Tie Buying: The Basics

Ties have been a staple of men’s fashions for just about as long as men’s fashion has existed. In fact, neckware has been used to create a formal look for centuries. But in the modern era, few men – save for those who are extremely fashion conscious or business savvy – know much about ties at all. Look in most guys’ closets and the tie selection will likely be fairly slim – with those on hand mostly having been given as gifts some time in the distant past.

And for many men this status quo is more than adequate for their day-to-day routines. The tragedy is that something as seemingly simple as a stylish tie can make a huge impact both in a man’s personal life and business life. The guy just needs to understand the fundamentals of neckties in order to maximize the potential for this fashion impact.

Sizing a necktie

Most guys simply hang a tie around their neck and if it doesn’t pass below the belt line they figure they are good to go. But ties come in a variety of specific sizes, and knowing these sizes will allow for a more apt neckware purchase.

Four-in-hand – this is a standard necktie that is very versatile. They usually range in length from 55”-60” and oftentimes are made of cotton, linen or a silk synthetic. The fabric is usually segmented on the bias, which allows for the tie to lie flat against the chest.

Six-fold/seven-fold ties – when people think of silk ties, this is usually what comes to mind. A six-fold or seven-fold tie is made by folding squares of silk multiple times. Needless to say, because of the amount of silk used in their manufacture, six-fold and seven-fold ties are some of the most expensive on the market.

Bow ties – while many modern men may feel the bow-tie is a touch antiquated, they still make for a more light-hearted alternative to standard ties. Bow ties come in two basic styles: the typical butterfly and the straight batwing. Obviously bowties are go-to accessories for those more formal occasions where a tuxedo is required.

Deciding on a necktie style

Most guys simply forgo the “style” aspect to neckties and reach for whatever is nearest at hand on the retail rack. But selecting the right necktie based on style doesn’t need to be a time-intensive or complicated process. In fact, there are some simple rules of thumb to complimenting a look with just the right tie.

Solid ties – a solid tie is the most versatile and easiest to coordinate with a suit. And whether the button-up shirt is patterned or white, a single-colored tie will compliment it perfectly. One helpful tip regarding patterned shirts is to select a tie that matches one of the colors in the pattern.

Striped ties – this style of tie is a classic and also works well with white shirts. It can also be worn with a striped shirt, just so long as the colors are compatible and the stripes are of comparable size.

Patterned ties – these follow the same rules as their striped brethren, as polka dots, bold designs and paisley need to work with the right shirt to ensure the look isn’t overwhelming.

These are just a few tips to sizing and selecting the right style of tie. As for proper necktie care, it’s important to always handle them gently, have them regularly cleaned by a professional and store them on a tie hanger.

James Scaggs is the Director of Marketing for ecommerce retail sites Ties.com and Scarves.com, based in Orange County California. Check out Ties.com for a huge selection neckties, bow ties, skinny ties, tie racks, tie bars, and more.