Not much can be said about the venerable necktie that hasn’t yet been said by… well, everyone. This is not only a historical accessory but a crucial addition to every man’s wardrobe. You are blissfully ignorant of how to tie a cravat, or the complexity of a seven-fold tie.
Right. I’ll give you a pass on those two for now—but we’ll eventually reckon with them, along with 12 of the other (far more relevant) types of ties that should be part of your sartorial vocabulary.
The journey starts with the bow tie and ends at the 7-fold tie. Who knows. Who knows, you might learn something along the way.
What you need to know
Over the years, the necktie evolved into a variety of styles. Some, such as the neckerchief were designed to be functional only. Other ties, like the slim tie, are more about style. Regardless of which way you go, you’ll want a solid or patterned tie that’s appropriate for places like work and weddings.
The bow tie, as we know it today, has its roots in 17th century Europe. It’s a fussy little piece of fabric, but it’s also a huge statement-maker if you can pull off the look.
The bow tie looks best on a confident man who knows how grab attention and not come across as an overly-serious guy. Weddings. New Year’s Eve parties. In a Southern courthouse, surrounded by Spanish moss-drenched Grand Oaks, you’re giving your closing argument. I’ll also accept “Less specific occasions.” The best bow ties are the ones that you’ll get the most mileage out of based on your lifestyle. Lanvin makes a solid pre-tied silk number that’ll ease right into almost any occasion.
Since decades, skinny ties have been rising and falling with the tide of fashion. They first gained popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s, then came the ‘80s synth-pop style, then came Mad Men. And even though they’ve been on their way out again for a while now, you can easily pull the right fabric and color off with a tailored suit or a pair of jeans. I personally like the chunkier look that knitted Silk has. They’re typically no wider than 2.5 inches and have a standard length. The Tie Bar offers a Pointed Tip Knit Tie that is an excellent entry-level product.
Solid neckties are the most popular. Regardless of the shirt and tie combo you’re going for, you can’t go wrong when you reach for a solid shade of handsome.
Quick word of caution. If you don’t often wear ties and only plan on owning one or two, try to keep it simple without being forgettable. Navy blue and black—sure, those are options, and they certainly deserve a place in your rotation. You can mix it up by varying the type of suit or shirt that you wear with your solid tie. Suitsupply has some stellar options, including a dark red silk tie that’s begging to sidle up next to a navy blazer and a crisp white dress shirt.
Spoiler: The moral of this story is “go nuts.” Patterned ties are not only fun and interesting, they can be an extension of your personality. I’m not suggesting you go full Griswold and stockpile themed ties for every holiday and occasion, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to match the color palette to the season. Here’s the Tie Bar with your next Easter brunch tie.
Pastels for spring? Obviously. Summer prints that are tactfully offensive? You can do it. What about some moody and sexy colors for the fall and winter? There’s no wrong turn here.
Attention, Boy Scouts of America! Steel your nerves. Many people now wear your prized neckerchief. Many different ways. Be strong.
Everyone else, the neckerchief is out there, and you either care or you don’t. But since you’re here, I’ll assume the former is true. Cowboys made neckerchiefs of whatever they could find to shield their faces from dirt, dust and the sun.
But since you’re you, a person who is probably not a cowboy, I’d suggest something more along the lines of Billy Reid’s Pelican Bandana. It’s oh so charming and speaks to its designer’s Alabama roots in a way your archery merit badge wouldn’t dare.
I’m here to talk about all the different types of ties available to you today. Clip-on ties are one of these. We’re going to talk about clip-ons. They’re fully tied ties replete with clips that easily attach to your collar, creating the illusion of a standard tie.
Although I do not personally recommend clip-on neckties to anyone older than the age of 5, they are available. And if they’re your thing, a nice Jacob Alexander option should do just fine. But honestly, they’re not without their conveniences. Prom is a good example. No one will know. Have you been invited at the last minute to a formal work event and, oh, you’ve never learned to tie a tiara? Clip-ons are the solution.
Even better, learn to tie a tiara.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Western bow tie, the bolo is also a proud card-carrying member of what I’m affectionately calling the Texas Revival Chic Movement. But unlike the Western or other super-specific types of men’s ties, it’s not as hard to pull this look off.
