Introduction - Your ultimate guide to ties
In this handy guide, we teach you everything you need to know, and more, about the humble necktie. Because we sell ties (in fact, we have one of largest ranges on the internet), we can’t promise to be entirely impartial. We adore ties, and want you to wear them as often as possible. We’d have you sleeping with a tie on if we could. What we can guarantee is to be totally honest about when it’s a good idea to wear a tie and when it might not be. Welcome to your ultimate guide to ties.
A little unnecessary history of the tie
If you’re looking for a really boring story to tell at a dinner, you could do worse than the history of the necktie. The tie was first used as a decorative piece of clothing in the 17th century, when Cardinal Richelieu hired Croatian mercenaries to fight for France in the Thirty Years’ War. The name given to the red cloths these heroic soldiers wore around their necks at the victory march, cravat, derived from the French for Croatian, croate, and was chosen in honour of the successful fighters. Over time, the cravat developed into the modern tie, and soon afterwards, it became a symbol of status and high fashion in elegant Paris.
What does wearing a tie say about you?
A stylish and well-tied tie evokes intelligence and competence. It signals that you’ve made an effort to look smart for the person you’re meeting, and therefore shows them that you respect them. This might seem a little bit superficial, and maybe it is, but what’s on the outside is extremely important for first impressions. Whether we like it or not, people are very quick to pass judgement based on external appearances. Use this to your advantage by making sure you wear a nice tie at the right time.
When should I wear a tie?
That’s the million dollar question. Until the 2000s, ties were mainly worn by men with white-collar jobs. In the banking and finance and legal sectors, and in most managerial posts, it was an unwritten rule that all men should wear a tie to work. After the dot-com crash, however, more informal styles suddenly came into vogue. For a while, the use of ties was somewhat more limited, taking place only at weddings, christenings, graduations, black-tie dinners and other formal events. In recent years, however, ties have made something of a comeback, and are increasingly common in the workplace. As we said, a beautiful, well-tied tie gives a good first impression and evokes intelligence and competence. Below, we’ll give you a few situations in which wearing a tie might be a little less appropriate.
Ties in the office?
Whether you should wear a tie to work depends on your position and the culture of your company. The tie is no longer used in the workplace on an everyday basis as it used to be. Instead, it’s become a symbol of important meetings and corporate events. It’s frequently worn at corporate parties and conferences, for example. If you’re in a leadership role, your decision to wear a tie or not should depend on the culture you want to create within the organisation and how you want employees to see your style of leadership. If you want to create a more relaxed atmosphere, feel free to save your tie for the Christmas party or company conferences and high-level meetings.
If you work in banking and finance, you should use a tie on days on which you have meetings with important clients or if something significant is happening within the company. If you work in law, you should probably wear a tie to all customer-facing meetings and negotiations.
Tie at job interviews?
If you’ve been offered an interview for a job, it’s a good to read about the company and its culture before the big day to get an idea of appropriate attire. Most of the time, you don’t have to wear a tie to interviews. However, it rarely hurts to do so, and it shows that you’ve put in the effort and are taking the interview seriously. When it comes to managerial posts, or jobs in banking and finance or law, wearing a tie to a job interview is never too much.
Ties on TV?
If you’re the presenter of a major TV programme such as I’m a Celebrity or Strictly Come Dancing, you should definitely wear a tie or bow tie. In all situations where you have to look good in front of millions of people, wear a tie. Whether you’re a king, a president or a prime minister, don’t be seen in public or on TV without a tie.
Ties at graduation?
Yes, you should always wear a tie to your graduation. Whether you’re leaving high school or university, you should wear a navy blue or black suit and white or light blue shirt in honour of the day. Complete the look with a floral tie in colourful summer colours, or, if you want to play it safe, a solid navy blue version. There aren’t really any rules on which tie you should wear to your graduation; the important thing is that it matches your suit and shirt. Keep in mind that when it comes to different colour clothes, less is more. Try to stick to a maximum of three main colours in your outfit. A pocket square is a really nice idea, and preferably, it shouldn’t have the exact same design as your tie. Rather, try to pick out a colour on the details of the tie to match your pocket square to, or match it to the colour of the shirt. Alternatively, with a navy blue suit and white shirt, a classic white pocket square always looks good. It’s a good idea to buy a graduation tie that you know you’ll feel comfortable wearing at other events so you can use it for many years to come.
