Ties are having a major resurgence. Whether you’re going for the preppy look with stripes and navy blazers or you are leaning more toward relaxed sartorial style with a deconstructed jacket and jeans, ties are going to play a major style role in 2020 and beyond.
A tie is often the first thing a person will notice about your look, so choose wisely. Don’t worry. It’s not a difficult style to master.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- How to choose the right tie for your outfit
- How you should wear different types of ties
- How NOT to wear a tie
- 3 key looks featuring a tie that you should master
What we won’t show you here: how to tie a tie. Just Google it.
Read on for answers to your most common tie questions.
How to choose and wear a tie
1. Skinny ties are out. Choose 8 or 9 cm ties.
Anything smaller than 7cm is too skinny and it will look outdated. A 7 cm tie is okay for suits that are quite trim and that have a narrow lapel, but choose an 8 or 9 cm tie for a classic suit.
2. Choose the right tie colour and pattern
Your outfit should only have one statement piece. If you’ve got a bold shirt or suit, make sure your tie is more subdued. If you’ve got a simple suit and a plain shirt, your tie can take centre stage.
A black tie should be reserved for formal events. You can get away with wearing one to the office, but there are better looks to be had, so you may as well switch it up.
Luckily, most suits are either grey or blue, which opens up a whole world of colour possibilities. With a white or light blue dress shirt, you can’t go wrong with most tie colour choices. Once you start venturing into bolder shirt/suit colours, choose a more subtle tie. You can get into colour theory if you really want, but usually your instincts will guide you in the right direction.
Go ahead and mix patterns, but make sure they’re not competing with each other. Change up the size and print so that no two patterns are too similar. For instance, you can wear a butcher stripe shirt and a tie with a microprint, or a microcheck shirt with a wide-striped tie. If you’re still not sure, you’ll never go wrong with a solid tie.
Try not to overthink this step. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with choices and rules, but as long as you don’t have more than one statement piece in your outfit, it’s hard to go wrong.
3. Choose the right fabric
As it is with clothing, so it is with ties. The smoother and simpler the fabric is, the dressier it looks.
Silk ties are appropriate year-round, and depending on the texture and pattern, they can be worn for just about any occasion. For formal events, always choose silk with a sheen to it.
Wool ties can look quite professional and are great for business attire in the cooler months. The more texture it has, the more it tips toward the casual end of the spectrum. Wear them with heavier-weight wool suits.
Cashmere ties have similar properties to a textured wool tie, and can be worn with casual office looks or on date nights in fall and winter. They’re particularly sharp with a tweed sport jacket. Knitted ties are exclusively casual and should not be worn to formal events or to the office.
Linen and cotton ties should be worn in the summer months with relaxed sport jackets and suits.
Nothing ruins a good suit like a bad tie. Avoid cheap synthetic fabrics like polyester, which can have a fake looking shine and will not sit as nicely as a higher quality fabric.
4. The only knot you need: Four in hand
There is only one tie knot you ever need to know: the four in hand. It’s simple, it’s sleek, and it will never go out of style. We aren’t going to teach you how to do it, but there are plenty of resources to be found on Google. We promise it won’t take you long to learn.
5. Tie it so it hits at the right length
Another easy one: The bottom of your tie should land near the middle of your belt or the trouser waistband when you’re standing naturally. If you need to, re-tie it a few times, making note of the length on either side of your tie before you begin so you can remember how to do it in one shot next time.
6. Choose the right pocket square
You don’t always need a pocket square when wearing a tie, but it’s not a bad idea to throw one on if you can. It’s an easy way to add an extra layer of style to your look, especially if you find yourself defaulting to the same suit and tie combos over and over.
Your tie and pocket square should never match, but they should compliment each other. All you need to do is look for similar colours between the two. When in doubt, use a white cotton pocket square.
7. You can wear a suit with no tie, but never wear a tie without a jacket
It’s true that ties are having a major resurgence, but you can wear suits without one and still look quite refined.
If you’re opting for a dress shirt with no tie, make sure your collar is crisp and leave the top two buttons of your shirt unbuttoned. If you button those top two buttons, we WILL call you out on it. You can also wear your suit with a lux polo or a knit crew neck tee.
If you’re not wearing a suit jacket or a blazer, don’t wear a tie. Just don’t do it.
3 Key looks to wear with a tie
1. For casual events
We love a tie worn casually for everything from BBQs with the in-laws or date nights to casual Friday at the office. Choose a relaxed, unlined sport jacket and wear it with a casual sport shirt, jeans and clean, crisp sneakers.
2. For business
If your job requires a suit, you should also be wearing a tie. An easy combo is a navy or grey suit with a subtle check and a solid white or blue shirt. From there, the tie choices are nearly limitless. Silk is a safe choice year-round, but you can try wool or cashmere in the winter or linen in the summer. Avoid knitted ties, which are too casual for the office.
3. For formal events
For formal events, keep it classy with a black or charcoal suit, a white shirt, and a dressy, dark tie. A 100% silk tie will give you the sheen you need to glam it up a bit.
If you’re still not feeling sure about your tie choice, just ask us! Send us a photo or stop in and we can help make sure you’re looking your best.