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Next to the navy suit, a gray suit is an absolute men's wardrobestaple. Why? Well, it's not just a good business suit but the gray color allows you to pair it with all sorts of shirt colors and ties putting it on top of the versatility scale. Gray, in general, is a fantastic suit color because it comes in many different shades.
First on the list is the most formal shade, the so-called charcoal gray. It's dark enough that you can wear it in most functions where you otherwise would think of a black suit, think of a funeral or attending a play or going to a business event, the charcoal suit will always work.
Next up we'll go one shade lighter, medium gray. A general rule, not just with gray but with all suiting colors is the lighter the shade the less formal it is. So therefore, while a medium gray suit is still appropriate for the office and most other functions mentioned earlier, with the exceptions of funerals, it has a slightly more casual vibe.
Now last but not least, you have the light grey suit. It's even more casual yet it's still a suit, it can be used as a fresco fabric in the summer so it's a light breezy feel and you can wear it with even bolder and more summery colors.
Now that we've covered our suiting grayscale basics, let's start about specific shirt and tie combinations that you can wear so you look your best.
First, let's talk about shirts. The classic staple is the white dress shirt. For a charcoal suit, you probably want something that is very formal and I would suggest to go with a white dress shirt, medium spread collar, no breast pocket, and French cuffs or double cuffs that are worn with cufflinks.
Now, let's quickly talk about a very fashion-forward look which is pairing a gray suit with a black shirt. Now, chances are there are a lot of Instagrammers and influencers trying to tell you that wearing a black shirt is hip and trendy and fashionable but in classic menswear, black dress shirts have never been a viable option. If you want to wear black shirts with a gray suit, go for it but we believe that a lighter shirt color that provides a bit more contrast is always more complimentary to your outfit and look.
Overall, I would suggest you always try to have a shirt that is lighter in color than your suit otherwise it looks a little off.
In terms of ties, a solid navy tie is of course a formal staple paired with a blue shirt and a gray suit but it can be also a little boring. So other than the typical suspects red, green, or plum, you could also experiment with a complementary color of blue which is orange.
Another common shirt color for gray suits is pink. Pastelly pinks can be a great change to the monotony of white and light blue shirts and they work particularly well with gray because there's a subtle contrast yet it warms up that gray color.
If you go with a differently colored shirt, a safe way is always to choose a tie that is darker in the same color family. So if I have a light orange or creamy shirt then maybe an orange tie would work. If there is some green in my shirt, a green tie works.
Which brings us to the next point, shirts don't have to be solids; you can have patterned shirts as well and stripes are the most classic ones. Again, larger stripes are more casual and therefore, better suited with lighter shades of gray. Of course, you can also incorporate check shirts into your outfits, they're a bit more casual than striped ones so they work better with light grey suits.