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Choosing The Right Tie Width

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Few modern day decisions are as perplexing as choosing the right tie width.  In this detailed guide, we cover how to choose an appropriate tie width, whether its based on your body frame, type of occasion you are dressing up for, or other salient considerations.

You’re set to strut the town in your swanky new ensemble. Exquisite Dress Shirt. Check. A bespoke suit that looks like you’ve been poured into it. Check. Stunning Oxford Cap Toes to bookend the look. Check. Heck, you even have that sublime silk tie, a design in higher yarn count silk that is truly going to set you apart. You embark on your tie tying journey – a quick 30 second ritual that is paradoxically accompanied with an overwhelming attention to detail, including achieving that perfect dimple infused knot. You’re ready to go, you think to yourself. Until you look down, and realize that your tie looks disproportionately wide. Like an American SUV on the tiny cobblestone backroads of a quaint Italian Village.


Navy & Orange Geometric Foulard Silk Tie | Tie Width

Tie Width is of paramount importance. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Fall River Navy / Orange Foulard Silk Tie.

You measure the tie at its widest point and realize its 3.75 inches. You seem perplexed. That’s a tie width reminiscent of the 80’s / 90’s heyday of Wall Street, and yet, in sheer amazement of the tie’s vibrant color design, decided on a whim to purchase it without really scanning it for its shape and dimensions. Well, that impulsive decision making has come to bite you, and you now have to revert to an older tie that you aren’t particularly interested in.

Which begs the question – What tie width is appropriate? As with all broad stroke questions, the answer requires nuance, as context is of paramount importance. What type of occasion are you dressing up for? What are your body proportions? What type of tie knot are you aiming for? What is the lapel width of your jacket? What season is it? Is this a day or evening setting? In this guide, we will discuss the key considerations in choosing the right tie width for you.

Before delving into considerations for your tie width, a brief history of the tie width will provide useful context in assessing the below considerations.

Tie Width History & Evolution

Most sartorialists concur that the origins of the necktie can be traced to the seventeenth century, during the thirty year war in France. King Louis XIII recruited Croatian Mercenaries who wore a piece of cloth around their neck as part of their uniform. These early neckties served both a functional (typing the top of their jackets) & aesthetic, decorative purpose. This version of the cravat spread in prevalence over Europe and become a mainstay for approximately 200 years. The current incarnation of the tie did not emerge until the 1920’s.

Evolution Of Tie

Courtesy of www.bows-n-ties.com

  • The 1920’s were an important decade in the development of men’s ties. A New York Tie maker modernized the pattern cutting of the tie, allowing it to retain its shape after each wearing. This invention resulted in the creation of many new tie knots.
  • During the Art Deco movement of the 1930’s, ties became wider, accompanied by bolder patterns inspired by the aforementioned.
  • The 1950’s were popularized by the rise of the skinny tie – a style specifically designed to flatter tailored clothes at the time.
  • The 1960’s experienced a significant pendulum effect, with 6 inch ties (yes, that isn’t a typo!), named ‘The Kipper’, gaining in popularity.
  • The 1980’s were not defined by any particular width of tie – instead, manufacturers created both extra wide ties, such as ‘The Kipper’, in addition to slimmer ties.
  • The 1990’s saw a reduction of wider tie widths to the 3.75 inch to 4.0 inch range, often incorporating bolder floral & paisley patterns.
  • The turn of the century witnessed a slight further reduction in tie widths to about 3.50 to 3.75 inches, with European designers focusing on re-popularizing the skinny tie.
  • Which brings us to today. Contemporary ties come in an array of widths, cuts, fabrics & patterns. The standard width for ties sits in the 3.25 to 3.5 inch range, with many brands also offering narrower ties to placate those interested in skinnier ties. Additionally, the last ten years has witnessed the resurgence of the knit tie, which adds another dimension to slimmer ties, allowing the wearer to add textural depth to their ensembles.

Body Type

Discerning an appropriate level of tie width is highly contingent on your body type.

For a dapper gentleman with a broader frame and sporting wider jacket lapels (more on that below), we suggest ties in the 3.0 inch to 3.5 inch range, irrespective of occasion, though a 3.5 inch range tie may risk you looking like you walked out of a 1980’s investment bank (don’t think it’s the look most of us are going for, but hey, whatever rocks your boat!).

