Gentlemen, it’s time to revisit the ultimate men’s accessory – The tie is one of the few pieces of sartorial arsenal that you have to distinguish yourself and make a statement about your taste, stylistic preferences and even your position in the world. A tie can bring an extra 10 percent to your outfit that makes all the difference, so how about learning some basics before you tie one on.
Length and width of ties – size matters
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to ties. As a general rule, the bottom of your tie shouldn’t extend below your waistline, to avoid taking on phallic overtones. As a guide, the tip of the tie should hit the middle of your belt buckle, however we have seen stylish men wearing their ties on the slightly shorter side – as always, some rules were meant to be broken. If you have a shorter torso, you can let the under blade of the tie (the thinner back portion of the tie) hang a little longer and tuck that into your trousers a la Mr Gianni Agnelli. As for the ideal width of your tie, this really depends on who you talk to, but the principle criterion has always been the tie’s relationship to the jacket lapel – thinner lapel = thinner tie, wider lapel = wider tie. When purchasing ties, to ensure you’ll look sartorially smart for many years to come, opt for a tie with a width measuring between 8cm and 9.5cm at the widest point, as all Philippe Perzi Vienna ties are.
Tie knots – become master of at least one
There are apparently 85 different ways to tie the conventional necktie – you probably only need to master one or two at best. Your tie knot really depends on the shape of the shirt collar. Cutaway and spread collars are the most stylish and elegant, suiting most gents, so a larger knot to fill the gap is the perfect choice, for example a Windsor knot. However, in saying this, the four-in-hand knot, the basic tie knot that every gent should master, is a great go-to tie knot and can be worn successfully with all collar types. Gents should take care not to tighten the tie knot too much but not too little so that it hangs like a ‘dead fish.’ As you become proficient in tying your knot of choice, step away from the mirror and show a little nonchalance by making your knot a little imperfect.
Tie dimple – an important detail
No tie knot is complete without a dimple! If you can manage it, you shouldn’t overlook this little detail. This smallest of pinches in the fabric directly below the tie knot conveys that you care about the details. Some tie fabrics lend themselves to a dimple more easily, like Italian silk. In hand sewn silk ties, the tie’s lining and silk form a ‘memory’ that will assist you in the dimple’s formation the next time you wear it. So – make sure you nail that dimple the first time you knot your tie!
Well-made ties start with the fabric
A key indicator of a well-made tie is if it arcs slightly from the neck when knotted correctly. It’s definitely easier to achieve this with a tie made from the highest quality silk. Using the correct material and weave for a particular tie design is also important: the yarn-dye woven silks for highly detailed motifs and regimental stripes, lighter silks for large patterns to be printed directly onto the cloth and linens and wools for Scottish plaids and to add texture to your winter wardrobe.
Coordinating ties and shirts
Mixing patterns and colours is partly art, partly science. When it comes to choosing shirt and tie combinations that mesh together harmoniously, many men give patterned dress shirts and more elaborately printed ties a wide berth, preferring to play it safe with neutral and solid colours. Check out ourblogs on matching colours and patterns for more detail, but the rule of thumb is that when choosing shirt and tie combinations with two like-patterns, such as a striped shirt and striped tie or a checked shirt and checked tie, ensure the size of the stripes or checks are as different from each other as possible. When selecting shirt and tie combinations with two different patterns, the rules are not so hard and fast. In general, when you have a dress shirt with a dominant pattern, you should select a tie with a design at least equal in scale; otherwise the shirt will overpower the tie. When in doubt about choosing a tie with a prominent pattern to match a shirt with a large or conspicuous pattern, always go for a larger rather than smaller design. Finally, the best shirt and tie combinations are those where the tie repeats a colour found in the shirt or in the suit (especially if you’re wearing plaid, windowpane or tweed).
Ties and pocket squares: Matchy matchy is a no no
Never try to “match” or overly coordinate a tie with a pocket square. This is really an anachronistic affectation and not only shows an unsure dresser, it leads the eye across the body and away from your face. Rather, you should choose a pocket square that harmonises with the tie and ideally should not be of the same colour as the ground shade of the tie. A good tip to effect a stylish and yet natural look is to mate ties and pocket squares of different textures; a silk tie calls for a matte pocket square like linen or cotton. A wool or linen tie is begging for the luster of a silk pocket square. Gents should avoid a look that is too studied or too contrived – but equally pay respect to some basic rules to maintain a classy and elegant look.