Ties on first dates?
A tie is a giant arrow that points straight to the male genitalia. Whether this has any effect on the opposite sex or not is a matter of debate. We generally advise against wearing a tie on a first date, as we think a more casual look and therefore atmosphere is preferable. An exception might be if you’re going to a really fancy restaurant or event where you’re in fact expected to dress up.
Ties and matching pocket squares?
People often ask what pocket square they should you match with their tie. As a rule, a tie and perfectly matching pocket square should only be worn to balls, weddings and christenings. When it comes to parties, dinners and work events, don't match your ties and pocket square unless you’re part of the wait staff. Instead, go for a pocket square that brings out the colour of your shirt or certain details on your tie.
Ties at funerals?
At funerals, you should wear a plain black tie. Dark reds and dark blue are also used frequently. The width of a funeral tie doesn’t matter, so choose what you think you look best in. The most common width is between seven and eight centimetres. The material doesn’t matter either, but the most common is silk or polyester. And you’re free to wear a tie with whatever texture as long as it’s solid white or black.
Ideally, children should also wear ties and follow the same rules as adults at funerals. That is, if they’re family members or relatives of the deceased, young boys should wear black ties. If they’re friends of the family, they should also wear black ties. We have ties for kids aged from two to 12 years. For children older than 12, a skinny, six-centimetre black tie usually fits the bill.
Ties at weddings?
If you’ve been invited to a wedding, wearing a tie is a great idea. Check with the groom what he’s wearing so you don’t end up with a tie that's identical or similar to his. If you’re the lucky man himself, you can wear a tie, bow tie or cravat. In summer, light, summery colours and silks and cottons look good. In winter, duller colours and wool ties are a better option.
Tie at christenings?
You don’t have to wear a tie to a christening unless the dress code states as much. But people usually appreciate when people do wear a tie, and it almost never hurts to do so. Younger boys are also welcome to wear ties.
Ties in winter?
During the year’s darker months, wool is a really pleasant material. It’s warm, breathable and has a matt quality, which means wool ties go well with cosy wool jackets. Muted and discreet colours are best. Why not try a knitted woollen tie? They can look really, really good, and even if other materials can work in winter, wool is many people’s personal favourite.
Ties in summer?
In summer, nice materials for ties are cotton and linen. They’re very breathable and have a nice matt look. Alternatively, if you want a tie with a little more shine, silk is also an option. Bright, happy colours are preferable in summer, as are floral patterns.
Ties with suits?
The basic rule is that if you’re wearing a suit, you should also be wearing a tie. What colour tie to go for depends on the colour of your suit and shirt. Choose your tie last, as it’s easier to find a tie that matches a suit than the other way round. Preferably, you should have no more than three main colours in your outfit. If you’re going to wear a navy blue suit with a white shirt, a blue or dark blue tie is a safe bet. If you like, the tie can have details in other colours. Combine it all with a white pocket square, brown leather shoes and a brown belt and Bob’s your uncle.
Ties with dinner jackets?
In most cases, wearing a tie with your dinner jacket is suitable. If you’re wearing a jacket and trousers in different colours, then a tie isn’t a must. Instead, you can just have a pocket square in your jacket, or nothing at all, for that matter. At this point we’d like to take up the cudgels on behalf of the humble necktie, because we just feel that an outfit with a dinner jacket is always more complete when it includes a tie.
When should kids wear ties?
When is it appropriate for a boy to wear a tie? Kids tends to wear ties at weddings, christenings and funerals. Ties also work at other dressed-up events like parties and dinners. Really, it's up to you and your child if you think it’s a nice idea to have them wear a tie and look as smart as Dad. Take a look at our large range of kids' ties.
How long should my tie be?
The tip of your tie should just about touch your belt buckle. Getting the right length is important, as ties that are too short or too long don’t look good. If your tie’s not the right length, just untie it and start again. Practice makes perfect!
How wide should my tie be?
How wide a tie should be is a matter of taste. The standard and most popular width is 8 cm. A rough guideline is that the widest part of the tie should be the same width as the widest part of the lapels on your jacket. People don’t always follow this rule particularly strictly, though, so a simpler rule of thumb is that people with tall, wide bodies look better in wider ties, while shorter, smaller men look better in narrow ones.
What’s the best way to tie a tie?
