Ties – How to choose the right one!

Regardless of whether it’s for a normal day at work or a friend’s wedding: Some people always make basic mistakes when wearing a tie. Tying a tie is not as easy as it seems!

Observing the people passing us by on a daily basis, one can discern the subtle differences of their outfits and the impact it has.  Even with similar clothing elements, one gentleman can appear elegant and respectable while the other guy looks like a disgraced lawyer who is on the brink of bankruptcy (think of “Better Call Saul”).

To avoid giving the impression of the latter, we have compiled a few basic guidelines on how to wear a tie properly like a real gentleman:

  • How wide should my tie be
  • What is the right length for wearing a tie
  • Which colours should my tie have
  • Which material should I choose for my tie

Width

The width of a tie can range between 5 to 15cm (2 to 6 inches) and the prevalent fashion trends usually determine the perfect width .  In Europe, the current trend is to wear narrow ties while this is not as prominent in Asia and the US, where one can still find broader ties.

However, don’t feel obliged to wear narrow ties, just because it’s the current trend!  The width of a tie should cater to the height and build of the individual and the suit he’s wearing.  A gentleman with broad shoulders would tend to wear a wider tie and vice versa for a man with a slim build, especially when wearing a fitted shirt as well.  Unfortunately, one can easily spot those who don’t stick to this simple rule.

Length

Apart from the width, there is a second basic rule which one needs to adhere to when wearing a tie.  Most standard ties have a length of 150cm (4’11”), which are suitable for men up to a height of 195cm (6’5”). There are two simple rules one needs to remember:

  1. When standing upright, the tie should end between the upper edge of the belt/waistband and 1cm (0.4”) from it.
  2. The tail of the tie (narrow end that hangs behind the larger end when knotted) should not be visible and needs to disappear behind the front of the tie.

Even though all this sounds very easy, it does take some time to adapt the tie to one’s build.  As such, the place of the tie knot is of equal importance as the type of knot in determining the length of the tie.  For example, a more complex knot (e.g. a double Windsor) would use more material, hence shortening the length of the tie.
I am of a rather short stature and would need to pay extra attention so that the tail of the tie doesn’t become visible.  When tying a new tie for the first time, I would mark the position of the knot on the neck of the tie and adjust this anchor position bit by bit to arrive at the desired length.

Colour and Pattern

When wearing a plain suit with a white shirt, the gentleman is encouraged to try more colourful option for the accessories.

For the more conservative men, a navy or wine-red tie is always very elegant, even without complicated patterns.  Black is also often the colour of choice, although there’s an increased risk of ending up looking like a funeral guest or waiter at a restaurant…

Material

Most high-quality ties are made from 100% silk these days.  The subtle sheen of the silk, which exudes elegance, is further emphasised through simple colours and patterns.  A pure silk tie is also soft to the touch and contrasts well with a cotton shirt. A satin-silk tie is especially stylish, as the weave reveals a glossy surface, appearing even more glamourous.

Red Grid Tie Suit

Many shops also sell polyester ties which are more suited to certain professions, such as security guards and bus drivers, which are more durable and do not require that level of elegance but are also much cheaper.  There are also cotton and knitted ties which represent a short-lived fashion trend, similar to the leather tie in the 70s, which is neither modern nor elegant.