Well I just so happen to be african american. So when it comes to colors we are blessed with the ability wear nearly ANY color. Its winter time right now so think miles davis cool and go with browns, greys, blacks and the all powerful purple, purple on our skin tone is classic. However spring time is just around the corner and pastels look great on us too, pinks, light baby purples, and yellows are a good way to go. Dress shirts you have to decide if these are for work? or for a relaxing weekend. IF they are for work then they need to have the button near the collar so that his tie isnt going all about his neck if its for the weekend then it wont have those to secure the tie. If its for the weekend try to get one white, one blue and then experiment with a light light faded pink or purple. Jcrew.com is the best place to start for that. With ties yoiu really need to know him the tie should be slender but not skinny and not be so long that it hands down his crotch it needs to stop before the belt (teach him if he doesn't know already how to tie a double winser, its the knot of knots and has been getting the job done since humphry bogart in the 40's, JFK and Sinatra in the 60's and paul newman and the like in the 70's it never goes out of style). Price doesn't always dictate quality but your probably going to be spending 20-60 on a good quality tie. Again jcrew is a great place to go for ties buy him one really nice tie and then sprinkle in a couple others. Depending on where he works a tie is a great place to show off style, however you never want two loud items put together by that i mean if he's wearing a pink paisley shirt don't pair it with that purple polka dot tie...mix cool with stylish. So if he likes to wear loud aggressive shirts match it with cool calming ties and vice versa. If he doesn't feel as comfortable with anything to wild or loud try your basic Cambridge line from jcrew, they are always classically cool relaxed, the right size and length for most men and safe stylistically. Unless he's a professor stay away from wool ties or anything to thin, if it looks like a pen put it back. Another trick is to match the color of the tie with the socks its just a hit of color and he may be taken back by it at first, but when he starts to get compliments he'll ask for more. Don't start off to wild with this technique i.e. pink tie and pink socks. Start slow. Remember even if YOU like it you aren't wearing make sure its something you will both like, don't shock his system to much just enough so that he's will to try it.