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Grey is a gloriously neutral color that gives you a whole range of color-matching options. But certain options will always be better than others. So, what color shirt should you wear with grey pants?
Grey pants can be worn with a white dress shirt in formal and business-professional settings. In business-casual settings, consider a light blue shirt instead. When attending a smart-casual event, consider grey pants with a maroon, hunter green, or navy blue dress shirt.
That’s the short answer, but it’s definitely worth digging deeper.
After going through a few essential tips on how to color-match grey pants with shirts, we’ll run through some combinations you can try out.
Let’s get to it.
How To Match Grey Pants With Shirts (Essential Tips)
These tips should see you through no matter what setting you’re dressing for and no matter what style/shade your grey pants are.
1. Consider The Dress Code
Neutral shirts such as white or off-white are the best option when wearing grey pants to a formal or business-casual setting.
Light blue is the one exception – while technically not neutral, it’s considered a staple of the workplace and would almost always be acceptable in business-casual settings.
The take-home message here is that grey is neutral enough for any color of shirt to work.
But the dress code should influence whether certain colors may be more appropriate than others.
Here’s a list of common dress codes, together with the best shirt colors to wear with grey pants in these settings:
- Formal – Grey pants with a white or off-white shirt.
- Business-Professional – Grey pants with a white or light blue shirt.
- Business-Casual – Grey pants with a white or light blue shirt.
- Smart-Casual (daytime) – Grey pants with neutral or non-neutral shirts in a light shade.
- Smart-Casual (evening) – Grey pants with neutral or non-neutral shirts in a light or dark shade.
2. Consider The Time Of Day
In short, dark-colored shirts (both neutral and non-neutral) tend to look better for evening social events.
Whether the shirt is black, navy, maroon, or charcoal grey – they almost always work best in the evening.
When dressing for smart-casual events, however, you have more options and can choose a more vibrantly colored shirt instead if you wanted to. For example, mint green, navy blue, maroon, and so on. You’ll see more in the combinations below.
It isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but something to consider.
3. Consider The Shade Of Grey Pants
This tip is to do with contrast. The grey pants you’re wearing could be light grey, dark grey, or anything in between.
The next question to ask yourself is how much contrast you want between the grey pants and the shirt.
Wearing a light grey pair of pants with a dark-colored shirt (eg. navy blue) will lead to a high-contrast look. You’d get the same outcome when wearing a dark grey (eg. charcoal) pair of pants with a light-colored shirt (eg. sky blue).
A high-contrast combination (i.e light vs dark) isn’t necessarily more casual or more formal here. It’ll just be more eye-catching.
If you’d prefer a more straightforward and uniformly dark aesthetic, consider going for a dark-colored shirt with your dark grey pants instead.
This would work especially well for evening social events.
4. Consider Warm Vs Cool Colors
Although grey is neutral and doesn’t appear on the color wheel, having an understanding of the color wheel, warm colors, and cool colors can be helpful.
It helps you choose a shirt color based on what aesthetic or vibe you want.
For example, if you want a more vibrant and eye-catching look, wear grey pants with a warm-colored shirt.
If you want a more laid-back and relaxed look, wear grey pants with a cool-colored look.
While this isn’t a rule, warm colors tend to look better during the summer/spring months, and cool colors tend to look better during the winter/fall months.
Grey Pants And Shirt Combinations To Try Out
In this section you’ll see just how many shirt color options you’ve got when wearing grey pants.
With each example, you’ll also see which dress codes the combo would be best suited to.
Grey Pants With A Grey Shirt
Dress Code – Formal, Business-Casual, Smart-Casual
Grey pants can be worn with a grey shirt in formal, business-casual, and smart-casual settings. The monochromatic combination is versatile and works well.
A monochromatic outfit is one where you’ve gone for items in the same color. But this doesn’t mean that the items are the same shade of the same color.
In fact, this often looks pretty awkward.
You want to choose items in various shades of the same color.
Here, for example, you could go for light grey pants with a dark grey shirt or vice versa.
When dressing for formal or business-casual settings, stick to a light grey shirt with dark grey pants combo.
Although a white or light blue shirt would be a better option, a shirt in a very light shade of grey would still be reasonable.
When dressing for smart-casual evening events, however, a dark grey shirt with light grey pants combo could work very well.
Grey Pants With A White Shirt
Dress Code – Formal, Business-Casual, Business-Professional, Smart-Casual
Grey pants with a white shirt can be worn in any dress code. It’s subtle, versatile, and incredibly easy to combine with other items.
Unlike the grey pants and grey shirt combo, a white shirt can be worn in business-professional (i.e corporate workplaces) as well.
This would usually be as part of a 2-piece suit.
The neutrality of the grey pants and white shirt combo is its main benefit.
You can easily color-coordinate it with any other item you can think of – whether it’s a scarlet red tie or a burnt orange pocket square.
Grey Pants With Black Or Navy Shirt
Dress Code – Smart-Casual (Evening Events)
Grey pants can be worn with a black or navy shirt to smart-casual evening social events. For more contrast, consider a light grey pair of pants.
While the combination can look incredibly sophisticated, it’s important to wear it in the right settings.
As mentioned earlier, shirts this dark tend to look a little awkward in daylight. It can work, but it isn’t easy.
They can be transformed, however, when wearing them in the evening. Dark shirts tend to sync well with the darkness of the night.
Avoid wearing grey pants with shirts this dark in formal, business-professional, or evening business-casual events.
Stick to lighter, neutral-colored shirts in these settings instead.
Grey Pants With A Maroon Or Pink Shirt
Dress Code – Smart-Casual
Maroon and pink shirts tend to work very well with grey pants given how vibrant and eye-catching they tend to look.
Here, we’re working with “warm” colors, as you can see from the color wheel.
You’ve got other warm colors you could potentially work with – including other shades of red (eg. burgundy, crimson), orange, or yellow.
But maroon and pink shirts tend to be the easiest options.
Light pink shirts are so subtle that they often work in business-casual settings as well.
Maroon is dark enough to really only be suitable for evening smart-casual social events.
It’s unusual enough to turn heads, but is dark and muted enough to not appear too flamboyant.
Grey Pants With A Blue Or Green Shirt
Dress Code – Smart-Casual
Blue and green shirts work well with grey pants and have a distinctly laid-back feel to them. The combination is especially suitable during the winter and fall months.
Having said that, you’d pretty easily be able to pull it off year-round.
Here, we’re working with “cool” colors. Blues, greens, purples – they’re all considered “cool”.
Shirts in any of these colors could work with grey pants, but blue and green would be the easiest.
Light blue shirts are incredibly versatile and can be worn in business-professional or business-casual settings as an alternative to a white dress shirt.
Green shirts, as well as shirts in darker shades of blue, should really only be worn in smart-casual settings.
When wearing a shirt in a dark shade of one of these colors, try to choose a shade that’s relatively muted (eg. navy blue or hunter green).
Dark and muted shades of colors are grey because they maintain an element of subtlety. You don’t want to draw too much attention.
Grey pants can be worn with a wide variety of shirt colors ranging from light and neutral (eg. white, light grey), to dark and non-neutral (eg. navy blue or maroon).
Ultimately, your decision should be based on the dress code, the time of day, and potentially the shade of grey pants you’re working with.
Ready Sleek founder. Obsessed with casual style and the minimalist approach to building a highly functional wardrobe. Also a fan of classic, vintage hairstyles.