Navy & Blue Foulard Silk Tie

A conventional tie width perfectly complementing a broader body type. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Georgetown Foulard Navy / Blue Silk Tie.

Conversely, if you are of slimmer build and strutting narrower jacket lapels, you could opt for a 3.0 inch tie, but we truly believe that 3.25 inches is the sweet spot (which, incidentally, is where the large majority of our ties come out to).

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Silk Ties

As you will see below, the type of occasion that you are dressing up for matters as well. A slimmer frame, complemented by narrower lapels at a less formal event, will be perfectly accompanied by a slimmer tie in the 2.25 inch to 2.75 inch range. However, a slimmer frame at a more formal event may warrant a more conventional tie in the 3.0 inch range.

Slim Cotton Tie

A slimmer body type is perfectly complemented by a slim cotton tie. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com

Average or athletic body types are best suited towards tie widths in between those for skinny and broader men, ranging from 2.5 to 3.25 inches. Slimmer ties, such as cotton, linen, or knitted ties, could appear more trendy and casual, while slightly wider ties are best suited for more formal settings.

Navy & Yellow Silk Knit Tie

An athletic body type, strutting a silk knit tie! Featuring The Dark Knot’s Cherry Creek Striped Silk Knit Tie.

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Silk Knit Ties

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Floral Cotton Ties

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Silk Ties

The Dark Knot Tip: Slimmer Men should opt for ties in the 2.25 to 2.75 inch range, though a tie in the 3.0 inch range may be warranted in a more formal capacity. Gentlemen of average or athletic body types should opt for ties anywhere from 2.5 to 3.25 inches.  Broader men should opt for ties in the 3.0 to 3.5 inch range.

As mentioned above, slimmer ties can be worn by larger body types in casual settings, but the degree of slimness should be taken into account (e.g an athletic or broader build man can get away strutting a 2.5 to 2.75 inch slimmer tie, versus a 2.0 inch super skinny tie).

Silk Ties | Ties | Neckties

Jacket Lapel Width

As a corollary to the above, corresponding your tie width to your jacket lapel proportions is extremely important.

Tie Width based on jacket lapels

Courtesy of www.ties.com

Slimmer lapels generally suit (no pun intended) slimmer men, and hence, a narrower tie would work perfectly (2.25 to 2.75 inches).  Conversely, a slimmer man can wear a suit with averaged sized lapels, and hence opt for a tie that is more in line with conventional, yet contemporary trends (3.0 to 3.25 inches).

Average to athletic men can opt for medium sized lapels, and can therefore go with a slimmer tie or something more traditional (2.5 to 3.25 inches).

Broader men are best suited towards jackets with wider lapels, and hence a traditional tie would work best. Conversely, a broader built gentleman could opt for a slightly narrower tie (e.g a 2.5 inch silk knit tie) to a business casual setting.

Type Of Occasion

Looking to dress up for daily work wear, an important presentation or wedding reception? Silk ties, in the 3.0 to 3.5 inch are your best bet. A slightly wider tie denotes a higher level of formality, and silk is seen as the ultimate in sophistication when it comes to neckwear.

Burgundy & Blue Geometric Foulard Silk Tie

A Silk Tie in standard width works best in a more formal capacity such as that all important presentation! Featuring The Dark Knot’s Berkshire Abstract Burgundy Silk Tie.

Dressing up for something more casual, such as an evening out with friends, date night or a summer beach wedding? A slimmer tie adds that perfect sense of refined elegance, allowing you to dress up a more casual ensemble. Adorn that rock hard torso with a linen, cotton or knit tie.

Burgundy Floral Cotton Tie

A slimmer cotton tie is ideal for a casual setting, such as an evening our or date night! Featuring The Dark Knot's Woodmont Floral Burgundy Cotton Tie.

The Dark Knot Tip: Exercising discretion when ascertaining tie width is critical. If you are of broader build, and are dressing for a summer beach wedding, opt for the wider end (2.5 to 2.75 inches) of the range of skinny ties. Conversely, if you are euro-slim – sure, rock up in that 2.0 inch super skinny tie. All while elegantly puffing on a Marlboro red, of course.  

