Grey Suit with Red Shirt? Why Not! Tips on Styling the Look
We’ve said it before, and we’ll happily say it again- there are few suits a man can own that are as practical, versatile, and seamless in almost any situation as the grey suit. From summer-perfect breezy light greys to the somber-yet-elegant charcoal of the classic business suit, it’s a color that can go anywhere and do anything. With such a lot to choose from, it’s hard to imagine what could make a grey suit better. Enter red, stage left, and with plenty of style! As we enter an era where bold shirts are no longer forbidden in even the most formal of circumstances, it’s hard to go wrong with this classic color pair. Today the Oliver Wicks team will walk you through everything you need to know about styling a red shirt, and grey suit combination with ease- and ensure you look fantastic wearing it, too.
Grey suits simply can’t be beaten. Pairing well with any complexion, they manage to stay effortlessly elegant in the most varied of circumstances. From a beach wedding to the boardroom, it’s a classic color that walks the perfect line between blending in and standing out. From young to old and across a variety of physiques, grey has been a masculine go-to for centuries.
And talking about masculinity, what’s not to love about red? From a bold vintage burgundy to a dusty desert red, it’s a color that projects confidence. Pair the two up, and you have a near-perfect combination. A cool canvas with a bright pop to add flair and bold energy.
As always, the mood you project comes down to how you build your look, not the individual pieces in it. Here are some tips and tricks for styling a red shirt with a grey suit.
Without a doubt, bold shirt looks are in. But if you’re striving for sartorial elegance over brash fashionability, it’s worth remembering that dark shirts and pale suits carry a costumey, inelegant vibe that's difficult to pull off well. Can it be done? Sure, but it can go wrong very easily, and you can quickly start making yourself look like a mob caricature. As a rule of thumb for this look, it’s best to keep your shirt paler than the suit. And while a maroon suit can have a place in your wardrobe, if you want to look smart in this color combination, stick to grey for the suit if you want to carry a sophisticated air about you.
And it’s time to mention the Oliver Wicks motto- the suit that fits you. If you’re trying something bold or daring with your look, the last thing you need is a sloppy, inelegant fit to detract from it. While your choice of style- be it slim, modern, or relaxed- will always be personal, you might want to lean into a neat and precise visual line with this color pair. Let the colors speak for themselves rather than being crowded out by other ‘noise.’ And nothing excuses a poor fit! Even relaxed cuts should fit well on the body underneath it. You wear the suit, after all, not the other way around.
Not sure how to ensure every suit you own fits like a dream? Oliver Wicks is here to help. We have a series of simple video tutorials that will have you measured like a pro in minutes- and all you need to get your hands on them is an account on our website. No purchase is necessary. You can sign up from any page on the site, too, so it couldn’t be easier.
While red and grey can work very well, you do need to pay attention to what you’re doing with it. We’ve spoken before about how the undertone, or subtle base shades, of color, can profoundly influence how it projects to the eye- and what it pairs well with. Both red and grey come in a dazzling variety of hues, both across the light-dark spectrum and in color warmth. And to wear this look with ease and confidence, you’ll need to make sure you pick the right pair.
Remember the rule of thumb we mentioned above. The darker the grey, the darker the red you will want to pair it with. The more washed-out and gentler reds better suit paler, soft greys to build on the same color palette and visual mood. And if your grey is notably cool in tone, you will want to pick a cooler red to set it off.
Does that mean you can never, ever opt for a bright and jazzy red with dark charcoal? Not entirely, but you run a far greater chance of creating a visual mismatch and will need to give both the mood and the occasion careful consideration.
It’s also worth remembering that the hotter and brighter the red, the more intense the effect will be. If you’re looking for a dapper and interesting way to change your look, err on the side of muted and cooler, berry-toned reds that will easily transition from work to play. If you want to make a statement, and it’s appropriate for the occasion, go hot and bright.
