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A guide to men’s ties – Part I

A tie is often the first thing people will notice about a man’s outfit. Some might compliment you on your choice, others might not like it but certainly, no one will fail to notice it. Hence, when it comes to choosing a tie, it’s worth making the effort to put your best foot forward. That includes going for a tie that suits your frame and which of course, complements the shirt and suit it is worn with. In this two-part guide, I’ll be covering all you need to know about ties, including size, proper length, and colour associations.


For the sake of balance, a tie’s width should be proportionate to that of the jacket lapels, which in turn should depend on the size of the wearer’s frame. A big man will look best in a jacket with wider lapels and therefore, a wide tie, whereas narrower lapels and slim ties suit slender men.

Proportion also applies to the size of the knot, which compared to one’s frame should neither look too chunky nor thimble-size. This is often determined by the tie band’s width, with wider ties usually giving bigger knots.


The trickiest part of tying a tie is getting the length right. The tip should just about reach the centre of the belt buckle, give or take a centimetre. Aesthetically, neither shorter nor longer will look good.

When a tie is too long for your height, it will leave too much of the narrow end exposed (the band at the back, when tied). The best way to avoid having so much extra length is to opt for shorter ties. Tucking the narrow band into the shirt tends to look amateurish and the band still shows under a white shirt. 

The alternative to a shorter tie is opting for a fuller knot, such as the Prince Albert, which by using up more of the tie, effectively leaves a shorter back band. Tuck this into the loop sewn onto the back of the wider end for a neat look.


Most men stick to just one tie-knot – the four-in-hand. It’s simple to execute, elegant, and suits most face shapes. And yet, there are over 177,000 possible knots. Regardless of the knot you opt for, a tie should never look too stiff/flat below the knot. 

When fastening the knot, make a dimple just below. This will allow the tie to arch out from the collar thus, adding texture and movement to the tie, making it look less ‘wooden’ 

Final word

Those are the basics of choosing a tie in the right size and wearing it properly. In the next post, I’ll be focusing on colour and pattern, mainly, the associations made with different colours, combining tie, shirt, and suit colours, as well as patterns.

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