Last year, our very own Matt Allinson detailed how you could upgrade your winter shirt collection with the addition of khaki and burgundy hues, as well as monochrome tones of navy, black and grey. The last one caused a bit of a stir, as grey is not typically a colour you would associate with a shirt; some thought it looks a little “dirty”, whilst others compared it to something a priest would wear. This type of reaction was expected, as grey can be a little bland and uninspiring when compared to the plethora of patterns and colours currently available on the market.

However, this year it seems the industry is going back to basics. Last year, men’s fashion saw a huge influx of colour, but for 2012 the monochromes and neutrals are back with a bang (blue is another major colour trend for spring/summer) – with an increased emphasis on tone and texture that allows you to wear multiple shades of the same colour, and still look put together and well dressed.

The Grey Shirt: Formal

As you should already be aware, the grey suit is an essential piece of menswear for any stylish male. This year, the grey shirt becomes its perfect partner; now available in more shades, patterns and textures than ever, it becomes increasingly versatile and able to create a contrast when paired with your existing tailoring.

Not only that, grey also works wonderfully with blue – so it can be teamed with your staple navy blazers and existing tie collection.

The Formal Grey Shirt Lookbook

Check the lookbook below for inspiration as to how you could incorporate a grey shirt in your current formal/work looks this year.

Men's Formal Grey Shirts Lookbook

How To Wear

Here are some guidelines in order to help you wear a formal grey shirt successfully:

  • The ‘All Grey’ Outfit: It sounds drab, but all grey attire can actually produce a well put together and coordinated work look. The great thing about grey is that the hue can vary greatly. From light grey (just off white) to darker charcoal hues, there is so much range that you can give your outfits defined sections [top row left | middle row centre] by creating a contrast. You could even go as far as to pair your shirt and suit combination with grey overcoats and ties, so long as you incorporate additional textures and patterns.
  • Opt For Pattern: The formal grey shirt is now available in many different patterns – from stripes to checks and gingham – meaning there is a style for everyone. For those who still consider the colour to be bland, utilising a pattern may be just what you are looking for. Pair with a dark solid tie for an easy go-to combination, or alternatively showcase your style credentials by mixing with a patterned tie, such as polka dots. Remember, if you are pattern matching, to make sure the size and style of the patterns do not clash.
  • Grey Shirt & Tie Combo: As mentioned above, the grey shirt and tie combination is one you should definitely consider this year. Make sure you choose a darker tie and you can’t really go wrong – especially if you opt for pattern and/or texture in order to differentiate the two pieces. Why not try a flannel, silk, knitted or tweed effect tie?
  • Grey & Blue: Grey and blue is another beautiful colour combination. Blue is going to be huge this spring/summer, which means that by combining these two colours you can hint at the current underlying trends without having to be seen as a slave to fashion. Again, the easiest way to incorporate blue into your outfit would be through the use of a dark navy tie [top row left & centre | bottom row left], whilst navy tones for your base attire can also provide a great contrast [middle row left].
  • The 21st Century 3-Piece: We have recently detailed how you can put a spin on the traditional men’s 3-piece suit by dropping the waistcoat and subbing in a cardigan. This look is modern and contemporary, whilst having the added bonus of framing your grey shirt within your outfit. Try a dark grey textured cardigan over a light grey shirt and a mid-grey suit. Even if the colour of the suit and shirt are very similar, the breaking up of the two pieces by the cardigan allows you to successfully wear both at the same time. Alternatively, why not inject a shot of life and colour into the look by utilising a burgundy, navy or bottle green cardigan? Grey is a neutral and will anchor even the boldest of colour choices.
  • Go Bold With Your Tie: Grey is still a neutral colour, which means it will also work well with coloured ties. Deep, rich shades tend to work best, with the most suitable colours coming in your purple, red and blue tones.
  • Brown Footwear: Brown shoes work very well with grey formal wear – both colours compliment each other and grey brings out the rich tone of brown (much like navy does). Therefore, brown shoes will look great with your new grey shirt and the navy/blue tones you choose to integrate with it. A dark brown usually works best, and it simultaneously allows you to come away from your traditional black Derbies.
Men’s Grey Formal Shirts
  • Burton Grey Oxford Button Down SlimBurton Grey Oxford Button Down Slim
  • Paul Smith – Jeans 753k-731 Tailored Light Grey ShirtPaul Smith - Jeans 753k-731 Tailored Light Grey Shirt
  • Selected Grey Oxford ShirtSelected Grey Oxford Shirt
  • Jasper Conran Grey Textured Stripe ShirtJasper Conran Grey Textured Stripe Shirt
  • Thomas Pink Slim Fit Marinot Check Shirt Grey/whiteThomas Pink Slim Fit Marinot Check Shirt Grey/white
  • Redherring Grey Gingham ShirtRedherring Grey Gingham Shirt
  • Reiss Closer Evening Formal Shirt Lux GreyReiss Closer Evening Formal Shirt Lux Grey
  • Jasper Conran Grey Bold Stripe Luxury ShirtJasper Conran Grey Bold Stripe Luxury Shirt
  • Austin Reed 110th Anniversary Fine Puppytooth ShirtAustin Reed 110th Anniversary Fine Puppytooth Shirt
Tie Options
  • Asos Grey Wool TieAsos Grey Wool Tie
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Chambray TiePaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Chambray Tie
  • Forzieri Pencil Stripe Silk Twill TieForzieri Pencil Stripe Silk Twill Tie
  • Drakes Patterned Silk TieDrakes Patterned Silk Tie
  • Forzieri Valentino Garavani Patterned Plaid Silk TieForzieri Valentino Garavani Patterned Plaid Silk Tie
  • Brioni Knitted Silk TieBrioni Knitted Silk Tie
  • Burgundy Striped Texture TieBurgundy Striped Texture Tie
  • Banana Republic Classic Plaid Silk TieBanana Republic Classic Plaid Silk Tie
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Woven-silk TiePaul Smith Shoes & Accessories Striped Woven-silk Tie
  • Austin Reed Red Purple Neat TieAustin Reed Red Purple Neat Tie
  • Austin Reed Red Square Neat TieAustin Reed Red Square Neat Tie
  • J.crew Knitted Silk TieJ.crew Knitted Silk Tie
The Grey Shirt: Casual

