color, but they are difficult to find. Those with dandy impulses and in a less conservative environment could go with brighter blues, such as a blue whole cut Oxford or monk strap, paired with a light gray suit.
In terms of availability, your best bet for blue shoes might be navy loafers, which are most often found in suede, though polished calf leather makes for a more formal choice, perhaps with gray trousers and a sports coat. Pairing blue shoes of any sort with blue pants is trickier but possible if both colors are similar enough.
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.
Solid gray shoes appropriate for tailored clothing are exceedingly rare and tend to be lighter gray monk straps or derbies. Thus, they’re awkward for navy trousers due to the high contrast they create, and wearing them with gray could create too much uniformity in your outfit. However, you could always experiment if you find a pair. Something with two tones of gray or just dark gray would be more useful.
Should you wear flashy shoes?
If you aren’t ready to make the leap to blue or gray shoes, a unique and inexpensive option that will also brighten things up is shoelaces in one of these classic colors. For around $10, you can put gray laces on black oxfords to be worn with a grey suit or blue laces on brown shoes with a navy suit.
Socks are also a terrific option to coordinate blue and gray. As a rule, begin with the principle of matching socks to your pants, not your shoes. You can show some panache by wearing socks that contain the complementary color to your pants (for example, blue socks with gray trousers ) or, better yet, socks that contain both colors, like a light blue and light gray shadow stripe.
Learn to pair any socks, shoes, and trousers!
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 is casual enough, something with 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.
Master casual attire in Classic Style
In conclusion, 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.
Is blue and gray something you wear or would wear? Let us know how you utilize this classic color combination in the comments!
Today, I’m trying to exemplify many of the concepts we discussed. Most of my outfit elements have blue and gray in them; the largest of these would be my blue jacket and gray trousers. The jacket is a bit lighter than a standard navy, probably in something more like a medium to even a royal blue. It’s plain in color to ground the trousers, which have a bit more texture in their weave. As mentioned previously, my shirt features a micro check pattern in light blue and dark gray, perhaps even almost black, but everything is working harmoniously within the color pairing
My bow tie is one of our jacquard weave silk models from the Fort Belvedere shop in a color that we call battleship gray, and it has blue diamond accents. Also from Fort Belvedere are my Veronica persica boutonniere in light blue and my white linen pocket square, which features a blue contrasting X-stitch.
My socks are from Fort Belvedere, too; they’re gray and feature a contrasting light blue shadow stripe, and my shoes are gray suede derbies from Heinrich Dinkelacker. As a bonus today, my suspenders are also in blue, even though they wouldn’t normally be seen.