It can be baffling to know when to wear a tie, the type of tie to wear to compliment a suit, and how to tie one. Here are some tips, along with links to videos and diagrams, to help you build your tie-tying confidence.
When Is It Appropriate to Wear a Tie and When Is It Not?
In general, you are safe to opt to wear a tie for formal weddings, court appearances, and most job interviews, especially those for sales, finance, or managerial positions.
One occasion in which it is always better to wear a tie to is a funeral. Once you know how to tie a tie, simple cues from others will tell you whether you are dressed too formally. It’s easier to slip off a tie than to tie one on the spur of the moment.
Putting aside the question of the occasion, Gentleman’s Gazette explains which types of jackets work without a tie (rougher tweeds, sports coats with jeans, more casual shirts.).
Whether or not you opt to wear a tie, you can also add interest below the neck with a pocket square or even a boutonniere. Looking at online search results for “matching neckties with shirts” will deliver some advice and images on finer details of how to wear a tie, like getting bold enough to match tie patterns (foulards, anyone?) with shirt patterns, such as a mini-houndstooth dress shirt, or a more casual chambray shirt. Another consideration when choosing the right tie is to keep in mind that the width of your tie should pretty much match the width of the lapels on your jacket.
Different Types of Ties
It may not be immediately evident that you have a few options besides a standard necktie or even the bow tie. If the event is a bit flexible, you could also consider an ascot or even a bolo. You not only should know how to make a tie coordinate with your outfit but how to select the right type tie for the occasion.
Types of Ties
Standard Necktie The standard necktie is generally between 2¾ and 3¼ inches wide at the widest part, although the width may come and go with the years. Narrower ties suit slimmer builds. Regular ties are normally 58 to 59 inches long, but some measure up to 62 inches in length.
Bow Tie The bow tie is tied with a simple shoelace knot, tied symmetrically so that the two opposite ends form loops. Bow ties are also available as pre-tied bows attached to a sewn band that goes around the neck and clips to secure, as well as clip-on styles without a band.
Ascot The ascot tie is a neckband with wide, pointed wings. Usually made of silk, it’s appropriate for formal morning and daytime events. You can also search for foulards if you are after this dramatic look.
Bolo You don’t need to know how to tie a knot for this neckwear. It’s a simple string or cord with an ornamental slide used with Western wear.
There are different tie knots, but for most occasions, the Half Windsor (also known as a Single Windsor) will do the trick. Here are basic instructions for the most common way to wear a necktie, along with links to videos that make how to tie a tie easy.
How to Tie a Necktie (Start with the Half Windsor Knot)
- Place the tie around your neck. Arrange it so that the wider end is about twice as low as the narrow end.
- Take the wide end and cross it over the narrow end.
- Then run the wide end underneath the narrow end.
- Pull the wide end through the center of the tie looped around your neck. Pull-on the wide end to get the base of the knot tight, without bunching the fabric.
- Hold the base of the knot with two fingers and take the wide end over your fingers and around to the back of the tie.
- Loop through the knot.
- Tighten the knot, pulling the narrow end on the backside to cinch the tie closer to your neck.
Videos are great for learning how to tie a tie step by step. You can also benefit from diagrams that show the process so that you can follow the steps at your own pace. Why not find your favorite diagram and print it out to store with your ties? Start with a simple tie knot, and once you’ve mastered it, you can try out others.
Other Types of Tie Knots
Once you learn the basics of how to tie a knot, you may be inspired to learn some other methods of creating fancy tie knots. There are more than you could imagine, including some little known yet cool tie knots. You can look into these additional styles:
- Kent Knot (simple tying method resulting in a small knot, good for skinny ties)
- Pratt or Shelby Knot (a fair-sized and symmetrical knot, good for shorter ties)
- Nicky Knot (a fairly simple knot that starts with the tie upside down)
- Eldredge Knot (results in a large, complex, woven-looking knot)
- Atlantic Knot (a complex, inverted knot)
- Prince Albert Knot (not too difficult, effectively shortens tie length)
- Christensen Knot (a bit more difficult double-wrap tie with a slightly asymmetrical knot)
- Balthus Knot (a broad and bold knot)
- Victoria Knot (a doable knot that results in a distinct triangle)
- Trinity Knot (starts like a full Windsor but results in a fancy, full knot)
- Van Wijk Knot (a tie-shortening knot that has a different end-look)
We hope you feel more confident in your tie-wearing options with these tips and ready to invest in a few cool ties for special occasions. As you get to be a real connoisseur of fine dressing and the art of ties, you will learn to appreciate small details like perfecting the dimple—the small crevice where the tie inserts into the knot.