Sartorial elegance isn’t just about looking good but also about keeping your look appropriate for the occasion at hand. It shows both social intelligence and a mastery of what you’re doing rather than a slavish devotion to a look over the people around you. For the grey suit and red shirt combination, the more you lean into the red, the more festive and free-spirited you will look. Fantastic for a beach wedding or midsummer party but not so great for the boardroom. If it’s a formal occasion of any sort, keep the red minimal and calm and let the grey do most of the heavy lifting.
The same goes for fabrics and patterns. A jolly red stripe on a crisp white shirt would look great with a mid-grey suit for a happy daytime function. At night, you will simply look out of place. And this isn’t a color combination to introduce lush, attention-grabbing fabrics like satin, either. The colors already do all the talking. Stick to wool, blends, cotton, or linen for your suit, and a stylish cotton or silk-blend shirt.
This is a look with a lot to say for itself. Provided you make a smart choice of suit color, it can transition from casual to formal relatively effortlessly. That said, it’s probably best kept to business casual arenas unless you opt for a heavily muted tone in both suit and shirt. Remember that the darker the suit, the more formal-appropriate it is, and the more it leans to evening events. Keep the pale greys for daytime and light-hearted occasions. If you do want to try this look at the office, err on the side of caution with a classic charcoal suit.
Because of the bold color that you’re introducing through the shirt, you want to keep the rest of your look simple and sleek. This isn’t a color combo that calls for piling on all the jewelry and accessories you own! You want your choice of colors to stand out and speak for themselves rather than get lost in an altogether too jazzy outfit, so steer away from more statement pieces like hats, flashy watches, and so on. As always, don’t consider fashionability alone, but also put some thought into the mood and occasion you’re wearing it at and choose your accessories accordingly.
Of all the accessories you could pick for your grey suit and red shirt combo, the choice of tie you make will be one of the most important. Because a tie has both a big visual impact on any suit look, as well as bringing the biggest extra expanse of fabric and color to the table, you need to make a great match. And there are very few occasions where you’ll be wearing a suit and dress shirt without needing a tie to finish the look. You already have an eye-catching and loud shirt choice, so you don’t want to pile even more on with the tie.
And needless to say, match-y match-y won’t look cute. We usually advise skipping a ‘busy’ tie if you already have a lot going on elsewhere in your look, but this is a case where a subtle and controlled pattern or two-toned tie will serve to draw the overall look together instead of offsetting it. While picking out a little of the red, perhaps in a darker shade, in a stripe, or subdued pattern, can work, you will want to lean into the neutral grey of the suit more to really pull things together.
You can take that very literally if you please, and take a grey or silver tie out for a spin. It will mesh the two big, bold aspects of this look together nicely. Here’s one from the Oliver Wicks collection that would be perfect for the look you’re building. For a darker charcoal suit, a red and navy stripe or black-based tie could also work well. For lighter greys, look for a stylish light grey-based tie to match.
Next up, we have the other big player- your shoes. Grey suits are incredibly versatile as to the leather they can carry, easily suiting both black and brown. But let’s circle back to the idea of looking too ‘costume-y’ in a bold look. This isn’t the time to trot out your brown or oxblood shoes, even if they technically ‘match.’ Instead, a neat and precise black will look great without trying to steal the thunder from your bright shirt. As always, you should match your other leathers- from your belt to your watch strap- to your shoes to create the perfect frame. Choose your shoe style based on the occasion, but steer away from too many stylistic twists.
Wearing a bolder color like red in cool months can be a great way to pep up a dreary and dismal season. But again, you already have a lot going on. As with our tie advice above, we’d stick with a classic scarf in a muted tone that brings a little of both colors to the table or stick with a classic grey that will look great in any setting.
Styled well, a grey suit and red shirt bring powerful masculine energy and an aura of confidence to the table. If you’re looking for a great way to branch out from the tried-and-true, and you already have a wardrobe of grey/navy suits and white shirts, then this is a color pair to have on your radar as something a little different. And if you need any more help styling it to perfection, the Oliver Wicks team is always here to help- reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need!