So I know my skin color, what now?
In general, you want to draw attention to the face. One of the reasons for the neckties persistence is this right here. A splash of color or texture draws the eyes to the necktie and then up to the face. Same with the pocket square. The eyes are drawn to the chest up to the face. I like to have both these elements for this reason and this reason alone. This is also a good argument for nice ties. They are essentially the focal point of an outfit, might as well make it an awesome focal point. Even if you aren’t wearing a tie, it is always wisest to try and maximize contrast around the face and chest and not the pants and legs.
When you approach a suit/sportcoat and tie outfit, think of the “V” made by your lapels and the tie and shirt within it as your canvas. This is the most important part of the outfit, and it is your chance to shine. Consider the contrast between shirt and tie. Consider contrast between jacket and shirt. Consider any accoutrements like tie bars. Consider the colors themselves. You have 4 basic colors to work with. They are:
Dominant shirt color
Dominant tie color
Dominant jacket color
Minor tie colors
I think it works best to make one of these colors the color of your eyes. If you have brighter eyes, shirt or tie color. If you have darker eyes, jacket color is probably better, or maybe as one of the minor tie colors. Take contrast into consideration within the “V” too. High contrast skin/hair/eyes, and this V should see more contrast. Low contrast and it shouldn’t. You can achieve this by opting for a white/whitish shirt for a high contrast or blue/brownish shirt for a low contrast. Another option would be to get a darker charcoal suit/navy for high contrast or a medium grey/medium or airforce blue color for the jacket for low contrast. A bright shiny tie bar will create a lot of contrast. A more mellow take (or no tie bar) will minimize contrast.
For shirts, the only solid colored shirts I would ever wear with a suit would be light blue, white, light yellow, pink, and maybe grey. If you work in a more conservative environment, stick to the first two. If you want more colors, I would suggest a patterned shirt with either stripes in the color you want or a graph check in that color. Gingham maybe. Plaid is really really iffy here. What I’m getting at is that I wouldn’t wear a solid red shirt (one of the reasons express always looks so off to me), but I would definitely wear a shirt with red stripes. Stick to a single color for stripes, and it is probably best if it is based on a white color.
For a businessy environment, a suit is gonna be a solid color or a really subtle check or stripe pattern. If you want more options, consider a sportcoat/slacks get up, but that’s not nearly as popular.
Finally for the moment of truth, the tie. “WHICH TIE SHOULD I PICK” is a popular question around here. Once you’ve narrowed it down to ties that are appropriate ( bleeding madras at an interview, not so much) here are some pointers:
Three colors to bring out: eyes, hair, and pocket square. Make one of the colors of the tie this color for best results
The tie will likely have more than one color to it. I like to stick with two colors, three at the most. In my experience you’ll either have the two colors sharing equal billing or one color as a background with the others as the minor colors. Use the background color to contrast with the shirt and jacket, use the minor color(s) to work with pocketsquare/eyes/hair.
If you opt for a solid color tie, consider getting a little texture instead. A knit texture, a gabardine texture, a slub cashmere or cotton or silk, anything with a little character to it. Makes a monochrome outfit more interesting.
Stay away from overly shiny ties. You can tell em when you see em.