Question: How do you choose the right tie to match your shirt and suit? Answer: Ask your girlfriend or wife.
Seriously, although women can always offer men excellent advice on how to dress, us guys need to figure out a way to make ourselves presentable without the aid of the fairer, but more knowledgeable sex. Or at least pretend that we can.
You may have been just a youngster when your dad first showed you how to knot a necktie, although he might not have clearly explained why you need to wear a tie in the first place. Neckties have been used for centuries and are considered the “must have” ornamentation to go with your business or formal look. Even in these days of casual dressing, you’ll need to attend a dress up event from time to time, requiring you to don a suit, pull out your very best dress shirt and select the right tie to match. Yes, nice looking dress shoes are a must too, but then matching a necktie has little to do with your footwear.
Let’s take a look at the best way to match your necktie with your clothing:
1. Select the right tie – You may have been given multiple ties for your birthday, at Christmas, for Father’s Day or for some other important event. Unfortunately, most gifted ties don’t take into consideration the clothes that you wear, presenting a hapless mismatch that can only be rectified if you buy a new suit. Otherwise, that gift attire will remain safely in its box and tucked away in your closet.
What your gift giver should have done is asked to see your wardrobe. One look at the suits you wear will reveal the right color choices for a tie, its proportions and a pattern that matches your suit and shirts.
2. A matter of size – Ever notice that tie sizes vary? Some are thin, others are of medium width while still others are wide. It used to be that tie widths changed with fashion trends and, although there is still some truth to this, you can still buy ties of varying sizes.
Quite frankly, you must consider your girth when choosing a tie. A young man of slender build will find suits that tailored to accentuate his form. More than likely his tie will be thin to match his build. Men who are husky will look odd wearing a thin tie. With such a tie, eyes will be drawn to his larger frame while a wider tie will complement that frame. For nearly everyone else, a standard width of approximately three inches wide will do. Skinny ties are as narrow as two inches; all other ties are usually about four inches wide.
3. All about color – Why is it that some men insist on wearing a loud tie? There could be a number of reasons including deciding that the gift given was worth wearing. Or, the individual may prefer a more outlandish look, you know the artsy kind of guy who isn’t comfortable wearing a suit and desperately wants to wear something that offers a contrast besides his running shoes.
Ties should mirror two things: a man’s complexion and the statement he is attempting to make. Men that are fairer in complexion should choose ties of a lower contrast while men of darker complexion can opt for higher contrasts. There is no stereotypical dressing going on here. Instead, such a selection of ties can provide a look that best complement’s a man’s natural colors.
So what about the power red tie you see men of all backgrounds wear? That tie is one that sends a signal, such as: “I am in charge, look at me.” Speakers choose red because this color helps eyes stay focused on him. Such contrasts aren’t for every day, but allow you to send a message when one needs to be sent.
4. Choose a pattern – The jury is out on necktie patterns as the choice here usually is made to amplify individual tastes. However, if your shirt is patterned, you’ll want to contrast that with a plain tie. If your suit is patterned and your shirt is plain, then a patterned tie to match your suit is fine. Just choose a pattern that won’t overpower, selecting subdued colors.
A debate can ensue when you choose a tie with polka dots and match that with a patterned shirt. Here, your discretion is needed — if the shirt pattern is subdued, then the bolder necktie should work. If the shirt has visible patterns, your tie will clash. This also assumes that your suit is plain.
If you’re like me, you’ve already read more about ties than you care to admit. Maybe you’re too proud to ask your favorite lady friend for help or even despair on getting your ties right. The best way to handle this is the next time you buy a suit: ask for help coordinating your shirts and ties with that suit and you’ll be good to go.
Photo courtesy of Richard Styles.