Tie Knot

What kind of tie knot floats your boat? Are you striving for a gorgeous, dimple infused Full Windsor? A wider tie will work best here, with the width of the tie allowing you to tie a larger, symmetrical looking knot (mind, you, length matters here as well).

Full Windsor Knot

A stunning dimple infused, full windsor knot is best worn with a traditional tie width such as 3.25 inches. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Newton Abstract Grey & Silver Silk Tie.

Are you looking for a casual dapper look, where you are pimping out a less formal ensemble? A skinnier tie such as a cotton, linen or knit tie will do the trick, as not only do they offer a more relaxed vibe, they also tend to look proportionately better with a four in hand knot.

Four In Hand Knot | Burgundy Polka Dot Knit Tie

A four in hand knot, best worn in a more casual setting, is tied perfectly with this slimmer knitted polka dot tie!

What about something in between? Looking to make a formal statement, but want to look slightly dressed down. A slimmer silk tie in a four in hand or half windsor knot will have you adding panache, without sprinkling on all of the extra, unnecessary pomp.

Black & Pink Plaid Skinny Silk Tie

A slimmer silk tie (2.5 inches), tied with a four in hand knot, is ideal for dressing up without looking overtly formal! Featuring The Dark Knot’s Chester Plaid Black Skinny Silk Tie.

Necktie Fabrics

Fabric variation is another great way to introduce skinny / slimmer ties into your ensembles when dressing more casual. Business casual settings, such as a cocktail reception, could warrant the use of a knitted tie, which typically come in at 2.5 inches or under. With square bottoms and a textured finish, knit ties are the perfect way to dress up a more casual ensemble, without planting a foot into formal land.

Navy & Green Knit Tie

Slimmer Knit Ties work perfectly in a business casual setting. Featuring The Dark Knot’s Rockland Stripes Silk Knit Tie.

Other alternatives include skinny cotton or linen ties, which are ideal for those breezy spring / summer settings such as a beach wedding, country club cocktail party or your next Kentucky Derby meet!

Knitted Ties | Silk Knit Ties

Seasonality

In conjunction with fabric selection, your tie width can vary according to both occasion and season. More casual settings such as a summer beach wedding can easily warrant a slimmer linen or cotton tie, in addition to the possibility of strutting a knitted tie, which are typically 2.5 inches or less.

Slim Floral Cotton Tie

A slimmer floral cotton tie works perfectly in a summer setting! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com

Fall & Winter Seasons are often accompanied by more formal wear, and hence, a traditional tie width at 3.0 to 3.25 inches would work perfectly. With that being said, knitted ties, which tend to be slimmer, are ideal for layering your fall & winter ensembles – as they help inject much needed textural variation into your attire!

Summary

Ok, so that was a ton of information to digest regarding what tie width to strut. To recap:

  • Slimmer Ties (2.25 to 2.75 inches) best suit slimmer men, while wider ties best suit men of broader build (3.25 to 2.5 inches). Athletic men can opt for either, and can generally go for ties in the 2.5 to 3.25 inches range.
  • Your tie width should be somewhat proportionate to your jacket lapels. Of course, there is nuance to this, and hence, context matters. Skinnier men in a slimmer suit and subsequent narrower lapels can opt for a slimmer tie, but in a more formal setting, may opt for a slightly wider tie with a suit jacket that has slightly wider lapels. Broader men can opt for wider ties that correspond to wider jacket lapels. Proportion matters!
  • Wider Ties look best in more formal settings (as a general rule of thumb), where as slimmer ties are great to dress up a more casual ensemble (e.g a cotton, linen or knit tie at a summertime beach wedding or the Kentucky Derby!)
  • Looking for an incredible, full windsor knot? Go for a wider tie. Slimmer ties work best with a four in hand, or at most, a half windsor knot.
  • Silk Ties can come in conventional or slimmer widths, but the are best known for being available in the standard 3.25 to 3.5 inches range. Slimmer ties are generally offered in alternative fabrics such as linen, cotton or a knitted finish.
  • Seasonality matters. While silk can be worn year round, linen and cotton ties, which are generally slimmer, are best reserved for spring & summer months. Additionally, knit ties, which tend to be slimmer, can be worn year round, and help inject textural variation into your attire during colder months!

And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it!

 

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Choosing The Right Tie Width
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