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Blog / Style & trends / 10+ T-Shirt and Ink Color Combinations for Every Occasion

Style & trends

10+ T-Shirt and Ink Color Combinations for Every Occasion

10+ T-Shirt and Ink Color Combinations for Every Occasion
Agnese Zimele

By Agnese Zimele

6 min read

Gone are the days when t-shirts were merely seen as comfortable, plain-colored garments.  Now, as one of the most commonly worn clothing items, they’ve evolved into a means of self-expression and a way to forge connections.

The text and graphics are just one part of the equation. Having a fitting t-shirt and ink color combination separates trending products from ordinary designs and can be the deciding factor for many of your customers. So, if you’re struggling with pairing complementary colors for your custom t-shirts, we’re here to help.

Explore the 14 most effective t-shirt and ink color combinations to make sure your designs grab attention and look pleasing to the eye every single time.

1. Black and white 

You won’t find a more traditional color duo for clothing than black and white. While not listed on the familiar color wheel, this timeless classic provides a striking contrast that is particularly effective for t-shirt designs.

You can go with white ink on a black t-shirt or the other way around. This color combo will work well with a variety of designs, be it a small logo, a minimalistic graphic, or a bold text design on the front. It can look both formal and wild, giving space for realizing different ideas and offering something for everyone.

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2. Heather grey and navy blue

While it’s more common to use darker colors as the background for light and bright texts, heather grey and navy will prove the opposite. It may seem like an unexpected color combo at first, but in reality, it’s one of the most popular pairs for vintage-looking designs.

The cozy and neutral shade of grey brings out the deep sea blue. It will work best for custom t-shirts with organization and community-themed designs, like the names of colleges, clubs, or departments.

3. Navy blue and yellow

Another way to pair the mysterious navy blue is with the energetic yellow. Think—a dark blue sea and the sunrise. The elegant and subtle fabric color will highlight sunny texts and graphics.

On opposite sides of the color spectrum, blue and yellow form an uplifting combination that conveys action and enthusiasm. It will work best for t-shirts with sports-themed designs and illustrations.

4. Royal blue and orange

These vibrant and contrasting hues may not come across as a typical t-shirt color combination at first. However, when paired together, the bold royal blue and warm orange complement each other and are among the most exciting color combinations. No wonder Fanta has used it in their logo.

The key here is to find the right shade of orange to give enough contrast to your t-shirt design. This color combo is perfect for sports jerseys and shirts with bold, inspirational texts.

5. Forest green and beige

Forest green and beige is probably one of those ink and t-shirt color combinations you wouldn’t frequently find on lists of t-shirt design ideas. Yet, you should consider including it in your design collection if you’re looking for more calming and neutral pairings compared to the color combos mentioned before.

Given its earthy look, forest green and beige will be ideal for nature-inspired graphics and t-shirts dedicated to the outdoors. It’s best to choose the dark shade of green as the ink color for greater contrast, but you can also go the other way.

6. Maroon and white

Maroon is one of the most distinct and sophisticated colors, exuding wisdom and confidence. When combined with white ink, the brownish-red color brightens the text or graphic and offers an elegant, nostalgia-infused look.

This color combination has long been used in college apparel and works well with vintage-inspired designs or delicate typography as well.

7. Olive and gold

Being a warm and luxurious color, gold goes well with the subtle and serene olive green. Chances are you’ve seen this pairing on olive oil bottles, but it also looks excellent in t-shirt design.

It’s a more fancy version of the forest green and beige color combo we looked at before. The olive gives earthy vibes, while the gold adds an upscale feel. It will go well with military-themed and outdoorsy designs or intricate graphics.

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8. Red, blue, and yellow

Being primary colors in the color wheel, red, blue, and yellow, in theory, may seem too much for one t-shirt. However, it takes just a bit of playing around with different variations of the three colors to get a pleasing palette.

For example, you can use mustard yellow for the fabric and red and blue for the ink color. Or choose a slightly washed, lighter shade of blue for the t-shirt and make your graphics in the remaining two colors. Either way, this color combination will work great with retro themes and playful designs.

9. Navy blue and light blue

Putting the same color twice on one t-shirt is not the go-to strategy for many designers. Yet, with enough contrast and balance between the lighter and darker hues, you can achieve soothing and cohesive ink-color combinations.

The two blues, in particular, will create a sense of serenity and freedom. They look great in ocean-themed or celestial graphics and landscape silhouettes.

10. Baby pink and red

If you’re ready to step out of your comfort zone and create a dreamy t-shirt design, look no further than the baby pink and red color combo.

The sweetness and innocence of baby pink and the boldness of red create a striking color combination from first sight. They work very well together in designs that exude romance, youthfulness, and feminine energy.

Try this color pairing in your next t-shirt design if you want to play around with the Valentine’s Day theme or traditionally girly patterns.

11. Dark green and white

Similarly to maroon, dark green is a color of wealth and abundance. When complemented by the white ink, it creates a grounded and solid aesthetic.

The earthiness of the green and purity of the crisp white color will suit outdoor-themed and vintage designs, as well as simple floral drawings. This is another color combination commonly used in sports jerseys and college apparel.

12. Orange and black

The intense orange and black hues may seem far from complementary colors on paper. However, this combination will be perfect for people who prefer attention-grabbing and contrasting designs.

Orange itself symbolizes ambition, optimism, and energy. When paired with black, it creates an even bolder look that will match expressive patterns and impactful graphics. These colors will also work well for Halloween-themed t-shirts.

13. Red and yellow

As primary colors in the color wheel, red and yellow could appear too vibrant and independent to work well combined in a t-shirt design. They may also remind you of fast-food chains that favor this color combo above everything else.

Yet, red and yellow can complement each other in a t-shirt design and convey even more enthusiasm and vibrancy than each one individually. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the shades, and use this pairing to create cheerful graphics and fun retro designs.

14. Orchid purple and midnight blue

Out of all the secondary colors in the color wheel, purple seems to have the least amount of matching ink colors available. However, there are a few colors that add to the mysticism and artistic character of the purple color.

Midnight blue is one of them. Together with the breezy orchid purple, it creates a feminine and sophisticated look while also evoking calmness and delicacy. This color combo will go well with dreamy and galaxy-inspired graphics, inspirational texts, and intricate drawings.


Choosing the right t-shirt and ink color combinations can be a struggle. As long as you know the kind of look, vibe, or feel you want your clothing to exude, this guide will be a good starting point for finding suitable t-shirt and ink color pairings and creating impactful designs.

It may take time and patience to refine the shades and hues of specific colors, so it’s good to test them before selling. As a print-on-demand and dropshipping company, Printful helps you start a home-based t-shirt business and offers the convenience of ordering a few samples. This way, you can ensure the colors look well both on the computer and in real life.

Don’t shy away from showing your favorite color combinations in action, and start designing your custom t-shirts today. 


By Agnese Zimele on Feb 21, 2024

Agnese Zimele

Guest author

Agnese is a seasoned content specialist with a passion for running and traveling. She discovered her love for writing in high school and has helped multiple brands and individuals craft their stories ever since.

Agnese is a seasoned content specialist with a passion for running and traveling. She discovered her love for writing in high school and has helped multiple brands and individuals craft their stories ever since.