Swirls, whirls, flowers, mini fish on a backdrop of sea blue, there’s an endless amount of variety when it comes to neckties and that’s just the patterns. It’s no wonder there’s so much choice when you’ve got a piece of clothing that’s been kicking around for roughly 500 years (in its modern variety at least) and despite its variants, has remained relatively unchanged over that period of time. There’s a whole range of different things to consider when picking out a tie from the color and style to the fabric itself. And that’s only from a visual standpoint, when you start to consider what a specific tie might represent or portray, those two minutes in the morning dedicated to picking out a tie might seem like not enough time.
The workplace has seen the ups and downs of tie wearing, with the iconic piece of attire slipping in and out of fashion over the twentieth century, seeing recurrences in popularity thanks to the likes of the Beetles in the 60’s and pop and rocks icons in the 70’s and 80’s. Ultimately the tie left the twentieth century on a high point; however with the internet boom doing its best to bring more casual attire to the work place, ties faced their biggest threat to date. Some offices became and still are completely tie-less and have made the lack of a piece of clothing become a symbol in of itself.
The fundamentals of picking a tie for the workplace.
A tie can make or break the final outfit and it’s important to realize that a tie is an accessory in your wardrobe (albeit a vital one). A tie helps to tie an outfit together, to compliment your shirt and suit and can either leave a positive impression of the wearer or a negative one. This has no greater impact than within the workplace where a good quality, firmly-tied necktie can offer a mark of confidence and respect.
With this in mind, take everything in this article with consideration to the work setting, your overall outfit and what that outfit might portray about you. The most important thing is to be confident in what you’re wearing, you might look good in a pink shirt and a mauve tie all done up in an eldredge knot but unless you’re confident in your style then it’s better to avoid complications and instead go for something more relaxed.
Picking your tie color
The most likely colours for ties that you’ll see around the workplace are those basic common colours that are easy on the eye such as reds, blues and yellows. Whilst lighter shades of these colours might see wear during the more summery months, for the most part darker shades of the common colours are the staples of the workplace. As previously mentioned, the tie is an accessory and a compliment to your outfit, so anything too stand-offish or too eye-catching usually belongs more in a social setting than within the office. However as always there’s no hard and fast rule to the fine line between bold and garish. That said, for the most part plain black and white ties are best to be avoided and sit at home more in a very formal occasion such as a wedding or funeral. Also take into consideration basic color coordination, compare your outfit to a color wheel and see if you’re committing any cardinal sins.
Depending on where you work you will be able to get away with more or less bold color ties. Although you might have been able to wear your favorite colorful vintage tie at your old job, it doesn’t mean that you’ll feel comfortable wearing it at your new one. Always try to get a feel for the workplace and if you’re at a loss your best bet is to look around and what your colleagues are wearing. If it’s all plain basics then hold off on the novelty neon tie until the Christmas party.
Style and Patterns
Take a look at the shirt you’ll be wearing your tie with, or visualize it if you’re in the store. The rule of thumb is that a bold shirt requires a calm tie, whilst a calm shirt requires a bolder tie. Think of it as if you’re trying to carefully balance your outfit between the weight of your shirt and tie, getting the combination right will defiantly impress. That said, small patterns that are consistently and evenly spaced are more commonly considered business ties, whilst overly bold and creative designs are better suited for a casual setting.
If you’re only going to be choosing from a limited selection, always go for the basics over the creative. Solids, spots, stripes and foulards are classically stylish and rarely look out of place in the office and can easily become your go to patterns for your day to day. If you’re trying to compliment your wardrobe with great looking business ties that are a little less usual, then try a traditional paisley in moderate colours or even a plaid tie (although these work best in the summer months).
Solid Color Ties for Work
The most traditional and most basic style of tie is the solid color. Due to its understated style which draws little attention, this style of tie is ideally suited for a formal occasion but can work wonders with the right shirt in the office. The solid color tie rarely looks out of place around the work place, however due to its formality it can sometimes lend itself more as an interview tie. The great benefit of the solid color tie is within its simplicity which makes it very easy to match with shirts; the main rule is to avoid matching with a same color shirt.
Use a solid tie and keep a very close eye on what is going on with the rest of your outfit; a single solid color tie with no pattern is an invaluable tool for lowering the impact of your other pieces of clothing.
Striped Ties for Work
One step up from the solid color tie on the simplicity scale is the striped tie, which again is fairly easy to match with your shirt as long as it doesn’t have any specific patterns of itself. Usually it’s best to avoid wearing a striped tie if you’re wearing a pinstripe suit for work; the combination will cause competition behind the two pieces of clothing and won’t sit comfortably.
If you’re planning on combining a striped tie with a stripe shirt ensure that the two styles are adequately different so as they don’t blend into each other. For example, when wearing a striped shirt pick out a tie with stripes that are substantially thicker to help contrast and avoid a look that is too “uniform”. For the most part, the striped tie remains a staple of the business world and is defiantly worth picking up.
Spotted Ties for Work
If you’re looking to liven up an otherwise drab work suit or a plain shirt then spotted ties can work wonders for adding not only color but also a to lift your entire outfit. With a range of spots, large spots and pin dots to choose from, be sure to compare against your outfit to ensure that you get the right look. Although the most obvious comparison you can make to your shirt and suit is the actual size of the spots themselves, it is often overlooked that consideration should be made for the spacing of the spots.
As with striped ties, when pairing a spotted tie with that of a similar style shirt ensure that the size differences in pattern are substantially different. Although less common in the work place than the striped tie, the spotted tie is still a great go to choice and can easily become a staple in your work wardrobe.
The texture of a tie is important in making a statement and what stands between a good quality tie and a bad quality tie. The quality of the tie is called its “hand”, the hand is a combination of the properties that make up the tie including the method and the characteristics of the construction and production as well as the quality of the fabric. The combination of these qualities creates a good weight, texture and volume. When you place the tie across your palm the tie will feel good and substantial and thus have a “good hand”.
The vast majority of business ties are made of silk which is the classic and commonly referred to as the best fabric for ties. But with a choice of satin, printed, woven and knitted silk there’s a large difference in the texture that you can achieve. By varying your choice of silk style you can help create a lot of interest and in some scenarios can be almost as important as the pattern.
As always, user discretion is recommended when it comes to picking the right tie for work and if you’re still at a loss, take the time to look around. Your best resources for ideas is on the streets and in the office, look what other people are wearing and see what works and doesn’t work and try to understand why (or just copy those that have it right). Just try to avoid a complete disaster.