Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How Wide Is Your Tie?

A common faux-pas that many men make when wearing a tie is not keeping to the correct width.  A number of guys grab their ties from the fathers or other sources that tend to be older and styled for a different period and generally, just do not look good.


The general rules of tie sizing are as follows:

  1. Your tie's width should be about the width of your lapel.
  2. Collar size should correlate with tie width and knot size.
  3. The tip of the tie should come down to the top of your belt.
While these rules are great, they aren't set in stone.  Another aspect of tie sizing that you should consider which often gets overlooked, is your body type.


I'll start with the skinny guys.  If you are very slender or skinny you really want to avoid the super wide ties.  Proportionally the ties will not fit with your build  and will make you look like a little kid who grabbed one of his dad's ties.  Generally, this fits with rule number one from above.  If you are skinny, you will already be wearing a smaller sized suit and most likely a slim fitting suit, both of which lend to smaller sized lapels.  A standard sized tie is typically pretty wide at 3 inches or more, so you're best bet is going with a slim tie.  Slim ties (not skinny) usually are in the 2-2.5 inches range and will balance better with your body type.  If you wear a jacket with very wide lapel, you can wear a wider tie, but still avoid anything too oversized.  The picture below is a good example of tie sizing with very wide lapels.  


For smaller guys, skinny ties are definitely an option, albeit a more fashion-forward one.  I wouldn't wear one to a business meeting or court appearance, but for a night out it is my favorite option.  You will get the sleek style of the suit, but avoid being labeled as just another "suit."

If you have a more muscular build, wide shoulders or you are generally just a larger guy, look into the standard sized which is about 3-3.5 inch ties.  This wider tie will be better proportioned for a bulkier body and with the added size towards the bottom of the tie, it will balance out broader shoulders and big upper bodies as well.  This is really the most basic and conservative style for this body type.  A slim tie is definitely still an option, just try to play around with both and see which fits your body better.  Skinny ties are probably better left alone because they will most likely look way too small on a bigger guy and accentuate a wider waist.  A bigger guy wearing a slim tie will follow similar proportions as a skinny guy wearing a skinny tie and should still look good.


Overkill.  See the next paragraph.

Finally, time to address rule number two.  Collar width should correspond to tie size.  If you have a wide tie, you want to go with a semi-spread or spread collar.  These shirt types will be able to accommodate the large knot that comes with big ties and will balance out.  For a slim tie, the widest you can go is probably a semi-spread collar, but even that can be a stretch.  Look for a straight-point collar that will be appropriate size-wise for slimmer ties.  It should be easy to see if a collar is the correct width when you know the width of the tie and the size of the knot you are going to use.  Just make sure the tie adequately covers the space between the collar and isn't bulging out of it and you should be fine.

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