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How Long Should a Tie Be? (and Other Tie Rules)

how long should a tie be
Image used with permission by copyright holder
When you want to make a positive impression, it’s generally a good call to wear a tie. If you don’t usually mess with neckties, it might take you a few tries to get your tie to the right length. As you’re engaging in this charade, the burning question “How long should a tie be?” might blaze in your mind. Here are a few necktie tips to get you started.

Related: A Guide to Micro-Print Ties

Tie Length

While the high pants, high tie look may have worked for Jimmy Stewart in the mid-20th century, you don’t really see it much anymore. Fortunately, nailing the proper tie length is very simple. The tie should just brush the top of your belt buckle (you are wearing a belt right?). Anything longer that and you’ll have “tie-crotch.” Shorter and you’ll look like a kid grown too big for last year’s Sunday best.

tie and lapelTie Width

Few men think about the width of their ties — and even fewer think about how tie width relates to the lapels on their jackets. However, that’s exactly what you should do. The blade of your tie should be approximately the same width as the widest part of your jacket lapel. A wide tie with a skinny lapel or vice-versa turns you into one of those “guess the length of this line” puzzles. So just avoid the mismatch and parallel your tie’s width with your lapels and you’ll be just fine.

Tie Knots

The four-in-hand knot (AKA the only one you know how to tie) is the simplest and most common. Good for everywhere from work to an upscale dinner, this knot is the jack-of-all trades of the cravat world. For a little more formality, go for the Half-Windsor, which is slightly larger than the four-in-hand but not as massive as the Windsor. If you want to go the whole hog, and have a shirt with a spread or cutaway collar, you can opt for the Windsor knot. Windsor knots work for only the stuffiest of occasions and require a tie about an inch longer than normal, due to the high-volume knot.

Tie and Shirt Pattern

shirt and tie

Lots of men gnash their teeth in despair when pairing ties and dress shirts. Can you match solid ties with patterned shirts, or vice-versa? How about mixing patterns? Most of the time, you can consider a small-patterned dress shirt as a solid. If the pattern on your tie is the same size as the pattern on your shirt, however, there’s going to be a visual clash, making the whole ensemble look too busy and distracting. That’s not to say you can’t mix a striped tie with a striped shirt. Be bold, but be smart. Take a selfie to make sure you’re not crossing the line from fashionable to faux pas.

Related: The Unspoken Suit Rules You Need to Know

Tie Color

Color is another area in which men struggle. Generally speaking, it’s good to match hints of color in your tie with hints of color in your shirt — but don’t go overboard. You don’t want to pull a Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum scenario and go too matchy. Instead, ask yourself if you want to be bold or understated? Whatever you do, you don’t want your tie to be the first thing people notice when making your grand entrance.

Featured Image Courtesy: Michael Patterson via Flickr

TJ Carter
Former Digital Trends Contributor
TJ Carter wears many hats, both figuratively and literally. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a degree…
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