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Ties & Pocket Squares

Pairing Ties with Pocket Squares

ties-pocket-squaresIf you are looking for more ways to dress up your tie then the pocket square will be the perfect accessory. The pocket square will add another small detail to your ensemble that, if done correctly, will instantly give your outfit a classier and more sophisticated look.

I have been a fan of pocket squares for quite some time now and I am actually currently working on a guide teaching different ways to fold a pocket square. I expect to have this tutorial (covering 5 or 6 different folds) published later this month). Until then, here is a quick tutorial for matching ties with pocket squares.

When to Wear a Pocket Square
There is never a bad time to wear a pocket square but there are some occasions that will be more suited than others. A job interview for example might not be the ideal situation. For a face to face interview a classic and conservative outfit is typically more important than trying to make a fashion statement. Other are formal dress codes such as Black Tie occasions where a white pocket square is almost a must have clothing accessory.

Matching a pocket square to suit, shirt, and tie is quite simple. The pocket square does not have to match the tie color exactly. Instead the color has to compliment the rest of your outfit. Should you choose to wear a light rose colored dress shirt, gray suit, and pink tie, then a pocket square showing some pink and/or rose would be an excellent choice.

Do you have to wear a solid color pocket square if you chose to wear a solid color necktie? The short answer is no, not at all. In fact, I find it quite boring if the pocket square pattern and color is the exact same as the necktie. The only thing that should be considered is the color. Patterns can be combined quite wildly. The only thing you should remember is this rule of thumb: Make sure that patterns on each piece are different in size.

Different Folds
Just like there are many different ways you can tie a tie (there are in fact over a 100 different tie knots out there), there are several choices in folding a pocket square. I am currently working on a guide and graphical illustration that will teach you the most popular folds.

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Warm Weather Black Tie


Guide to Warm Weather Black Tie

If you are being invited to a formal black tie event during a hot summer day then you may want to familiarize yourself with so called “Warm Weather Black Tie” option. Classic black tie attire consists of a classic black or midnight blue tux, matching waistcoat, a classic white dress shirt, and formal black bow tie. It is an outfit that, although very classy and elegant, will be quite uncomfortable in warm weather. If you want (or are required) to adhere to a strict black tie ensemble but also seek comfort then warm weather black tie will be perfect.

Warm Weather Black Tie 101
The only, or at least most noticeable difference to classic black tie is a white dinner jacket instead of a black tux. The pants and bow tie stay black and the shoes are also the same elegant black patent leather or polished black calfskin kind that you wear for nighttime black tie functions. White is the most common color on the “warm weather black tie” dinner jacket although cream and ivory are equally acceptable. These white jackets come almost exclusively single breasted since double breasted cuts add too much thickness and warmth for s hot summer day.

Accessories for Warm Weather Black Tie
While some accessories such as button studs and cufflinks are the same to classic back tie, there are some options that are unique to the summer black tie ensemble. The pocket square for instance can be black instead of white to set a nice contrast to the white jacket. Also, waistcoats are usually not worn for warm weather black tie since the additional waist covering would be unsuited for warm climates. Instead you will have the choice of either wearing a slightly thinner black cummerbund or silk sash, or leaving it off altogether and wearing suspenders or a formal belt instead.

Additional Advice for Comfort
The tips above will give you a basic idea on warm weather black tie, but there are few more pieces of advice that will offer cool comfort on even the hottest summer day. Most important is the fabric. Choose clothing items that are only made from natural fibers such as wool, cotton, silk, cashmere, and linen. All these will be much more breathable and allow moisture to wick away from your body – something you will learn to appreciate should there be any dancing. Also choose garments that are made from a light weight fabric.

Finally, there are a few styles that will be more comfortable in warm weather. I already mentioned that jackets should be single breasted and waistcoats should be replaced with cummerbunds. In addition, I recommend formal dress shirt made with a classic turn-down collar. Wing-tip collars usually are stiffened using heavy starch which will be quite uncomfortable during a hot day.

