Suspenders 101: A Complete Guide to Men’s Suspenders

guide on how to wear suspenders

Suspenders have seen quite the comeback in mens fashion. What was once a necessary clothing item one-hundred years ago, a time when pants had no belt loops, is nowadays a fashion accessory that blends both function with style.

Suspender Materials, Colors, & Patterns:
Just like there are different tie fabrics, suspenders are commonly made from leather silk, synthetics, linen, cotton, and elastics. In addition, they come in any pattern and color. Just like when picking out a tie, you need to keep your outfit and the occasion in mind when choosing a pair of suspenders. Solid and darker colors are most formal, while wild patterns and out-of-the-ordinary materials (leather, linen, and cotton) are better suited for casual wear.

Tips for Buying Suspenders:
Suspenders can range from as little as $10 to several hundreds. While it may not be necessary to spend $200, it does make sense to invest in some higher quality items that will last the test of time. For first time buyers, look for the following 5 criteria:

  1. Connectors: Look for the button attachment style.
  2. Style: For dress, choose Y or X but never H
  3. Material: Choose Jacquard silk, cotton, or elastic fabric. If you opt for silk or cotton, make sure that a section of elastic is added on the back for more comfort.
  4. Color: Choose darker colors that are more versatile such as gray, charcoal, or navy.
  5. Pattern: Keep patterns minimal. Besides solids, monochromatic ribbed texture, tiny pin dots, or monochromatic micro checks are good options.
  6. Size: Make sure you pick your right size (see chart above)

General Dress Rules for Suspenders:
For the most part, suspenders are either attached using metal clips or buttons (see graphic above). Just like a bow tie aficionado will insist that the “self tie bow tie” is the only sartorial acceptable choice, suspender proponents will argue that buttoned suspenders vs clip-ons will differentiate the man from the boy.

If you are unsure that you will like the “suspender look”, I would suggest you try a pair of less expensive suspenders, that are attached using clips first, before investing in a high end piece that requires that not only costs more, but also will require a trip to a tailor to get suspender buttons added to your trousers.

Got any tips, thoughts, and/or suggestions regarding suspenders? Then leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!


Bow Tie 101 – All You Need to Know about Wearing Bow Ties

tips on wearing bow ties

Tying a Bow Tie

If you are one of my regular readers, then chances are you already know how to tie a bow tie. If you don’t, then stop procrastinating, and learn to master this gentlemanly skill. If you prefer classic illustrations then check out my bow tie tying guide. For those of you who don’t like to read, HERE are some awesome GIFs on tying different types of ties – including a bow tie.

Some Notes on Proper Bow Tie Fit

Dressing well is all about mastering proportions correctly. Just like your tie width and collar depth should be in proportion to your lapel size, the width of the bow tie should be in proportion to the width of your face. Ideally the end of the bow tie is in line with the width of your face. It should not extend past your ears, and should not be narrower than the outer point of your eyes.

Finding a Pattern that Suits the Occasion

Bow ties are no longer solely worn at formal, aka “Black Tie“, functions. In fact, bow ties have become hugely popular in the past few year. Bow tie sales in the US have grown 4x faster than the sale of neckties – making up 7% of the total neckwear sales in the US in 2013 (source: Bloomberg)

Because bow ties are now common for everyday wear, they are easy to find in any pattern, shape, fabric, and color combination. When it comes to finding the right pattern, use the general rule that “less is more” as a guidance. The less embellished the pattern, the more formal it will look. For example: If you want a casual bow tie to wear with your seersucker suit and boat shoes, then by all means have fun and sport a bold madras plaid. For more information on neckwear formality, check out this visual guide here

What Days are the Most Bow Ties Worn?

It always surprises me what type of date is available when looking at keyword search traffic on major search engines. When looking at the popular keyword “how to tie a bow tie” it is instantly clear that there are some days that have huge search traffic spikes. The #1 day that has most men dressed in bow ties is New Years Eve, followed by Christmas and Halloween (apparently Pee Wee Herman remains a popular Halloween Costume). National Bow Tie Day, which falls on August 28th, comes in at #5 on the list.

I hope you enjoyed this “bow tie 101” post. As always, your input, comments, and feedback is appreciated. Simply write a comment below and I will do my best to respond within a day or two.

Thanks for reading!


