Prom, wedding, funeral: You've got to learn how to tie a tie sometime. If you're attending a black-tie gala, you may have few choices beyond bow-tie or straight-up... black tie. But most events offer a little more choice, and with choice comes stress, confusion and a general feeling of ennui. How do I tie a necktie? How long should it hang? Which knot should I use? We answer all these answers and more below:
What kind of affair are you attending? We can't help you with color-coordinating or knowing exactly which tie goes with which suit. But there is a little rhyme and reason behind which knot you should use, and it begins with taking a look at where you will be wearing said neckpiece:
What knot should you use, and how do you tie it?
- If you're headed to a nice reception or wedding, a wider tie with a Windsor knot is always a great choice. A Windsor knot is one of the more formal of the knots out there. Learn to tie a Windsor at this link, which has video instructions, illustrations, and a step-by-step run-through of how to with this classic look.
- If you're going to something on which the invitation states that you should wear the amorphous, ever-dreaded business casual dress code, think about rocking the half-Windsor. A little simpler than the Windsor, and a lot less bulky annd formal, this goes well with the jacket-and-slacks look as well as when you're attending a company-wide meeting and know a tie might help you get a leg up. Here's a link to video, illustrations, and text explaining just how to get this look.
- If you have a shorter neck and want to know what tie to wear in place of a half-Windsor, the four-in-hand knot is always a good choice. Visit this link to learn all about this slightly-assymetrical knot.
- If you're playing in a screamo or punk band and want to do the skinny-tie look, wear the thinnest, blackest tie you can find, and tie it inthe tiniest know you possibly can. One of the simplest ways to tie a tie, and one of the least-acceptable looks for a formal event, here's a link to instructions for tying a small tie knot. And don't forget the guyliner.
- There are many other variations on the tie knot, though most people really just know two or three. If you want to mix it up further, visit this link for a full accounting of the world's knots.
How long should you wear it?
A tie should almost always be worn so that it hangs down to the middle of your belt buckle. Some people prefer a little bit shorter tie, but you should never wear one beyond that length.
What do you do if you can't find a tie that's long enough?
If your neck is a little larger than average, you may need to visit the big & tall section to shop for ties. Don't be ashamed, many people are regularly-sized elsewhere but have slightly larger necks, either because of genes or working out, and therefore must use longer ties than the standard length.
When should you wear a clip-on tie?
Never. Ever. If there's a chance you'll meet a woman, or a man, at the event you're attending, please remember NEVER to wear a clip-on tie. It's tacky, it's cheap, and it's actually less comfortable, as the little metal clip will dig into your throat all night. And if it dislodges itself while you're raising the roof, you'll never live down the fact that you're that guy who wore the clip-on to Mike's bachelor party.