Reader Stefano writes:
Can a dark shirt be worn with a tie? Long sleeved, that's obvious.
For instance: I own a burgundy OCBD and an olive green, tone-on tone french-cuffed one, both from reputable albeit less-known Italian craftsmen.
I've often read that when a shirt is dark, it can't be worn with a tie, but I've sometimes matched those with a brighter tie and a really dark suit, and they seem to work.
As with most such quandaries in the realm of menswear, there is a short, rule-bound answer and a much longer one involving vague concepts of personal taste and attitude. In this case the short answer is "no". When wearing a coat and tie, it is best to have a light colored shirt. That answer will keep the pedantic rule followers happy.
The long answer is not so simple, and has more to do with a function of personal choice and the situation in which you'll wearing the clothes. In the above photo, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., regarded by many as one of the best dressed men of all time, is seen in a double breasted suit with a black shirt and a tie. I think he pulls it off, but there is a slim possibility that my opinion is being influenced by the fact that its Douglas Fairbanks. I couldn't do this, but maybe you can. In the past I used to try this look occasionally, but remember that my style was a little more garish in my youth then I realized at the time.
I think for serious business or somber occasions, a light shirt with a dark suit and tie is best. It's a tried and true combination that will always be correct. Dark shirts show a greater consciousness of fashion, and as such they are less appropriate for situations where the attention should not be on a mans clothes. However, this is not to reject them out of hand. A dark shirt can give a certain casual air to a suit, if done properly. And a darker shirt with a tweed and corduroys can have it's moments too. If you are going to try this look, my advice would be to avoid sheen at all costs. Stick with matte fabrics that have some texture in the weave so as to invoke a country, weekend vibe. But tread lightly, here. There are a lot of negative connotations that can easily be brought into the mix. Black shirts with suits scream "Mafia" to many people. Guys my age and older still cringe at reminders of the sartorial disaster that was "tone on tone" shirt and tie combinations back in the 1990s. And there's always the very real risk of looking like a sleazy lawyer.
There is no real right answer to a question like this. There was once, but not anymore. These days, the very fact that you're even asking these kinds of questions and thinking about what you're wearing and how it is perceived puts you far ahead of the pack. Let your own taste, style and level confidence be your guide. Just be careful.
p.s. bet you never would have believed me of I told you I'd tie Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Saul Goodman together on a sartorial matter.