I've noticed that what holds a lot of a men back from experimenting with new, fun accessories is a lack of knowledge about matching colors. (We've all been there, guys. I wore black-on-black for half of high school, so I definitely had some catching up to do.) While the plain black tie look can be classy, a colorful set of accessories can add a new layer of depth to your outfit and separate you from the rest of the crowd. Remember that accessories make an outfit by acting as easy focal points--something that draws people's eyes in to the rest of your outfit.
Let's begin with color. While people can write (and have written) entire books on color theory, I know you're busy, so we'll keep this guide short and sweet. Here's a simple color wheel* from Ask Andy About Clothes to get you started. You can find more complicated color wheels online as you begin to get the hang of coordinating colors, but this one is easy to work with. Basically, colors that are close to each other on wheel--such as green and blue green--go well together, while colors that are further apart will tend to clash. For example, unless it's Mardi Gras, I don't recommend wearing a bright yellow tie with a deep violet shirt.
Take this green shirt from Twillory. It would pair well with deep blue tie, like this linen necktie from Bonobos. (That's right, we're not limited by matching brands.) The blue acts as a focal point for the outfit while deepening the green color of the shirt. This is an example of matching a lighter tint of one color (the green) with the main shade of another (the blue). If you want to wear them under a suit, this white-dotted navy pocket square from Club Monaco would draw eyes while still complementing the rest of the outfit. Pocket squares are great for adding a pop of color to a suit, and they make any suit look extra fancy.
If you're a fan of simple styles, try this budget-friendly blue striped shirt from Lands End with a dotted tie in a deeper shade of blue. The resulting look is understated, yet classy and professional. Sometimes smart color choices stand out more than bold patterns. And of course, one of the most important aspects of fashion is that you feel comfortable in what you wear.
A simple yet surprising color combination that I'm especially fond of is purple and gray/silver. Purple is great for preventing a gray shirt from looking too drab, while a gray or silver tie accents a purple shirt well without creating a bad color contrast. This gray herringbone shirt from Bonobos is nice but could use a nice splash of color--try pairing it with this deep purple tie from Todd Snyder. The result is a great color combination that creates a memorable outfit. Gray is also a trending color going into this fall season, so an outfit like this will be seen as trendy without pushing you too far out of your safe zone.
As you become ready to experiment further with colors, remember that patterned neckties leave you free to branch out a little more on the color wheel. My rule is here is that one of the main colors in the tie or pocket square (usually the background color or the main color in the pattern) needs to echo the color of your shirt. Paisley ties and squares in particular have been making a real comeback and are a great way to incorporate many colors into an outfit. I know paisley might seem a little too out there or look like something your grandpa wore, but personally I'm a sucker for the classics (must be the scholar in me). This paisley tie from Original Penguin has an easy-on-the-eyes color scheme, but will still help you stand out from the madding crowd. Pair it with this blue Bonobos shirt for a eye-catching yet sophisticated look.
Now that you're basically a matching expert (if you weren't already), try out shopping for yourself with your new skills. Build some fresh, colorful, innovative outfits that make you look great and feel great. Guys, you can even impress your girlfriend the next time you go out shopping together by creating some great outfits for her! Stick with the basic rules outlined here, but remember that they're not set in stone. So, get shopping and have fun!