If you want to go for the full top-button look, choose a piece like the Saffiano Leather Bolo by Prada. Or opt for a playful clasp with the tie and let it hang loosely around your neck. It’s a versatile look that exudes confidence and pairs nicely with or without collars.
The ascot, which is not to be mistaken with the cravat or a formal tie, rests beneath a collared top and above an undershirt. If you’re reading this because you’re genuinely interested in learning about and procuring an ascot, congratulations. You not only know yourself, but you’re comfortable enough in your own skin to… wear an ascot.
Keep it simple and casual. Wear your ascot loose, and don’t overthink it. Go for a playful paisley like this silk tie from heritage British shirt-maker Turnbull & Asser.
What was I doing? The Western bow tie. Short of being around the necks of Colonel Sanders, Spaghetti Western protagonists, and hipster country singers, there’s not much use for this fella in modern society. Regardless, Western Bow Ties—sometimes also referred to as Southern bow ties and string ties—make for good Halloween costume accessories. Amazon offers a cheap option in 21 different colors.
Originally worn in the 1600s by Croat soldiers during the Thirty Years’ War, the cravat errs on the unnecessarily formal side and has yet to experience a resurgence in the way that, say, bolo or skinny ties have. That said, a properly paired paisley or polka-dot cravat can look outstanding when worn with purpose and—say it with me—confidence.
Cravat Club’s Silvano offers a subtly elegant look that doesn’t take expert-level style to pull off. If you choose to wear a cravat, make sure it is a part of your collection and not your default. If that wasn’t obvious enough, let’s face it, we all need a little reminder every now and again.
This one’s a doozy. The kipper comes in loud and sometimes obnoxious designs. It is usually super wide. The kipper was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. It has had a few revivals over the years.
It’s a specific look likely best suited to Harry Styles-y pop stars and period-piece movies. You can do it if you want to. I wouldn’t recommend spending much, especially since you’re probably buying it for a Halloween costume or theme party.
A sailor’s necktie isn’t so much a tie as it is a neckerchief that’s secured in a very storied, very specific way. The square knot has been used to tie the garment for many years by Navy Sailors.
As far as you’re concerned, it’s probably best to admire and respect this one from a distance, leaning instead into the neckerchief and its workwear aesthetic. If you must.
The hunting stock tie is a very interesting and stout accessory. Equestrians of yore (sidebar, I’m so glad I just had an excuse to say “yore”) used them not only as potential tourniquets should they or the horse get injured but also to keep rain and other elements from penetrating their gear.
Today, it’s more of a uniform than anything, and many riders prefer pre-tied options. And at risk of burying the lede, women have historically worn stock ties while men have worn “traditional” ties. That said, raise your hand if you’re a fox hunter or professional show-jumper.
Right. Crickets. This can be worn as a neckerchief, ascot or even as an ascot.
The 7-fold necktie is as luxurious as its name suggests. A skilled tailor folds a piece of fabric (typically, silk) seven times in order to create a thick and weighty necktie. This is a special item.
And you deserve it.
Turnbull & Asser produces a luxurious silk 7-fold tie that looks as magnificent as it feels. Of all the types of ties we’ve talked about so far, this one represents expert-level play. You should be lucky to have this tie in your collection. It has everything from the perfect dimple on the neckline, to the significance of the tip.
Innumerable types of ties, from the ancient times to today, have been crowned and dethroned. The best ties for you and your budget are the brands that best suit your style and lifestyle.
We seem to be stuck in the mud of the tie trend without being able to make a definitive declaration. The skinny tie is way too skinny. The kipper’s too Harry Styles. It could simply be that the medium-width, solid-colored tie is the perfect tie to wear for any occasion. Have fun wrapping your head around that—or better yet, just do what feels right.
Some men wear ties at work, to social events, or for happy hours. At least have a few ties of medium width in solid colors, and some conservatively patterned ties.
There are many ways to tie a necktie, from the Windsor knot to the Trinity. The Four-in Hand knot is one of the most versatile and popular methods. The wide end of the tie should be on your right. Drag the wide end under the small end and drape it over your neck. Then cross the wide part over again across the front, and then up to the neck loop. Then, tighten the knot by pulling it through your new loop.