Choosing the Right Tie

Man and woman choosing a new tie
“I’ve got an important function and I need to dress up my look with a tie. The trouble is, I can’t figure out which tie to use. And speaking of looks, what is the best look to go with? You’ve seen prepackaged shirt and tie combinations that look nice, but can you only wear the tie that comes with the shirt or can you wear them with other shirts and ties? I’ve also seen the shirts and ties packaged together that are the same color. Is that the in thing or is it something that’s done for a specific reason? And what the heck is a ‘Power Tie’?”
You may have found yourself in a situation like the one above. You need to look nice, and you know you’re expected to wear a tie, but you haven’t got a lot of experience in knowing what looks good. Making a good impression is important and choosing the wrong tie can only hurt your image.
Basics on how to combine shirts and ties:
The necktie has been a staple for men in the executive field for centuries. This added adornment evolved from the use of scarves as fashionable accessories by those members of the nobility and higher echelons of social class. Today’s more relaxed business atmosphere has lessened the call for neckties in many places, and that, coupled with the ever-changing fashion trends can leave you a little bewildered when it comes time to “dress-up” a bit more.
Many men inherit neckties from fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc. And if you look at a collection of neckties from varying generations you will see just how varied they can be. There are super skinny ties from the 80’s, or the super-wide ties of the 60’s and 70’s. There are striped ties, patterned ties, solid ties, ties made of wool, or of silk, or of polyester, and even those knit ties like they wore in “Miami Vice” (a wildly-popular television show in the 1980’s in the U.S.).
So, how do you know which tie to wear with which shirt? The answer isn’t cut and dried, but the rules are pretty simple once you learn them:
1. Think of the setting: Where you are going to wear the tie is paramount to your decision. You wouldn’t necessarily wear the same tie to a dinner date that you would to a job interview. More social and casual settings allow you to be more creative and adventurous, while most business functions call for more traditional and professional looks. You don’t want to wear that “fish tie” your cousin Vernon gave you to a job interview, even if you are an avid fisherman.
2. Color Counts: There are colors that don’t go together. You don’t want to wear that lime green shirt with a purple and white striped tie. Use your color wheel and match your colors properly. Remember the complementary colors and that these colors go together because they accentuate one another.
3. Seasonal Modifications: The color palettes that are appropriate in winter aren’t the same as those in summer. Save your pastels and pale shades for those warmer days and the richer, jewel tones for autumn and winter months.
4. Don’t Mix Your Patterns: Ties with bold or flashy patterns can make a real impact on your look, but you don’t want to couple them with a shirt that has stripes or a pattern. A striped shirt and a striped tie, or a checked shirt with a paisley tie can just be downright painful to look at. There are always exceptions, but unless you’re confident the patterns will match, play it safe and stick to only one pattern or type of stripe.
Types of Ties and Looks:
You can actually classify your ties into categories that can help you understand what looks are appropriate. The basic groups are thus:
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