I hadn’t really seen the trouble with ties until it was time to ring in the New Year. The mash-ups I saw that night inspired me to make my own New Year’s Style Resolution: Help every guy I run into fine tune their style, starting with the little things. Beginning with: how best to wear a tie with a dress shirt. That’s because 1) the combo is very prevalent, even for guys my age and b) it can be somewhat challenging to do well.
There are so many fabrics, patterns and colors to choose from for both elements…you’re just jumping into a sea of confusion. I get it. So I’ve decided to put together a quick list of tie/shirt rules to make it easier for you guys to look good. Here’s what you need to know:
I’ve seen a few that stop midway down the shirt, and it just doesn’t look quite right. It may seem like it hangs low and gets in the way, swinging around all willy-nilly, in which case you should definitely consider getting a tie clip. You should consider this anyway, just because it looks good.
See that last button? You shouldn’t. But the guy on the right has got it right, and he’s got the girl!
Just because it has buttons doesn’t mean you can wear a tie. Flannel shirts (in the Nirvana sense) have soft collars, which don’t stay in place like the stiffer collars of dress shirts. And if you do find a nice, slimmer cut of a flannel that mimics a dress shirt, I think you will look just fine with or without a tie. Like a beautiful lumberjack.
Abandon the formal neckwear (left) in favor of the perfect tee (right).
I love mixing and matching patterns, but watch out when it comes to wearing stripes with stripes. You could potentially wear a thin-striped shirt with a wide stripe tie, as long as there is a visible contrast, such as in the colors or direction of the stripes. But definitely feel free to wear stripes with solids, polka dots, plaids and other patterns!
The stripes on left are too close in size, and compete for attention.
The combo on the right from Brooks Brothers has enough variation in the stripe sizes to make it work.
There is something I just love a chambray shirt, but I think it wouldn’t look quite right with a silk tie. A tie in a less formal fabric, like cotton, would make for a more fluid look. A knitted tie is cool and can be used in a casual office setting, but probably not with a formal suit. And that lime green silk tie you wore to prom? I think we all know what to do with that one.
This chambray tie (Tie Bar, $15) would look better with this casual shirt.
…Of course, for you grown-up guys most of these rules may come as no surprise to you, but I think this might prove helpful for the guys my age, in college, where “going out clothes” means jeans, a clean tee and (HOPEFULLY) not your gym sneakers. We live in a bubble of our peers who agree that there isn’t any occasion where you can’t wear sweats, UGG boots and/or something “comfortable,” and we have yet to be thrust into the real world where you have different occasions that require different formalities. I just want to help out my fellow man, man.
Are there any secrets to the world beyond clip-on ties you’re willing to share? Share them in the comments below!