How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit

Since the watch is the only piece of jewelry besides a wedding ring that most men wear, picking the right watch every day is extremely important. If you don’t know what to wear, my advice and guide on how to match your watch with your outfit will show you what to do.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Traditional Advice

The traditional watch advice has always been to match your leathers and your metals. Basically, if you wear a black belt and black shoes, you wear a black leather watch strap. If you wear a brown belt and brown shoes, you wear a brown leather strap. If you have on silver jewelry, your watch case, bracelet and/or strap buckle should be silver. If you have on gold jewelry, your watch case, bracelet and/or strap buckle should be gold.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Is This Good Advice?

Not always. These rules are nice and simple, but the formality of the situation that you are dressing for is more important. The watch you wear on the weekend shouldn’t be the same one that you wear with a tux.

Also, remember that watches are a very personal thing. If you think something fits your personal style and the clothes that you are wearing, go for it. I tend to keep my dress and color selection conservative, so feel free to bend and break these rules if you dress zazzier than me.

Formal/Black TieYesNoNoNoNo
Business FormalYes MaybeMaybeNoNo
Business CasualYesYesYesYesNo
Smart CasualYesYesYesYesYes
Ultra CasualNoYesYesYesYes
Formal/Black TieYesNoNoBlack
Business FormalYesMaybeNoMatch Leathers
Business CasualYesYesMaybeMatch Something
Smart CasualYesYesMaybeMatch Something
CasualYesYesYesMatch Something
Ultra CasualNoYesYesGo Wild

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Formal/Black Tie

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In the most formal setting, my advice is to stay conservative and follow the traditional “match your leather and your metal” advice. However, there are some schools of fashion that say you shouldn’t even wear a watch with a tuxedo. If you do wear a watch in a formal or black tie situation, the purpose is to not be flashy or stand out but to compliment your tuxedo or black suit. A classic silver or rose-gold cased dress watch with a white dial on a black leather strap is usually the way to go. A black dial is also an acceptable choice with a black, silver, or rose-gold case.

Chronographs, dive, and military watches are usually too flashy for formal situations. Even for dress watches, you are going to want a clean dial that keeps complications or subdials to a bare minimum. Leather straps also give you the most formal look, so leave your bracelet or NATO strap at home.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Business Formal

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When wearing a suit, you have a little more creative flexibility than black tie. I would still try to stay conservative with a leather strap that matches your shoes and belt, but you have a little more flexibility with the color of your strap depending on your color choice. If you have brown shoes, you can wear a brown strap. Black, brown, gray, and blue are great choices depending on your suit. I’m not totally opposed to silver or gold bracelet depending on the watch and situation, but I still tend to stay conservative in a suit. If your style is bolder than mine, go louder!

A suit will also open you will to other styles of watches. A dress watch is still a go-to recommendation, but you can sport a dial that has more complications or sub-dials. Other dial colors besides black or white are acceptable as well. In addition, some of the more dressy chronograph and dive watch options are great on the right strap as well. You still are aiming for a clean classic look, so the Casio MDV106 or an Invicta Pro Diver would look great with a suit, but the Casio Marine Gear AMW 330 would look too busy and casual.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Business/Smart Casual

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If you are not suiting up every day, more casual work attire gives you a lot of flexibility to get creative with your watch selection. You can rock pretty much any style of watch you want on a leather strap or a bracelet. You can also expand your color selection beyond just the traditional “match your leather” advice. Just match something. Could be a sweater. Could be a tie. As long as it looks good and fits your personal style, you can go with it. You can also always just match your strap with your shoes and belt.

The only difference for me between business casual and smart casual is your strap. If it is acceptable to wear jeans then it is acceptable to dress down your watch strap as well. Feel free to break out the nylon NATOs and rubber resin straps. You may even be able to dress down your strap in some business casual workplaces depending on the workplace vibe. With NATO and rubber straps, you can also break out your digital watches for a retro 80s/90s vibe.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Casual/Ultra Casual

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Everyone has a different definition of casual. I usually think of golf or country club attire with a polo or button-down shirt. Basically, anything except a t-shirt, hoodie, and shorts. You can wear anything with casual attire. Just follow the match something principle.

When you break out your ultra-casual t-shirt and hoodie on the weekend, it’s probably time to leave your dress watch and leather strap in the watch box. As long as it looks good, you can go with whatever.

How to Match Your Watch With Your Outfit: Closing

In the end, keep in mind that these are just guidelines. If you think a watch looks good with your personal style, wear it! If you liked this article, check out the rest of my Intro to Watches guide and please give me a follow on social or subscribe in the sidebar.

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