How To Wear A Tie Right

Photo by JonoMueller 

Ties are amazing accessories, handsome scraps of fabric with the capacity to enhance or hide a man, like so many jewels. The trick to intensifying your style, like the tie itself, is all in the details.

Contrast Colors

When considering a tie, think: how am I going to wear this? Not every color tie works with every skin tone, particularly against a white shirt. Tones similar to your skin coloring must be worn against starkly-contrasting shirts or the tie will lose its effect. Pale-skinned guys, for example, should only wear light-colored ties with dark shirts; the contrast will broaden his chest and highlight his face.

Size Matters

Especially when it comes to wearing ties, size should always be similar. Skinny ties (1″ – 2 1/2″) should be worn by thinner guys, and look best on tall, thin guys. The traditional 1950s style of narrow lapels and shirt collars works best to continue the lean look, but stay away from buttoned-down shirt collars, as these will look like they’re pinching your neck and your tie.

Medium-to-wide ties suit medium-to-husky guys, and look great with traditionally-collared shirts or antique-style club collars with rounded edges—but stay away from shirts with small collars that will make you look, quite literally, like a clown. Ensure the lapels on your suit match, too: broader lapels with broader ties will carry your look and your stature.

Patterns and Prints

Too often, as in so many realms of fashion, designs on ties are made for the sake of ingenuity rather than to truly add to the beauty of the wearer, resulting regrettably in loud, kitschy and over-patterned ties worn by and hiding far too many handsome men.

Unless you’re deliberately trying to draw attention from your face, keep the pattern simple and elegant, and you’ll get lots of use from your ties with a variety of shirt patterns. Small, repetitive and woven designs that accentuate the tie and create a bit of shading are most effective and don’t distract from your face or form.

The exception to this are paisleys, which, by nature, should have big, colourful, full-patterned designs; the small paisleys are a tease and look ridiculous.

Historically, paisley patterns with sheen – originally woven with gold or silver threads – were worn on special occasions and given as gifts, and something of the luxury of those times remains in ties with gold- or silver-coluored threads. Be careful not to wear them with patterned shirts or the tie clashes and gets lost, further detracting from your handsome self.

The Bow, The Ascot, and The Bolo

Please pause before donning these classic ties: though the concepts are great and the looks can be stupendous, too often the wearers look breathtakingly BAD. Too many bow ties are worn are too small, too big, too patterned—or too crooked (let’s change that to “crooked,” since any state of crooked is TOO crooked).

Ascots… oh, how dashing wearers look when they’re worn properly, either tied directly on the neck and tucked into the shirt – several buttons open, please – in the Milan fashion, or more traditionally tied outside the collar and pinned or tucked into a four-button vest; but how disparagingly disappointing they look when wrong.

And perhaps Bruce Springsteen should be the model of the bolo, wearing an ideal size, shape and design for his suit on the album cover of Tunnel of Love.

The trick with a bolo is in the NOTS: not too big, not too gaudy, not too husky (big guys just look bigger), and not too Western (try pairing with a suit and vest).



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