Ties are some of the best style accessories in men’s fashion.
The opportunities to combine patterns, colors, materials, and knots gives you infinite opportunities for new looks at any time you want.
But what do your tie choices say about you? And is there one choice that’s better than all of the rest?
Naturally, that’s subjective.
Also naturally, that means we have some ideas on it!
We have the answer broken into four simple styles:
- Simple neckties
- Clip-on neckties
- Clasp bowtie
Here’s what we think…
#1. Simple Necktie
“I’m here and I care about how I present myself.”
Occasions: Casualwear, business formal, business casual, formal
Simple neckties are the most common kind of tie out there.
Standard ties often measure between 56″ and 60″, while extra-long ties can measure up to 62″ or longer.
That gives you a whole lot of material to use when you want to tie a new knot.
It’s also why neckties have the most varied and versatile number of knots that you can tie.
One of the most complicated (and famous) knots for neckties is the Full Windsor knot.
Windsor knots are thought to be named for one of the Dukes of Windsor in England. It’s noteworthy for creating a large, symmetrical triangle at the base of a collar.
You can also tie half Windsor, double Windsors, and dozens of other knots. But at the end of the day, the Windsor “family” of knots is easily the most common.
There could be a few reasons for this, but we guess it’s because they’re relatively easy to tie compared to other knots.
This is especially true for full and half Windsors, which only take a few swipes of a tie and about 15 seconds to finish.
Regardless of what you tie, you’re creating a stately and respected image for yourself by wearing a standard necktie.
Neckties (especially full Windsor knots) are the golden image of business apparel. But you can pair a tie with a decent vest and a good pair of jeans for a nice casual look too.
Work, bars, weddings, school — you can always find an occasion to wear a decent tie.
When you do, you’ll look damn good.
However, there’s one big exception to this…
#2. Clip-on Necktie
“I just never learned.”
Occasions: None, really
Clip-on neckties mostly serve the purpose of making kids look dapper for formal occasions, like weddings.
For adults, there’s not much need for a clip-on necktie because…
Because there are regular ties.
Clip-on neckties have a distinct connotation of being cheap or — even worse — lazy.
To make matters worse, it’s pretty obvious at a glance when someone is wearing a clip-on necktie instead of a real necktie.
Most clip-ons are designed with a full Windsor knot, meaning the tops are triangular. But when you tie a Windsor knot yourself, the edges of that triangle tend to be soft or rounded.
Manufactured clip-on ties have much sharper edges on their Windsor knots.
So while it may look nice on a rack, the top two corners of the a clip-on’s Windsor knot can easily pop over a shirt’s collar.
That doesn’t happen with standard neckties, so it’s bound to be a dead giveaway that you’re wearing something a little…
“Too easy” for the occasion.
Plus, the angle of clip-on ties rarely lines up with the collar of a shirt anyway.
As a result, clip-ons just don’t work for modern adult attire.
Please, for the love of God, don’t wear a clip-on.
#3. Bow Tie (Freeform)
“It’s legitimately impressive.”
Occasions: Anything formal
Bow ties are the exact opposite of clip-on ties.
Bow ties require wearers to have an in-depth knowledge of knots, how to make them look nice, and how to keep them from falling apart.
Even then, successfully tying a bow tie is a lot harder than it sounds — and it already sounds crazy hard.
That’s why tying a bow tie requires a whole different process than a regular tie.
The extra process (and skill) required to complete a bow tie means it’s uncommon to find with most gents.
As a result, bow ties are badges of sophistication, patience, knowledge, skill, and self-determination.
They require a whole lot of practice to get right, and the people who can tie them into fashionable knots are in a league of their own.
It’s not just that the tie looks nice either — it’s definitely going to look nice once it’s all done up.
Bow ties are so respectable because the wearer has clearly spent hours of their own time practicing and perfecting a single knot for dozens of hours.
Maybe hundreds of hours, depending on the complexity of the knot.
So the next time you see someone wearing a bow tie at a formal occasion, they’ve earned a compliment.
Or a drink.
Or a high five.
We don’t know — but they worked for that accessorizing, dammit!
#4. Bow Tie (Clasp)
“I’m in a wedding party and I really, really don’t want to learn how to tie a bow tie.”
Occasions: Anywhere formal
Clasp bow ties are kind of like clip-on neckties.
The big difference here is that bow ties are hard to get right, so it’s a little easier to forgive someone who wants a clasp bow tie.
So if someone doesn’t have the patience to tie one — or the time, if you’re a sudden wedding guest — clasp-based bow ties are great.
The tie itself is permanently knotted, and a cloth loop and plastic clasp are stitched into the back.
Once you close the clasp on the cloth look around your neck, you have a perfect bow tie on your collar.
It looks fantastic, but much like a clip-on tie, it’s fairly easy to notice that it’s not the real deal. Someone usually has to be up close to tell the difference, but they can still tell.
Still, clasp bow ties are excellent for anyone who has to wear a bow tie for some occasion but doesn’t know how to work with a freeform tie.
If you haven’t ever had to wear one before, you probably will at some point in your life.
And when you do, you know it’ll look pretty decent.
Fortunately, that means you have a choice.
The next time you have to go to a formal occasion, you have the option to wear a bow tie.
Do you want to invest the time and energy to blow people’s minds with your ability to tie a conventional bow tie?
It’ll take a while — but you know it’ll be worth it.
(There’s also a good chance you’ll be the only person with an honest-to-goodness bow tie at the event as well. But still.)
What’s Your Favorite Tie?
Do you have a tie or knot that you think says something distinct about the wearer?
What’s the favorite tie you have in your wardrobe?
Let us know in the comments!