How to Choose a Necktie

Tips for Finding the Perfect Matching Tie

matching-striped-tiesSometimes the choice of a necktie can be a daunting prospect and experience.  Picture it.  Your alarm’s going off, you’ve rolled out of bed, already stepped on the cat you can’t see, because it’s still dark.  And, after throwing on your clothes, you’re confronted with probably the single most important decision of the morning; which tie to wear.

You got your stripes.  You got your polka dots.  You got paisley, and regimental, and tartan.  You, because it’s you, even have various graphical designs.  A bikini woman leaning against a palm tree.  A bull’s head.  Bugs Bunny.  And then, there are the colors to consider.

So, how does one make sense out of all of this?  How do you pick your tie, and not look like a clown?  The simple answer, is that you pick the tie that will match your suit.  That sounds almost too simple to be true, but it is.  But, that means you can’t simply grab for your favorite, or the one your girlfriend gave you, or your favorite color.  No; it all begins with the suit, and complimenting the patterns and colors there.  Fortunately, this can be done in three easy steps.

First:  Consider the pattern.  And the rule of thumb for this is simple; no two articles of clothing should use exactly the same pattern.  This doesn’t mean that your tie can’t have a similar patter to your jacket, say.  If you’re trying to match a pinstriped suit, by all means pursue one of your striped ties.  Just make sure that the sizes of the patterns (in this case the distance between the stripes) is different enough so as to complement each other.

If the patterns are too similar to each other, your ensemble can create an unpleasant illusion of motion to the eye.  Too much pattern flying around can be a bad thing.  All too often, a man will simply reach for a tie with a color that he likes, and ignore the implications of the pattern that is also on the tie.  But, no more!  Now you know better.

Incidentally, solid colored mens ties are considered to be pattern neutral.  Meaning, of course, that they can be paired with any other pattern, and be alright.

Second:  Consider the color.  In order to do this, you must look at your outfit as a whole.  Lay thing out on the bed, and try a few different tie choices.  There is more subjective judgment to this consideration, so, when in doubt, you should trust your first impressions.  Some colors will simply appear to work, while others will not.  Usually the impression of whether or not a tie matches will be immediate; it’ll either look right, or it won’t.  Something that is extremely important to remember, however, is that you don’t want your tie to overpower your outfit.

Your suit is the base, so begin with that, and build on it.  And, when in doubt, ere on the side of subtlety rather than ostentation.  And, if you’re really in doubt, it’s always safe to stick within the bounds of ‘traditional’ business colors; red, blue, black, gold, etc.  Just make sure to keep them not too bright.

Third:  Consider the proportion.  This means the proportion of the tie to your body.  To some extent, this is somewhat less important than the first two factors, but it is still something that a savvy dresser should think about.  In this case, ‘proportion’ can be defined as the width of your necktie.  Most ties have a fairly standard width of about 3.5 inches.  A skinny tie would be any thinner than 3 inches, or so.  While some wider ties can be 3.75 – 4 inches wide.

This exercise is pretty simple; if you’re a tall thin man, you’re going to look pretty good with a skinny tie, while a heavier set man might look a little ridiculous with the same skinny tie.  Take into consideration your height, your weight, and the width of your suit lapels, etc.  And, most importantly, be honest with yourself.

Everyone can tell when you try to force a garment into working when, in fact, it does not.  Confidence comes from knowing you look good, because you know that you’ve played to your strengths.

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