We’ve been off talking about fashion vis-a-vis films, the quirks of football, and so on, for a while. Well, it’s time to go back to our roots, and talk about the intricacies of one of our favorite subjects: ties! We’ve been thinking about ties more than usual lately, especially since we’re involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society right now, selling special red ties featuring the LLS’s logo embroidered on the tip at $195 each, with $50 of each sale going back to the LLS. And they happen to be available right now in both our Long Island and Naples showrooms! Be sure to drop by and pick one up, or give us a call to order one.
You know why we’re thinking about ties, but what, someone might ask, could one possibly be thinking about ties so much? Ties are just ties, right? Well, not really. Ties are deceptively simple. After all, it’s just a strip of fabric around your neck. But there really is no end to the little details and slight alterations to the basic tie formula one can find out there, and believe it or not, the right tie can make a suit, while the wrong tie can completely destroy it. Let’s go over some of those fine details…
This is the obvious one. The first thing you’ll notice on a tie rack, after the colors, are the patterns. There are an insane number of them, but here are the principal ones…
- Solids: Versatile and simultaneously daring and conservative. Dark solids go well with solid suits, patterned jackets, and shirts. Basically, the go-to tie pattern.
- Reps or Stripes: Stripes usually show up diagonally, and are pretty much the “safe business tie.” Order, dependability and trustworthiness are the name of the game here, though boldly colored stripes can be a subtle way of saying “look at me” more strongly. You can pull one of these off with a striped shirt, but you have to carefully compare the stripe pattern of the shirt with the tie, and make sure they don’t clash. Shorter people should avoid horizontal stripes at all costs!
- Checks or Plaids: Usually made of wool, and traditionally seen as casualwear, they go well with tweed or herringbone patterns in flannel or summer jackets. Plaids are never, ever worn with a pin-striped suit.
- Foulards or Ivy League: Very popular right now, these ties repeat a small, usually subtle motif of some sort all over the tie, from top to bottom. From the basic polka dots (the smaller the dot, the more formal the tie) to neat patterns of basic shapes, there’s an endless supply of things one can do here. They can be formal, casual, and everything in-between, depending on the pattern.
- Clubs: Associated with particular sports clubs or other associations, these ties feature little golfers, animals, vehicles, shields and swords, and so on. Really only meant to be worn at a club that matches the theme, unless one is going for some sort of sarcastic irony.
- Florals and Abstracts: Debonair and stylish, they are not nearly as rigid or formal as the other main patterns . Paisley is a perfect example of a floral that is attractive, daring, and understated and formal at the same time.
- Neat: Usually small, tight patterns woven into the tie fabric, geometric or otherwise. A good standard tie to wear when you’re tired of the solids.
When picking a tie for a suit or sport coat, the patterns and the colors are the most important part of the decision. You want to make sure everything works together. It doesn’t always have to be a perfect match, but as long as colors and patterns compliment each other, you should be good to go!
With solid suits: it’s almost a free-for-all. You can bring in almost any tie pattern you’d like here. You only need to consider what style of shirt to wear with it. Plain suit? Easy to pick a tie there, you can wear anything. Striped? You want to go with any patterned tie except striped, unless the width of the stripes on the tie is vastly different from the width of the stripes on the shirt. With pinstriped suits, if you want a striped tie, the width of the stripes on the suit and the tie should never be the same. Very narrow striped ties will work on a wide, pinstriped suit. When in doubt, go with any other patterned tie, like neats, paisleys, polka dots, et cetera. With plaid or window paned suits, you could always go bold with a plaid on plaid tie/suit combo, but this isn’t for everyone. Stripes will always work with a plaid suit, as well as solids, solid textured ties, or small, neat patterns.
Don’t forget to work patterns with colors!
Standard width for ties is 3.5″ (roughly 9cm), and that’s always classic, and will never be out of style. You can make a small or a big knot with it. Standard width ties, no matter the type, should always have a dimple formed in the tie just below the knot. We’re talking about a classic look here, worn with all types of suits, and all body builds.
The skinny tie is more of a fashion trend, and most popularly seen with very slim fitting suits, and very leanly built men. That is not to say that these suits and men should only use skinny ties. Rarely will you see a football player wearing a skinny tie. With skinny knots, you will not get the big double Windsor knot, and most likely will not get a dimple in the tie. It will just be rounded below the knot.
The tie’s job is to tie (ha!) all parts of the outfit together. If you want, though, you can make it more of a statement piece, as long as you don’t look like a refugee from a Tim Burton movie.
What happens when you don’t take our advice.
There should be similar, if not the same, coloring of the suit in some part of the tie coloring. This could be the whole tie, or only small hints. Once you get this, then you want to bring in colors of the shirt, and then any other colors that will compliment the outfit. For example, a navy suit with a white shirt will look great with a tie that might have navy, blue & yellow coloring, or navy & lavender coloring. If you want more of a bold fashion look, go with a color that compliments the suit color, but doesn’t have any of the suit coloring in it. We at Joseph’s don’t favor a tie that matches the shirt, and has none of the suit coloring in it.
After tying the knot, the tip of the tie should come to the middle of your belt buckle. Guys 6’2″ and over might want to look into extra long ties.
Our advice on pocket squares is to match the shirt, OR bring in tons of complimentary colors that will create a distinctive look with the outfit. Most men match their pocket square with their tie pattern. We do not do this, and don’t recommend it!
Bowties are a great look with a suit, a sport coat, or a tuxedo. Mostly seen worn with tuxes, lately, fashion trends call for bowties with everything. All different shapes, sizes and patterns. The same rules apply with bowties that apply with ties.
To wrap all of this information up, our founder and owner, Joey Wendt, had this to say on the subject: “Never underestimate the power that a tie or bowtie can have on an outfit. Have some fun, go bold, and make what may be a conservative look stand out. Your standard navy pinstripe suit, white shirt, and navy diagonal striped tie don’t get noticed.”
These rules are simply what have been the standards for some time, but that’s not to say that ties can’t be used as a fun expression of one’s personality and style. Whether you go for a bold or a conservative style, have fun with your tie selection. Ties are an intricate part of pulling an entire outfit together, and definitely do not go unnoticed if you do it right!