You May Also Want to Read:
My Guide on How to Tie a Bow Tie
My Dress Shirt Collar Guide

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Dress Shirt Collar Guide

Having some knowledge about different shirt collar styles is important for any man that cares about his suit & tie look. In fact, the collar is the focal point of your ensemble for two reasons. First of all it is close to your face, and secondly the vertical line of your necktie instantly draws attention to this part of your outfit. Thus, knowing how to properly choose and match a collar is more important than most men think. Below I am addressing each collar style along with possible variations within each style. I will explain how to match each style to suit, tie, and tie knot. In addition I will give some suggestions on which body type is best flattered with what type of collar.

turn-down-collarClassic Turn Down Collar
This is the classic collar that you will see on 95% of all men dressing in suit and tie. Although common there are some variations within this style. The most noticeable differences lie in collar spread, the size of the collar, as well as in the design of the collar tips. Which style you choose is a personal preference. Typically wider spread collars look better on men with a thin and long neck as it will create the illusion of a shorter, more proportional neck. The opposite is true for bigger and shorter necks which typically look more flattering when paired with a medium to narrow spread collar.

Finally the tie knot you choose should coordinate with the collar spread. It is important that the knot fills the gap between the collars. Thus, larger knots (such as the Windsor) look better on wide spread collars while smaller knots (such as the classic Four in Hand) look better on narrow spread collars.

Over the past two years modern dress shirts are designed with thinner/smaller collars. These dress shirts are typically made for modern cut suits and trendy skinny ties. Again, this has to do with proportion. Modern European designer suits commonly have thinner lapels that need to be matched with narrower neckties and thinner collars.

button-down-collarButton Down Collars
The button down collar is perfect for those looking for slightly more casual dress shirt. It can be worn with or without a tie but should always be worn with collars buttoned down. Most button down collars have a medium to narrow collar spread and therefore typically look best when paired with smaller tie knot such as the Four in Hand, or half Windsor.

wing-tip-collarThe Formal Wing-Tip Collar
The wing-tip dress shirt is the most formal of all styles. It is a must for formal white tie attire and a popular choice for elegant black tie dress. The wing tip collar is either paired with bow tie or ascot. It is never worn for business and reserved for formal evening functions.

mandarin-collarOriental Collars
The oriental collar is a starched band that stands ½ to 1 inch up on the neck. It is never worn with a tie but instead secured with a decorative button stud. The oriental collar, as the name suggests, is of Indian origin and not paired with suit, but a so-called oriental, button-up jacket. If you are looking for a formal alternative to the classic tux & bow tie look then an outfit consisting of oriental jacket, oriental collared dress shirt, and a formal sash would be an acceptable option.

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Style Tips for Skinny Ties

skinny-tie-guideWidths on men’s neckties have changed from one decade to the next. While ties were slim and skinny in the late 1960s, they were super, 4+ inch wide in the 1980s. Today most neckties range from 3.25 to 3.75 inches, but skinny ties, those neckties that are slimmer than 2.5 inches, are also popular – especially among younger men.

I have seen quite a few fashion Faux Pas with skinny ties. Simply buying a skinny tie and wearing it with your day to day suit might not cut it. I am a tie aficionado, and I enjoy it when men know how to properly match a tie. Thus, I complied a short guide for those that want to spot the skinny tie.

If you follow the basic rule that the width of the tie has to match the width of your suit jacket’s lapels, then you already have considered the most important thing when matching a skinny tie to an outfit. Skinny ties are 1.5 to 2.5 inches in width and will look best with modern European cut suits. Only single breasted suits with one, two, or three buttons should be worn with a skinny tie.

The Right Knot
Again, it is all about proportion. Slim ties look best when tied with a smaller tie knot. Because skinny ties create a trendy look that is rather casual than stuffy, the best tie knots are asymmetrical and worn a bit on the loose side. The perfect knot for the skinny tie is the simple four in Hand knot.

