Top Five Necktie Mistakes
Whether you wear a tie every day or only break them out for special occasions, you should always be conscious of how you’re actually wearing it. Ties can be difficult, especially if you don't wear them often. Here are the top five tie crimes you don't want to be caught breaking.
1. Wearing the Wrong Size Tie
This is a bit of a catchall, but it covers some of the most common issues people have when they start wearing ties. The overall idea is to make sure you have a tie that’s the right length and width for your size.
For length, this means that you should have a tie that gets as close to the top of your belt buckle as possible. Give yourself very little leeway here. If the tie goes past the belt buckle or, even worse, doesn’t reach it at all, you need a different size.
The width of a tie, thankfully, allows for a bit more freedom. Generally, find a size that is comfortable for you, as long as it looks like it fits on your chest properly. For more broad men, consider getting a wider tie. For skinnier men, go the other way. Try on an average sized tie (typically 3- to 3.5-inches) and see how it looks. Then look at sizes about a quarter-inch in the desired direction until you find the perfect width for you. (See our post on tie widths for more help on this subject.)
2. Untuck That Tie
Men tend to tuck in a lot of things when it comes to their appearance. From guts to dress shirts, the general idea is to be as neat as possible. But one thing should never be tucked in: the tie.
If you’re tie is tucked in to your trousers, untuck it immediately. Right now, you’re telling people your tie is too long, and they’re noticing.
There is some debate about the appropriateness of tucking a tie into your shirt. In general, consider it a no-no unless you’re consistently dealing with potentially messy situations. Even then, only do it if you have to. (Unless the only alternative is flipping the tie over your shoulder. Never flip your tie over your shoulder.)
3. Match the Rest of Your Ensemble
Ties are typically one of the most unique parts of your wardrobe, but that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to be the most obvious part. Before you even start the knot, ask yourself how this tie fits in with everything else you’re wearing.
For the most part, this means how it matches with your shirt. You want a combination that complements each other rather than having one overpower the other. If you’re not very good at color matching, check out that section in our first date dressing guide.
Beyond color, you should also make sure your tie (and your outfit as a whole, for that matter) matches the occasion. If you’re working in a formal office, it's probably best to leave the novelty ties at home. If you’re going to a funeral, don’t even think about it. When in doubt, black ties go with just about anything.
4. Dirty Neckties
Neckties are an article of clothing and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, they can also be harder to take care of. Ideally, avoid getting the tie messy all together. (Watch out for meatballs and over-eager soup eating!). But sometimes things just happen. While we do have a guide for cleaning ties, it’s not always possible to salvage.
If you can’t clean a dirty tie, it’s almost always best to get rid of it. It won’t matter how nice your suit is if people are only going to focus on the nicely colored napkin you have tied around your neck. Throwing away a tie can be hard, especially if it’s a favorite, but consider it an opportunity to give a different tie its chance to shine.
5. Not Enough Variety
This might only apply to people who wear ties frequently, but it’s something everyone should be mindful of. Ties are, to some degree, meant to be fun. There is a large selection of knots and an even larger selection of actual ties available to play around with. Your solid blue half-windsor knot looks great, but didn’t you wear it yesterday? And the day before that? You wouldn’t wear the same shirt two days in a row, so why should you wear the same tie or knot?
You shouldn’t feel pressured to wear a new tie or a new knot every single day, but try to mix it up every once in a while. A tie helps represent your personality, so make sure it’s not saying that personality is boring.