How to wear a tie: Making the right choice

by | Aug 13, 2016 | Wear It Right

Let’s begin with a question. Why is it important to know how to wear a tie? It’s because of the tie’s purpose – to complement your overal look. It adds a sense of luxury and richness to a suit, but beyond that doesn’t have any practical use. So it has all to do with how you wear it. If it doesn’t look good on you it shouldn’t be on you.

Wearing a tie the wrong way can actually have a negative effect on your overall look. It can look totally out of place. Luckily that’s something you won’t need to worry about because we’re going to show you how to wear a tie and look great.

Important: When buying a tie don’t just go for the one that looks most compelling to you. Always try to match the tie to the clothing in your wardrobe and your body proportions or it will look out of place when you wear it. If so it won’t make any good impression, right?

Necktie Proportions


The answer to how to wear a tie begins with the proportions. There are many tie sizes and you can easily get confused. The two things to look for are the width and length. Determining the right ones for you is pretty easy actually.

Tie Width

The accepted standard width of a tie is 3 ¼ inches (8,25 centimeters) in its widest part. However times change and today it’s better to go for a slightly narrower tie, sticking to around 3 inches (7.6 centimeters).

Another thing to consider is that the tie width should be in balance with the size of your chest and shoulders area. If you have big chest frame a standard tie will look thin on you. It’s better to go for a wider one. If you’re on the narrow side a standard tie will be too wide and a thinner one will be the choice. Remember, we’re looking for balance.

Note: Whether on the wide or narrow side don’t go for more than half an inch (1.3 centimeters) from the standard.

The tie width should be in balance with the width of the jacket lapels too. This should not be a problem because the same rule as above applies. Big chested men should wear wider lapels, which will match the wider tie. Narrow chested men will go for narrower lapels and necktie. However suit styles vary so be mindful of the necktie-lapels balance when making your choice.

Proper Tie Length

That’s the second and final part of determining the right necktie proportions. Width and length are really the only two proportions you’ll need to care about.

The proper tie length varies from 52 to 58 inches long (132 to 147 centimeters). It really depends on how high (don’t get me wrong here) you are. If you’re very tall you might require a longer necktie, which can be specially ordered (or found on the internet). After tied its tip should be long enough to reach the waistband of the trousers where your belt buckle is. The bottom of the tie should never extend bellow your waistline.

The Tie Knot

The knot should rest on your throat between the points of the collar. It shouldn’t be loose (maximum 1 ½ inches (3.8 centimeters) below your Adam’s apple) or too tight that it creates an uncomfortable feeling of suffocation. The knot should not be so big that it spreads the collar or so small that it becomes lost in the collar. Again, we’re looking for balance.

There are many types of knots (over 80) and which one you choose should mainly depend on the gap size of your collar. Spread collars need a larger knot. A safe bet is to go with a basic four-in-hand knot that can be worn successfully with all types of collars. If you want to learn how to do it check our article “Tying a tie: The only knot you need to know.

Choosing a Necktie Color

The second part of the question how to wear a tie is all about the colors. The first rule when choosing a tie color is that it should accent your outfit, not overpower it. There is no such thing as best color for a tie. The one you’ll go for depends on the rest of your outfit and your natural contrast levels.

We’ve covered this theme in depth in our article “Suit Colors – How to Choose the Perfect for You”, but here we’ll explain it briefly again.

Note: If you’re dressing business professional you can skip this section and use a dark conservative tie, solid or with a subtle pattern. The business professional attire has its rules that come before style.

Now, what we refer to as your natural contrast is the level of contrast your skin and hair colors create. You should match the levels of contrast of your clothes to it.

If you have light skin and dark hair for example, the high contrast should be represented in your clothing as well (white shirt and dark jacket). If, on the other hand, you have similar skin and hair colors, then the low contrast they create should be followed by low contrasting colors of the clothing bellow.

Look at the examples for comparison:

You should pick the color of your tie following that logic. If the color of your tie is too sharp compared to the rest of your outfit and face contrasts it will attract too much attention. If it’s too muted it will fail its purpose to complement your overall look. Go for a color that compared with the rest of your outfit will match the contrast level of your skin and hair.

Here are some more examples to see how this works:

Note: If you’re a beginner you can try a shirt and a necktie that share a common color, but never exactly the same tone.

How to wear a tie with a Pattern

There are so many tie pattern variations that it will be impossible to cover them in one article. However we should give you some guidelines to follow if you want to buy a patterned tie.

When it comes to patterns never use the same ones for your shirt and tie. You can try striped ties for patterned shirts and printed ties for shirts with stripes. If the pattern of your shirt is pronounced go for a subtle tie. If your shirt pattern is muted you can go for a more pronounced one for the tie.

You can, and should, when possible use the pattern of your tie to highlight a part of your outfit or one of your natural colors like the one of the eyes. A tie with blue pattern will always look good on someone with blue eyes. If you have reddish colors on your cheeks try to match it with reddish tie pattern.

Time to Wrap it Up

If you want to go in depth about wearing a tie there are so many things to consider, like fabric, lining, stitching, structure and so on. Not everyone has time for that and you don’t really need to know it all unless you want to go really profession about your looks. The proportions and colors we covered here are the basics of how to wear a tie. They are enough to get you going and you’ll do great just relying on them.

Thank you for reading, if you liked this guide share it with your friends. We also encourage you to follow us so that you are always kept up to date with our latest articles.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Spread the word

Share this post with your friends!

Share The Knowledge

Do you find the post helpful? Share it with your friends!