Guide to Striped Neckties

different styles of striped ties

Seriously, who cares about the name of the stripe on your tie? It is true, while the name may not matter a whole lot, and knowing such probably won’t make for a good pick up line either, knowing how to wear a particular stripe does indeed matter. It matters a whole lot in fact simply because certain stripes are better suited for certain occasions and look better with a certain type of dress shirt. To understand when and when not to wear a certain striped tie, here is all you need to know:

Regimental Striped Ties

Key: Ribbed Texture, “Regimental” Colors, Stripe runs bottom left to top right
Best for: Navy Blazers, Tweed Sport Coats, Button Down Collar Shirts
Avoid: When too skinny (under 2.5″), avoid non traditional colors

Repp Striped Ties

Key: Ribbed Texture, Matte Sheen, Stripe runs top left to bottom right
Best for: narrow ties (2.5″ – 3.1″ in width), worn with a tie bar/clip
Avoid: More than 3 colors are present in design

Horizontal Stripes

Key: Stripe runs vertically
Best for: Knitted Ties, Ties with Square Tip
Avoid: Ties wider than 3″

Pencil Stripes

Key: Narrow diagonal stripes, stripes narrower than 1/8″
Best for: Always a great pick
Avoid: When worn with pin striped shirt, more than 2 colors present on the tie

Bar Code Stripe

Key: Lots of narrow stripes in various sizes and colors
Best for: Colorful combinations in Summer and Spring
Avoid: When wearing a striped shirt

Awning Stripes

Key: Stripes spaced evenly apart 1/2 – 1 inch wide
Best for: Summer colors, Pair with narrow striped or tattersall check shirts
Avoid: For formal evening dress

Candy Cane Stripes

Key: 2 colors, stripes 1/8″ – 1/4″ wide and spaced evenly apart
Best for: Strong contrasting color combination on the tie (light and dark)
Avoid: When wearing a striped shirt

Club Striped Ties

Key: Repp stripes with woven crests in between
Best for: Skinny ties and preppy outfits
Avoid: When too bright in color

Monochromatic Striped Ties

Key: Stripe design all in one single color
Best for: Formal events, easy to match to any shirt pattern
Avoid: When not wearing a suit

Other Suggested Articles:
Guide to Check Patterns
Learn the History of the Necktie

Thanks for reading!

Tie Aficionado
Owner of

TOP 10 Tips for a Successful Job Interview

  • #1 Make Eye Contact
    Making eye contact during a job interview shows not only that you are confident, but also interested in what the interviewer has to say. But keep things normal and don't be creepy. Have a friendly demeanor and smile occasionally. People like to be around happy people.
  • #2 - A Good Handshake
    Wait for the interviewer to offer up the hand shake. If s/he does, then reach out and shake hands. Again be normal. Unless you are applying for a position as a blacksmith, don't try to crush someone's hand. Apply the same amount of pressure as you would when holding a beer.
  • #3 Dress to Impress
    Even if the job does not require you to dress in suit and tie, it is better to overdress in for a job interview than showing up too casual. A dark suit, white shirt, and classic tie will always be a good bet. For more tips check out my job interview dress guide
  • #4 - Polish Your Shoes
    Give your black dress shoes some shine before heading to your job interview. Clean and polished shoes gives the impression that you got your life in order! Even if someone may not notice it right away, what they would certainly notice are dirty shoes. Don't take that risk. Polish your shoes!
  • #5 - Iron Your Shirt
    Just like dirty dress shoes will make a bad impression, so will a wrinkled shirt. If you don't have much time then just iron the collar and the front of the shirt. The rest will be hidden underneath your jacket anyways.
  • #6 Read up on the Company
    If you have followed my first 5 tips then you already made a great first impression which will set a positive tone for the rest of the interview. Now follow things up by showing that you have done your research when answering questions that the interviewer may throw at you.
  • #7 - Bring an Extra Resume
    Don't expect that the interviewer has one printed out. Instead pull out two resumes: one for yourself and one for the interviewer.
  • #8 - Take Notes
    Take some notes if there are things that you may have questions about or may want to look into further after the interview. Taking notes shows that you are interested. But again, don't overdo it. After all, you are the one being interviewed.
  • #9 - Have Questions Prepared
    Asking questions about the job and the company is a great way to show that you have done your research, and are interested in the position. Personally, it is one of the things I value most when interviewing a new candidate.
  • #10 - Write a Thank You E-mail
    This should go without saying, but surprisingly only 10% of the people I interview take a few minutes to follow up with a thank you note. Something as simply as: "Thank you again for taking the time to with me. I really appreciate the opportunity. After learning more about the position and the your company's culture, I feel confident that my skills and personality are a good fit. Thank you again for the opportunity and I look forward hearing from you."

Popular Tuxedo Jacket Styles

styled of different black tie tuxedo jackets

Black tie is one of the most misunderstood dress codes in menswear. In a nutshell it is made up from a black tux, formal shirt, waistcoat or a cummerbund (never both), and a black bow tie. (CLCK HERE for a detailed instructions on dressing for men’s black tie attire.)

However, black tie does allow you to personalize your look. In this post I am discussing different jacket styles that stand out thanks to a unique cut, color or tailoring detail.