We recommend the four-in-hand knot. It's stylish, easy to tie and always right for the occasion. Knots shouldn’t be large, clumsy and loose; rather the best looking knots are small and tight, and the four-in-hand is both of those things. Preferably, ties should have a fold in the middle just below the knot. It’s easy to create this fold by squeezing the top of the tie slightly before tightening the knot. Keep in mind that there mustn’t be a gap between your tie knot and your shirt. Instead, you should tighten your tie as much as you can without making it uncomfortable or difficult to breathe. You can read how to tie your tie in our guide here.
Which material should I go for?
This is also a matter of personal taste. In general, wool works better in the winter and cotton and linen in the summer. Silk and polyester look good all year round. Wool and cotton have a matt look, while silk is glossy. Polyester can be either glossy or matt depending on how the tie is made. Silk and wool are the most expensive materials, while cotton and polyester are cheaper to manufacture. Today, there are really good polyester ties that can’t be distinguished from quality silk ties in anything but price. However, often the way a product makes you feel is just as important as how it looks, so many people still prefer silk ties.
What’s a satin tie?
A satin tie is a tie with a completely smooth surface that gives it an extra glossy finish. Satin is thus a texture, not the material. Lots of people think satin is silk, but that’s not necessarily the case. A satin tie can be made of either silk and polyester.
What colour should I go for?
Choose a tie that’s the same colour as your jacket or suit. Choose your tie last, after you’ve chosen your shirt and jacket. Avoid a tie that’s the same colour as your shirt, because it won’t be visible, and it won’t be a good look.
How do I look after my tie?
First and foremost, you should choose a tie that’s of good quality and will last a long time. A good tie is characterised by good fabrics with an appropriate amount of stretch, strong seams, and a good lining that makes for a beautiful looking knot and a tie that hangs elegantly. Preferably, the back of a tie is made of the same fabric as the front. Ties made in this way are called self-tipped, and are usually more expensive and of better quality.
If you take good care of your belongings, they’ll last longer. The same applies to your ties. We’ve all come home after work or a party and yanked at our ties until they’ve come loose and then thrown them on the nearest chair. It feels great in the moment, but isn’t great for the tie. Here are our most important tips for increasing the lifespan of your tie.
Undoing the knot: The most important factor that makes for a long-lasting tie is that you always untie after use. Carefully loosen the knot and gently undo it. If you pull too hard, you’ll shorten the life of your tie. Once the tie is untied, hang it up, or roll it loosely in a small drawer compartment.
Ironing: Can a creased tie be saved? Sure it can, but it takes a lot of care. Lay the tie out fully before you start ironing, and make sure there’s nothing uneven underneath it, as it can leave ugly marks. A silk tie is easily burnt by an iron that’s too hot, so you should always iron with a piece of cloth between the iron and the tie. Also, you should always start ironing on the lowest heat. Use a lot of steam, as it’s very effective at getting creases out, but be very careful not to allow large drops of water to drip onto the tie, as they can create water stains you might not be able to get out. If the creases aren’t coming out, increase the heat and the amount of steam slightly. As a last resort, you can try ironing the tie directly, but then you have to accept the risk that it might not survive the experience. The best solution would be to use an iron with high steam pressure but relatively low heat. This won't damage the tie, and the steam will dissolve most creases.
Stains: In addition to creases, stains are the biggest threat to nice, smart ties. We all know how easy it can be to accidentally dip your tie in your soup, so you have to be ready for accidents to happen. In the case of stains as in that of creases, it’s important to be careful when removing them from your tie in order not to destroy it. A basic rule is to scrape off the food or sauce with a knife or spoon first to get rid of as much as possible as soon as you can. Then, take a cloth with cold water and rub. For stains with a lot of colour, you can add salt to the stain so that the colour is absorbed. If you can, dry the tie immediately so you’re not left with a water stain. If you’re in a restaurant, try using the hand dryer in the toilets.
You can find alcohol-based stain removers that work on wine and grease stains. Never wash a tie in the washing machine, as it will become unusable. In some cases, you can take your tie to the dry cleaner’s.
Wine on a tie: The most effective way of getting rid of a wine stain is to take a cloth with cold mineral water and rub. You can also add salt to the spot so that the wine is absorbed, or even try an alcohol-based stain remover.
If nothing helps, you might have no other choice than to replace the tie. Browse our wide online range of ties. Luckily for you, we work completely without middlemen, meaning that we can offer high-quality ties at seriously low prices.