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How to Select the Perfect Tie

Selecting the perfect tie is like selecting the perfect drink. Everyone has different tastes; every scenario brings to the table a fresh set of prerequisites and they’re all complimentary to their accompaniments. But while botching your pick for the perfect martini might leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, clucking up your choice of tie could leave you with egg on your face for the rest of the day.

 

Navigating this road might be daunting, but welcome to the style guide that will get you to the other side.

The Perfect Tie Doesn’t Exi…

 

When selecting which style of tie will be the most appropriate fit for the situation at hand there are a number of key considerations which can help you refine your choices. Style may be in the eye of the beholder but adhering to this handy beginners’ guide will arm you with all the go-to considerations a distinguished gentleman might need.

 

Let’s start by breaking down the tie itself. Elements to look at include the basic size and shape, the fabric, build, weave, design, texture and quality. While a high-quality tie is certainly going to afford you greater versatility then some of the more entry level designs, there is no all-encompassing solution and you will find that tinkering within the parameters outlined above will eventually afford you the perfect selection for any occasion.

 

While you don’t necessarily want to be wearing a polyester skinny tie into the boardroom nor do you really want to wear the silk necktie on a trip to the zoo.

 

Selecting the Best Tie

The best place to start is with the big two questions;

-Where am I going?

-What is the weather doing?

As the handsome gent that read last weeks blog post already knows, generally speaking, the ideal choice of fabric can be pretty comfortably categorised based on the weather or the season.

 

Cool materials like linen and silk for summer and warmer materials like wool for winter. Not that a woollen tie will do much to keep you warm of course, but it will likely be a good accompaniment to the warm outfit you are doubtless already wearing. The thick jackets, the rustic tweeds and cashmere for example.

 

Next question. Where are you going?

 

This one is a bit more broad as it accounts for far more than merely the fabric (although this is also something that should be factored in here).

 

This factors the style, the quality of the make, the colour, the material, the design. Pretty well every aspect of the tie you’d care to account for. One thing you can eliminate if you are happy keeping things traditional is the fabrics that do not align with the weather forecast.

 

Generally, you will find something of a tier system with the fabrics and this is the best time to apply that. Simply put, there are high-end and low-end materials for any weather scenario and it’s a simple matter of mix and match to at least come up with the bones of the choice.

 

Let’s say it’s a nice warm day. The winter picks are eliminated. Now say it’s an important day in the office, a formal occasion. The material choice is now narrowed down substantially. Having defined this choice, the next step will be to inject a little bit of your own personality into the proceedings. For this part I’m afraid it’s time to take the training wheels off and ride free. For some, this will be the easiest step, the rules are much more relaxed here. Think of this as the wild west of the equation.

 

While you would still probably want to avoid wearing a donut or t-rex style tie to a super formal occasion you more or less get to pick whatever you personally like best within the parameters you’ve now set for yourself. That T-rex tie might not be the best pick for a serious business meeting, but it could be perfect for a night on the town or for an outfit of the day. The donut tie might not cut it at most weddings but damned if you wouldn’t cut a sharp figure in that one at the local café.

 

Dress to Impress

While we’re here, venturing out off the beaten track. We might as well get the difficult step out of the way; how to match the perfect tie to your outfit. This step is going to be your most challenging but once you’ve got it nailed down it’s nothing but calm waters ahead.

 

The closest thing the handsome gent can get to a straight up guide here is to learn the basics on how to match colours, how to match materials, what styles go with which outfits, working with the negative space a light coloured shirt creates under a jacket and just how to coordinate the whole style on a general level. Naturally this is a hugely in-depth topic that will probably get its own blog down the line but here are the very basics.

 

Let’s start with an easy one. The colours. There’s a few ways you can attack this. Right off the bat you’re generally going to matching this tie to a dark suit and light shirt. The contrast between these will create a negative space that you’ll want to work with, in fact most people already do this without even thinking. You want your tie to stand out, think of the outfit as the canvas and the tie as a work of art. You want it to stand out. If you have a dark suit, a cream shirt and a cream bow tie, the tie will be done a disservice as it blends with the shirt.

 

Next up, the vibe. Colour psychology is a well-documented phenomenon, again often stumbled upon subconsciously, but what it essentially entails is the reactions seeing certain colours invoke. Blue is a relaxing, cool and collected colour, which is why navy is an absolute essential, more often than not this is an image that pairs with the aesthetic of the whole suit wearing experience. Greens and browns call to mind similar feelings, those of nature, health and calm. Red, orange and yellow are of course energetic, powerful and attention grabbing. Certainly a weapon you would do well to keep in the back pocket. Shades of white, black, gray, cream and so on are generally neutral in this context and serve well as ways to tie an outfit together subtly, without calling attention to themselves. This is why the solid black tie is the ultimate classic. It’s the cherry on the cake, a simple way to finish off your outfit without distracting from it.

 

The next point is a double hitter; what style are you going for and how will your choice of tie play into this? This is where you need to combine all the ideas we’ve gone over so far. If you have a dark, textured suit and want to make a statement? A knitted or wool maroon or red skinny tie might be just the ticket! Feel more like presenting a cool and collected, everything under control look for that big company merger meeting? The navy satin is the way to go.

 

With all of this in mind, let’s just go back to the point that there are no real rules here. This part is about creating your own look and only you can do that. There is no true right or wrong. Never forget there is always a tie to fit the occasion.

 

Mix n’ Match

So, now you have an idea what you need your tie to work with. You’ve got the basics. It’s time to work on the finer points. The bad news is the finer points are endless, the good news is we’ve rounded up the usual suspects here. Consider this the basics of the finer points that should inform your decision-making process;

 

Personalize

This is where your personality is given the time to shine. Where you get to add a little bit of yourself to the outfit. This is where you get to make the call if the dinosaur print is a good idea (it is), if it’s a paisley kind of day or even just when to whip out the bow tie over the skinny. If you’re already following the basics, you can do no wrong here, so just relax and look damn good.

 

Accessorize

While a fine tie certainly does a whole lot to jazz up your outfit. Don’t forget that there is a whole world of other weapons at your disposal. The humble pocket square will definitely add a bit more oomph, but maybe you’re off for a day at the races and the lapel pin might make an appearance. Want that relaxed office cool? An elegant bracelet will add just the right amount of casual sophistication. There’s no better way to celebrate finding the perfect tie than by pairing it with the perfect tie bar. Heck if you’re so inclined you can even bring a nice pair of socks to the table. Metaphorically speaking of course. Don’t put your socks on any tables.

 

Body Type

This point is an oft underappreciated one. But playing to your body type applies to the finishing touches of your wardrobe almost as much as it does when choosing that wardrobe in the first place. If you skew to the shorter end of the spectrum keeping things skinny is your friend. Larger pairs well with larger so the portly gentleman will pull off a classic necktie more easily. The taller gentleman would be wise to invest in a bow. As a general rule you want to try and work in a way that offsets the physical direction you’re leaning in. While again, this is a personal choice and some might choose to play into this. But the general rule is to play against type and accessorize and dress in a way that plays down height if you are especially tall, plays size up if you are on the lanky side and so on.

 

What’s the Situation?

As far as any of the scenarios we’ve explored which leave an open season on your choices, the only strict rule you should adhere to is the appropriateness of the situation. This is much easier than it sounds. Basically keep formal events formal, casual events casual, serious events serious and fun events fun.

 

Look at the event. Is it fun? Yes. Is this a fun tie? Yes. Sorted.

 

Peter Marshall is a legend amongst the men of OTAA. Sharp dressed to a point, only his wit has more edge.
An English gentleman, lover of business and an avid blogger