#1 Single Breasted (w/ peak lapels)
The single-breasted tux is the most common style. Almost always this is the style that is available to you at tuxedo rentals. It is a timeless look that makes up the “Gold Standard” of classic black tie dress.

#2: Double Breasted (w/ peak lapels)
The double-breasted tux is one of my favorite looks. To me it has a very unique, gentlemanly, and masculine elegance. The key to a good looking double-breasted tux is in the tailoring. The jacket needs to fit perfectly at your shoulders, taper at the waist, and be cut to the right length. Because most double-breasted tuxes feature wider lapels these jackets look excellent with a larger butterfly bow tie (read about different bow tie styles here). Two great examples where this is done just right, can be seen on Tom Hanks as well as Tom Ford.

#3: Single Breasted (w/ notch lapels)
If you are looking for a modern cut tux that is tailored with a slimmer silhouette, then this is the style for you. Because of the narrow notch lapels these tuxes look best with standard butterfly or narrow batwing bow ties. Also, they look fantastic with solid skinny black neckties – creating a more modern, trendy, and slightly more casual black tie look. That being said, it is a perfect look for “black tie optional”, or “black tie preferred” invitations.

#4: Single Breasted (w/ shawl collar)
Another excellent pick for the fashion forward and modern man is the single breasted tux featuring a narrow shawl collar. It can be worn with standard black bow ties as well as slim black neckties. Lapel flowers are not suited for this jacket style. Instead choose a solid white pocket square.

$5: Double Breasted (w/ shawl collar)
Chances are you will be one of the only men wearing a double breasted shawl collar tux at the event! If you want to stand out with your impeccable sartorial wardrobe choices, while perfectly adhering to a strict black tie dress code, then this is the jacket for you. It is best worn with cummerbund, formal un-pleated dress shirt, and a white pocket square.

$6: The White Dinner Jacket
The white tuxedo jacket is worn for so-called “Warm Weather Black Tie”. As the name suggests, it is a formal black tie event taking place in warmer climate during the day. The white dinner jacket comes in single and double breasted cuts, as well as any lapel style. It is considered a faux pas to wear it with a waistcoat. Instead it is paired with black pleated cummerbund, white formal shirt with onyx studs, black tuxedo pants, and patent leather dress shoes.


Matching Ties to Collars

tie and shirt collar matching guide

Remember last week’s post that featured a simple cheat sheet on the most common dress shirt collars, cuffs, as well as lapels found in menswear today? Well, since not all collar styles are suited for all types of neckwear, I thought another simple infographic would be in order to showcase what type of tie you can wear with which type of collar. As always, your comments below are appreciated.

Dress Shirt Collars and Cuffs in Menswear

different styles of shirt collars and cuffs

More often than not, the difference between great and good style is archived by paying attention to the little details in menswear. Take your dress shirts for instance. Chances are that a large majority of your shirts are either solid white, or light blue in color. Not surprisingly, the same are found in the wardrobe of the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you. Now, how do you set yourself apart while still adhering to a strict, navy suit and solid shirt, office dress code? The answer, my friend, lies in the details – particularly your collars, cuffs, and lapels. Above are the most common styles for dress shirt collars, cuffs, as well as suit lapels. So, the next time you shop for a shirt, pay attention to these details! It will set yourself apart from most other suit & tie wearers. Stay tuned for next week’s tutorial on how to pair your ties to different shirt collars.

Top 5 Ties for Gingham Shirts

Are you a fan of the gingham dress shirt? Without doubt, it is a popular pattern that adds some dapperness to any look. It is also amazingly versatile since it can be worn casually with jeans, or dressed up in combination with suit and tie. Because the gingham check is quite a busy pattern, matching neckties to a gingham check shirt can be tricky. To avoid clashing patterns, above are the TOP 5 best neckties to match to your gingham check dress shirt.

Interview with Brian Sacawa of “He Spoke Style”

After taking a break from my Menswear Insider Interviews, I decided that it would be about time to add a new feature. This time I am excited to feature an interview with Brian Sacawa, the founder and voice of one of my favorite menswear blogs, Hi Brian, as a fan of your blog let me start off saying how excited I am to feature you as part of my Menswear Insider series. I read your bio and you have quite the impressive resume, including being a professional Saxophone player and elite cyclist. Now, what motivated you to start a menswear blog?

Brian: Honestly, I needed something to do! Let me explain. So, in addition to “retiring” from cycling two years ago, I’d also stopped running the music series I’d founded, so I was left with no extra-curricular projects in my life. I have trouble sitting still and menswear was something that had interested me for a while. I felt there was a bit of a void in the space and decided to add my voice. Looking how far HeSpokeStyle has come, it is clear that you definitely haven’t been sitting still. You have been quoted saying that “I see many similarities between style and music”. Tell me more.

