The tie is a staple in any man’s wardrobe. Whether it’s a necktie or a bow tie, a tie can be formal or casual. It’s all about which tie you pick and how you tie it. I am going to show you what to look for in a tie as well as how to tie them. As I have mentioned before, if you are looking for a tie (or any men’s accessories), check out my favorite brand, The Tie Bar.
Jumping right into it, there are a lot of variables when choosing a necktie or a bow tie. You have style, width, material, texture, and pattern/color.
Style: With neckties, the tie can have a normal point at the bottom or cut off flat. Bow ties can be a regular square tip, diamond tipped, and/or reversible.
Width: The width of neckties fluctuates with trends from skinny 1″ ties to giant lobster-bib sized ties at 4″. Current trends are around 2-2.5″ at the widest point. Bow ties usually come in two widths: Regular and Skinny. Regular bow ties will be about 2.5″ tall and skinny bow ties will be about 1.5″ tall.
Material: Ties come in materials like silk, wool, satin, cotton, linen, and polyester. Silk and polyester are the most common.
Texture: Texture can be one of the most interesting but subtle features of a tie. You have can have silk knit, wool knit, herringbone, seersucker, and probably more that I can’t think of.
Pattern: The biggest variable in ties is pattern and color. Solid colors, diagonal stripes, horizontal stripes, geometric patterns, polka dots, plaid, paisley/floral, and last, ties with graphics (please…never…)
Any and all of these can be combined into millions of different ties. So how do you pick?
Really, it comes down to your own style and what you like. I have almost 30 ties, so I almost have some of everything. Personally, I like ties to be on the skinnier end (bow ties included). Most of my ties are about 2″ at their widest point. If you’re just starting out your collection, I like this piece of advice from GQ:
“Keep It Solid. At GQ, we love a vibrantly striped repp tie or a boldly patterned club tie. But you’re not going to see much in the way of dizzying paisleys or loud wallpaper prints. We’re not into ties as conversation pieces. We like a tie that anchors an outfit. When we assemble one of our suit-and-tie stories, we almost always find ourselves reaching for solid or subtly patterned ties. They ground a busy shirt like a plaid or a gingham, and they stand strong against a crisp white or pale pink. They’re fail-safe.”
My advice, try solid ties with texture. These look no different from far away, but close up, they add some real depth. Try a grey wool tie or a black silk knit tie! Some of my favorites from my collection are a blue silk knit tie, a grey and maroon plaid wool tie, and a teal and grey stripped silk tie. Try combinations you wouldn’t think of, and you might be surprised.
Now that you’ve picked a tie, you need to pick a knot. This depends on a few things: type of tie, formality of the situation, spread of your collar, and thickness of your tie.
“Four-In-Hand” - This knot is good for shirts with a narrow collar spread. It produces a small and skinny asymmetrical knot. GQ says this is their favorite all-purpose knot. Depending on the tie, I find that it’s sometimes too long for my body or the knot is too small. If this is the case for you, try a Prince Albert knot. It is the same as the Four-In-Hand but you go around one more time. This will add bulk to the knot and make the tie shorter if you are having trouble with the length.
“Half Windsor” – This is my go-to knot. It’s good for a semi-spread collar, and it’s a step up in formality from the “Four-In-Hand.” It produces a medium-sized symmetrical knot.
“Windsor” - Sometimes called the “Full Windsor” or “Double Windsor,” the Windsor knot is your most formal knot. It’s very large, best for spread collars, and is completely symmetrical. The thicker the material of your tie, the bigger this power-knot is going to be. This is probably my least used knot, but it’s Harvy Specter’s favorite (bonus points if you know what I’m talking about).
“Bow Tie” - The last knot you need to know is the bow tie. Never use a pre-tied bow tie. You’ll look like and feel like a bad ass for knowing how to tie one.
Want to be more casual? Try loosening it up around the neck, unbutton the top button, wear it with jeans, and keep it slim (no power ties).
Now, wear a tie! If you have any questions or have something to say, sound off in the comments. Let me know what you’re favorite tie is!
“Pick it, pair it, knot it, rock it” – Editors of GQ