Your Body Type
Once again, it is about proportion. Skinny ties look best on thin and tall men. If you have a heavy built and a wrestler’s neck then I suggest you stick to the normal width tie. A skinny tie on a big man looks like he is choking. It just doesn’t look right.

Tie Bars & Accessories
The modern solid color skinny tie paired with a modern European cut suit is best accessorized with a tie bar and pocket square. Best are simple tie bars in either silver or stainless steel. Besides adding a classy touch to your outfit they also serve purpose. Skinny ties are lighter and tend to tangle and twist giving the ensemble a restless appearance. The tie bar will keep the tie in place. For more information you might also visit my guide on popular Tie Accessories.

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Tie Knot Tips for Short Men

7 Tips to Tie a Tie That is Too Long

tie-a-tie-for-short-menFew things bug me more than a poorly tied necktie. Even the nicest designer suit, shirt, and tie combination can look wrong with a badly tied knot. One of the worst fashion eye sores, in my opinion, is a tie that has been tied either too long or too short – something that can be tricky for men that fall outside of the 5’4″ – 6’2″ height range. Below I put together 10 tips short men can use to tie a necktie to the right length – so that the tip ends near your belt buckle.

#1 Buy Certain Brands: Some designers are known for making ties that are a bit shorter than the average. Some excellent brands I suggest are: Feragamo (55″-57″), Paul Stuart (about 55″), and Ralph Lauren (54″-55″). These three brands are about 2-3 inches shorter than the average men’s tie and will be perfect for any man shorter than 5 foot 10 inches.

#2 Tie a Larger Knot: Larger tie knots take up more of the tie’s length. I suggest the Windsor knot – symmetrical and larger tie knot that is actually the most popular knot among US tie wearers.

#3 Custom Tailored Ties: Yes, there is an option to get a tie custom tailored. A good place I have found is Unfortunately there are some design limitations.

#4 Add a Tie Bar: Accessorize your necktie with a tie bar – a metal clasp that slides over the necktie and prevents the tie from dangling. Simply slide the tie bar over the necktie and pull up the narrow end so that it hides behind the broad end of the tie. I personally am a big fan of tie bars, and I found this accessory especially suited for skinny ties.

#5 3-Piece Suits: I am a huge fan of 3-piece suits. They are elegant, classy, and sophisticated! Also, they work well for ties that are too long as only the top 1/3 of the tie will be visible.

#6 Hide the Narrow End: If the narrow end of the tie is hanging lower then the wide end, then you can tug it in between two buttons of your dress shirt. I have tried it and it does work. The downside: It can be slightly uncomfortable. Also, if you choose this option I suggest you wear an undershirt that prevents the tie from touching your skin because perspiration can damage the delicate silk of your tie.

#7 Scissors: Yes, cutting an inch or two off the narrow end is an option. I only recommend this if none of the six suggestions above worked for you. If you do decide to cut some of the tie off then please stitch up the cut to prevent fraying. I suggest you have your tailor do this for you.

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Coming Soon to

Tie-a-Tie’s Next 90 Days

Dear visitor, if this is not your first time visiting my site then you may have noticed quite a few changes over the past two months. On the one hand I have updated the look of the site to make it a little more suited for the 21st century. I wanted a look that is contemporary but at the same time does not take away from the simplicity that so many of you liked about the previous site design.

I have also added some new information lately such as a dress code guide on Black Tie attire. This blog section is also new and I am planning on blogging weekly about the latest tie trend, celebrity fashion, tips & tricks to match your tie, new ways to tie a tie, and much more.

What is Coming Next?
Lot’s of changes have already taken place and I am planning on further expanding this site. In the next 90 days I will continue to grow the dress code section with information on formal White Tie, casual Semi Formal Dress, and more. I will also add a few new ways to tie a tie, as well as will add a new section teaching you to fold a pocket square. It is my plan to offer useful information that is easy quick to read and easy to find. Should you have any suggestions then I would love to hear from you!

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