Brian: Both are forms of communication. Both are forms of art. Both are lifelong journeys. Now, He Spoke Style is a success story on its own. But for every successful blog there are dozens that fail. If you could give an aspiring menswear blogger a single piece of advice, what would it be?

Brian: Do only what you love and are passionate about. Be a great writer. Post only original, high-quality content and artwork. Have a unique voice or point of view. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Tell me about your “first steps” as a blogger. Did you have any blogging experience before you started He Spoke Style?

Brian: I did, actually. When I was first building my career as a musician, a well-known music community website invited me to write for them. At first, I thought, nah, there’s no way, I don’t want to share my personal diary, and so on. But I did it and it was one of the best non-music-related career moves I could have made.

10 years ago, blogs weren’t as popular or ubiquitous as they are today and I was actually one of the very first “performer bloggers.” That put me in front of many influential critics and allowed me to show a different side of myself, beyond the musician that people would hear and see on stage. It also taught me that your fans are generally interested to know more about you. That’s a lesson I’ve been revisiting as HSS has continued to evolve. That is great. It just highlights again how important it is to have a “unique voice” as you said earlier. Now, how has your blog changed/evolved since it has been launched?

Brian: We’ve been doing more lifestyle content to supplement our style posts. This has been a lot of fun and I’m glad that readers have responded so positively. Style isn’t just about the clothes you wear, but how you live your life, the complete package. It’s also been a great way to begin to explore more editorial content and to tell bigger stories.

We’re also doing more video. The Ask He Spoke Style series has been a really fun way to engage with readers and show them my personality beyond the photos we take. Definitely check out what’s new on the YouTube channel! Without doubt, you are a creative person. Is there anyone or anything that inspires you?

Brian: People who are intelligent, passionate, and professional. Like?

Brian: It may seem odd because I’m a menswear publication, but I get a lot of inspiration from female fashion blogs. Sites like The Glamourai, The Chriselle Factor, Gary Pepper Girl, Man Repeller, and Atlantic-Pacific are all so amazing in very different ways. Now back to menswear/clothing for a second. If someone gave you $100 and said you could only buy one clothing item, what would it be?

Brian: A Biltwell Bonanza motorcycle helmet. How about if it was $1,000?

Brian: Since fall is right around the corner, it would have to be this Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Plaid Chesterfield coat. Tell me about your personal style. It is obvious that you know a lot about menswear. But on a day to day basis, are you more a jeans & T-shirt kind of guy or suit & tie?

Brian: Man, it really depends. On the weather, on the season, on my mood! I don’t have one particular go-to look, but regardless of whether it’s dapper or casual, I think it’s important to look put together. Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, how you present yourself has a direct effect on the interactions you have with people. Tom Ford said, “dressing well is a form of good manners.” It also shows respect, in my opinion. Without doubt, dressing well can only help. Surprisingly only few men take advantage of dressing well. Be it ignorance or poor laziness, which single men’s style faux pas bothers you the most and why?

Brian: Do I have to pick just one?! Okay, I really can’t stand the t-shirt (white or otherwise) showing under an unbuttoned button-up or polo. I understand the thinking–trying to squeeze a little more life out of a shirt between washed–but it looks terrible. When you’ve got your shirt open, it’s framing your face and the t-shirt just really messes that line up. Where do you see the site headed over the next few years?

Brian: Great question. I’d really like to develop the creative side of what we do and tell bigger and broader stories. I’m a creative person and there is so much inside that I need to get out. And honestly, the only thing preventing us from exploring that direction more right now is time. Rob and I are both extremely busy and do our best to balance the blog, work, and life. My hope is that as HSS continues to grow, we’ll have the opportunity to more fully invest and immerse ourselves in more editorial content and projects. Sounds like you may be hiring an intern? =) Joking aside, are you looking to hire someone to help grow your site? If so, what qualifications are you looking for?

Brian: Maybe somewhere down the line, but not right now. If and when that happens, this person would have to be extremely detail-oriented, a self-starter, and require little to no supervision to accomplish things. Ideally, this is someone whose work I’m already familiar with and respect. Very well. Thanks for all the great insights. It was a pleasure. Best of luck to you!

Interviewed by Tie-a-Tie founder and neckwear aficionado Hendrik Pohl.

The Necktie: 10 Fun Facts

Did you know that a Swedish team of mathematicians calculated that you can tie a tie in 177,147 different ways? Despite this astonishing number most men struggle with mastering just a single tie knot. In fact, each day 15,000 men in the US search the internet for “how to tie a tie”. Despite this, it is actually less than 1% of adult men who know how to tie their own bow ties. These are just 3 of the 10 fun facts that inspired me to create this fun necktie infographic:
mens necktie infographic 10 fun facts