Much of men’s fashion is rather understated: neutral or muted tones, single colour suits, and sedate (though stylish) hair. A tie therefore presents an opportunity to add a bit of colour, texture or personality to an outfit, standing out while at the same time bringing an outfit together. With such ability, however, comes great responsibility.
There is a lot more to choosing a tie than simply the colour. The next time you’re facing the selection at the shop or you your wardrobe, consider the following elements. First and foremost, you need to get the width right. With the current fashion in suits and shirts being much more slim-line, ties are similarly getting thinner. Once reasonably fashionable, wide ties are now reserved for politicians, old real estate agents and Jim Carey in The Mask. Unless you’re really rocking the hipster look, you want it slim, not super-skinny – it’s all about balance.
Once you’ve settled on the right width and material, it’s time to get a bit more creative with colour and patterns. When choosing a colour or pattern, be sure that it complements or contracts with your outfit – but never clashes. A navy tie with tiny polka dots can bring interest to a black suit and a charcoal tie can bring definition to red and pink plaid shirt, so don’t be afraid to experiment, but if you flinch when you look in the mirror, bring it back a bit. The right weight, ie wool with wool suit. This in turn will also work in well with the seasons.
Once you’ve chosen the right tie, you’re only half way there – you still need to put it on in a fashionable manner:
• Knot – while there are plenty of tie knots about, the four-in-hand is a good go-to in any situation. Learn this one knot, learn it well, and it’ll serve you for years to come.
• Length – the tip should touch your belt line – and your beltline should sit on your hips, never below.
• Snugness – there’s now a little leeway as to how tight a tie should be around the neck. The not-quite-done up look can be very dashing and handsome – if done right. It’s not for work or weddings, but ideal for nights out with a slim black tie.
When is okay to wear a bowtie?
Once the domain of geeks young and old – from Steve Urkel to NCIS’s Ducky – bowties are now spreading throughout men’s fashion. So when is it appropriate to wear a bowtie?
When it’s self-tied.
If you’re going to rock a bow tie, you have to do it with as much style and commitment possible – and that means bypassing the tacky, lazy pre-tied and clip-on types. Tying a bow tie is not a hard task to master (a couple of YouTube video clips and a bit of practice should do the trick) and once learnt, you can wear your new skill with pride.
When it’s a special event.
And by ‘special event’ we certainly don’t mean only bring the bowtie out for black tie events. We mean don’t overdo it. It’s a little bit like a perfectly aged whiskey – if you only have it on a certain few occasions, you’ll appreciate it more and it’ll mean more. Unless of course, you want to go all the way and be the guy known for his bowtie – in which case, this list probably isn’t for you!
When it’s refined.
The modern bowtie is all about refinement – there’s no clowning about with overly large neckpieces and loud suits, but rather a subtle, yet quirky statement. Pair your bowtie with a muted, well-cut suit and the bowtie will have a much greater effect – without overdoing it.
When it’s creative.
Bowties are just for suits. While keeping in mind the previous advice about refinement, a bowtie can be paired with a handsome cardigan or a nice shirt with jeans on its own. The geek chic of bowties leaves them open for a little bit of experimentation.
When the night’s almost over – and yet still about to begin.
Let’s face it, we’ve all seen an episode of West Wing, an Oscar’s after party, or a James Bond movie, featuring a sauve, well-dressed man in a dress suit with an undone bow tie hanging down casually. They’ve already achieved so much – protected the America people, won an Academy Award, saved the world – but you know they’re going on to do something (or someone) who’ll be so much better than any of those other achievements. We know that we would kill to be that guy – and that, my friends, is why we should all try and wear a bow tie at least once. Just in case this happens.