The grey shirt is not only making waves within the world of formal attire. During both the current autumn/winter period and the upcoming spring/summer season, we have been seeing more and more casual grey shirts being utilised within look books, advertising campaigns and editorials. It is definitely a shirt to consider adding to your wardrobe, mainly due to the fact that it is still not a popular piece (how often can you say that?) and also because it provides as much versatility as a traditional neutral shirt.

The guidelines to wearing one casually are exactly the same as when you opt to wear one formally. Tone, texture and pattern are the key considerations here, but luckily, there is even more variety when it comes to casual shirts. You will see below that you can opt for washed denim, checks, plaid, brushed cotton, chambray, stripes and prints – meaning they can be paired with other monochromes such as black, beige, grey or blue and still provide enough contrast to create a successfully layered outfit.

The Casual Grey Shirt Lookbook

Men's Casual Grey Shirts Lookbook

Men’s Grey Casual Shirts
  • Allsaints Crag ShirtAllsaints Crag Shirt
  • Reiss Jake Ls Check Shirt Pale GreyReiss Jake Ls Check Shirt Pale Grey
  • Allsaints Graceland L/s ShirtAllsaints Graceland L/s Shirt
  • Diesel Slavin-rs Pocket ShirtDiesel Slavin-rs Pocket Shirt
  • Cheap Monday Neo Grey Cotton ShirtCheap Monday Neo Grey Cotton Shirt
  • Austin Reed Red Grey Melange Flannel ShirtAustin Reed Red Grey Melange Flannel Shirt
  • Polo Ralph Lauren A04 Grey ShirtPolo Ralph Lauren A04 Grey Shirt
  • Topman Grey Marl Waffle Cotton ShirtTopman Grey Marl Waffle Cotton Shirt
  • Paul Smith Cotton Chambray Oxford ShirtPaul Smith Cotton Chambray Oxford Shirt
  • Dolce & Gabbana Gold Fit Checked Cotton ShirtDolce & Gabbana Gold Fit Checked Cotton Shirt
  • Vince Linen ShirtVince Linen Shirt
  • Uniqlo Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt B1Uniqlo Flannel Check Long Sleeve Shirt B1

They grey shirt has been labelled many things; dirty, uninspiring, drab or boring are all words that are stereotypically used to describe such a basic piece. However, moving forward, there will be a major emphasis placed on traditional neutral colours and tonal outfits within the industry this year, and the grey shirt is worthy of your consideration.

Whether you are opting for a formal shirt or something more casual, this is a timeless piece that provides great versatility. It can be used as an anchor when paired with other bold colours, or it can be used to create beautifully coordinated, yet contrasting, outfits on a daily basis.

So, now I want to hear your opinion…

  • Have your perceptions of the grey shirt changed?
  • Would you consider adding one to your formal or casual wardrobe this year?
  • Do you already own a grey shirt? If so, how do you wear yours?
  • What do you think about the current emphasis on producing single coloured, tonal outfits?

Let us know in the comments below.