Breaking the Tie

Without performing any apparent function, your tie is, perhaps, the one item of your attire that reveals the most about you. Your tie is your personal signature; it gives you an opportunity for self-expression, individuality and distinctiveness. Your tie is usually the most colorful of all the clothes you wear in business and it is the one item that people remember.

In addition, the tie literally ties together the entire look of a well-dressed man. Therefore, it is the one clothing item that you should select yourself; you may welcome an opinion from your significant other, but be sure that you make the final selection.

Smooth as…

Silk is the basic fabric in all fine neckties because it takes the dye and holds a knot better. The quality and weight of the silk, the interlining and the slipstitching which connects the tie together, all give a tie its distinction. Silk neckties come in two basic styles: smooth and ribbed.

Smooth silk, often called foulard silk, has a smooth finish and is relatively lightweight. It includes the printed silks which come in different patterns from dots and geometrics to florals and conversational.

Ribbed or woven silk, usually much heavier, includes several classifications such as repp silk (used in regimental striped ties), faille silk (used in club ties), raw silk and crepe de Chine (used in dressy ties). Don’t waste your money on synthetic ties; they do not hold a knot well, and they do not look as good or have the luxurious feel of the natural fabrics.

Selection

When selecting ties, the fabric and pattern determine its appropriateness for a particular occasion. The general guideline: Woven silk ties are more formal than printed silk ties; they have a softer hand and are generally richer looking than the printed ones. For the printed ties, the shiny fabrics such as satin are more formal and appropriate for evening wear.

Size Matters

The size of the pattern also affects the level of formality, and the rule is the smaller the pattern, the more formal the tie. . The great variety of tie choices had created grand confusion for business men, and therefore more room to make mistakes. Yes, the size of the tie patterns changes almost every decade.

Today, size for business ties patterns is medium to small, almost microscopic.  Two of these more formal “micro” patterns are the Macclesfield, an open weave with a geometric design in contrasting tones such as gray and burgundy, and the Grenadine, a thin, loosely woven lightweight silk with an almost irregular surface and a design so tiny that it is considered almost a solid. 

How Wide?

The width of the tie should balance the lapels of the suit. To be sure your tie is in balance, hold the wide end of your tie up against the widest part of the jacket lapel. The tie should not be wider than the lapel. It can be narrower, but not too much.

Tie widths change every four to five years and the change is measured only in millimeters. Keeping up with the trend is easy and, likewise, it is easy for everyone to notice that you are wearing your old ties!

Following the Pattern

When selecting tie patterns for business, choose any pattern that has a name such as: repp-tie, foulard, dot, solid or paisley for a business look. Select patterns such as medallion (or a larger foulard), abstract or geometric for a less conservative but still professional look with some flair.

You will always be safe if the size of the pattern is no larger than a quarter. A pattern the size of two quarters is appropriate for the office if the colors are blended. Going beyond the pattern size of three quarters for a tie with bright colors during the daytime is risky business. Abstracts in subtle colors could be large because from a distance they will look like solids.

Avoid birds, faces, turtles, giraffes–anything representational of something that moves or is alive. These are called “conversational” ties and along with florals, faces and cartoon characters should be used for casual events or in the evening only. Please remember, fish ties do not swim in corporate waters!

The Trends

The best way to be certain your ties are up-to-date and to foresee the trends, is to go to the most exclusive men’s store in your area and ask the salesperson to show you some of the most expensive ties. These ties will be an example of the latest trend which will take about a year to come to other manufacturers at more moderate prices.

Make sure your tie stops at the top of your belt line; forego tie clips and tie tacks (the clips are too old fashioned and the tie tack will make a hole in your wonderful tie!). Many hospitality professionals, especially those who work in food and beverage, use tie clips because otherwise their ties dip into food and drinks. The updated solution to this problem is to buy the tie accessory that invisibly holds your tie in place by attaching the tie’s label loop to the shirt through a buttonhole. Ask the salesperson for it; it will solve your problem without distracting from your personal signature!