Are you a bit confused about the dozens of types of ties on the market? Well, who can blame you? There are so many types of neckties, some somber, some quite colorful, and it’s hard to know which goes with what kind of outfit.
Do I make a fool of myself if I wear a clip-on tie to a job interview? And what about skinny ties, are they suitable for a business meeting? Do you know what a kipper tie is? Or a puff tie?
If you thought learning to make a decent Windsor knot was the most complicated thing about ties, you probably weren’t paying much attention to the art of choosing the right color and print. We’ll have a look at this delicate issue, too.
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What are the Different Types of Ties?
Here is a list that will explain the different types of ties, what do they look like, where and how are you supposed to wear them.
An Ascot tie is very similar to a cravat. Its name comes from a type of luxurious silky scarf men used to wear at the famous horse races at Ascot, England. This scarf is looped and folded several times, so it basically covers most of the neck.
A pin is very useful to keep it in place. The top two or three buttons of the shirt should be unbuttoned when you wear an elegant Ascot tie. While traditional ties come over the shirt, an Ascot necktie is usually tucked inside the shirt.
Obviously, an Ascot tie is way shorter than a regular one otherwise it would look terrible stuffed inside the shirt. While very stylish, an Ascot is not what you want to wear for a business meeting, but it’s just perfect for a dinner party.
A Bolo tie is a typical American neck accessory. At least, that’s what the rest of the world thinks about this sort of braided leather string tie that first appeared in the 1940s. The loose ends of the strings have metal tips, but what matters most for a Bolo (or Bola, as it is also known as) is the fastening.
The metal, or sometimes plastic clasp that keeps the string together is the essential part of a Bolo. The metal clasp can be etched with various symbols, often indicating affiliation with a certain organization.
Bolo clasps can come in various shapes and sizes and since it’s essentially a piece of jewelry that can be adorned with precious or semi-precious stones. For a stylish look, try a clasp made of pure silver.
A bowtie is a medium-thin ribbon artfully tied into a bow. If you’ve mastered tying a knot on a traditional tie, tying a bow tie will be a piece of cake. Bowties are an absolute must when you wear a tuxedo, but you can also wear one with a formal suit.
With a tuxedo, stick with a black bowtie, just to be sure you don’t commit a fashion faux-pas. However, for social occasions, such as a wedding or a fancy dinner party, you can choose a bold color, but not a very bright one.
For instance, a burgundy bowtie is perfectly OK, while a vivid red one might make you look like a party clown.
If tying the perfect knot on a necktie is an art that eludes you, a clip-on tie is just what you need for a formal occasion. Rather than embarrass yourself, have a couple of clip-on in your dresser or in a drawer at the office.
The knot is already tied and the clip-on can be attached to the shirt with a hook or a clip. You can also buy clip-on bow ties which come with a thin band that can be fitted around your neck with a hook and eye fastening.
The beauty of clip-on ties is that you can take them off as easily as you can put them on. Once that tedious meeting is over and you’re out the door, you can quickly get rid of the tie and be your usual carefree self again.
A cravat is the grandfather of all modern types of tie. The term dates back to the 17th century when Croatian mercenaries used to wear a neck accessory no one had seen before.
The King of France Louis XIV was so impressed with what the Croats wore he made the silk scarf tied around the neck the most fashionable piece of clothing of the era.
In many European countries, the term cravat (derived from Croat) is used to refer to what Americans call a tie.
In America, a cravat is today a sort of informal tie made of silk, with wide margins and tied loosely around the neck. It falls somewhere between a tie and a scarf, and it is considered so elegant you can totally wear one on a formal occasion.
Hunting Stock Tie
If you like horse riding, your outfit is incomplete without a hunting stock tie. Just as the name indicates, this type of necktie was first adopted by people who went fox-hunting on horseback.
A hunting stock tie is a sort of scarf, traditionally white, which is folded over, knotted, and kept in place with a tack. It’s a way of looking elegant, without having the tie flying into your face as you chase the prey.
Now, the whole folding and tying thing is a bit of a headache and you need a lot of practice to master it, but you can cheat your way into looking dapper by buying a pre-tied hunting stock tie.
All you have to do is stick together the two pieces of velcro that go at the back of your neck and you’re ready to go.
A tie that wanted to make a statement. The kipper tie appeared in the 1940s as a protest against wartime austerity. With most basic goods rationed, men could at least afford the luxury of a wide tie. A kipper tie is far wider than a traditional tie and it is also more colorful.
Since you go over the top in width, why not wear something outrageously colorful, that seems to be the rationale behind kipper ties.
The kipper tie made a comeback during the 1960-70s, at the height of the hippie movement, but since then it has been mostly associated with older folks, like an eccentric uncle. However, keep in mind that the kipper is a symbol of protest, that might come in handy!
A neckerchief has little in common with a necktie, except for the fact that they both go around the neck. A neckerchief is a square piece of fabric folded into a triangular shape which is tied under the chin.
It is popular among men and women alike and it serves a purely decorative purpose. While most ties are made of silk, a neckerchief can be made of various materials, like linen or polyester. The good thing about neckerchiefs is that just any sort of knot will do!
A neckerchief can be worn with a short-sleeved shirt, a T-shirt, or a fashionable blouse. As long as you like it, any sort of color or print will do.
If you’re aiming for a vintage look, a puff tie is just what you need. A puff tie is larger than a traditional tie to the point it seems more of an Ascot tie.
The difference is that an Ascot is basically a scarf wrapped around your neck, while a puff tie is a wider than normal tie sewn on a thin ribbon that goes around the neck.
For a full retro look, make sure to use a tack to keep it in place. And the tack matters, too. Preferably, the tack should be made of metal, something sleek and shiny. A gold one is a real killer.
A sailor tie is a casual type of accessory that can be worn by both men and women. It’s more of a scarf loosely tied around the neck than a real tie. The most basic sailor tie is a square piece of cloth folded into a triangle.
The pointy part goes on the back and you tie the loose ends under the chin. A sailor tie can be worn with a light shirt unbuttoned at the top, but it can also look stylish on a T-shirt or a dress. And it doesn’t have to be the traditional white and blue sailors wear.
You can wear something with red and white stripes just as well, or even a floral print to go with a feminine outfit. Sailor ties look very chic for formal outings when you want to stand out. Definitely not suitable for formal occasions, if you don’t want to stand out in a really bad way.
A favorite of the hipster generation, the skinny tie distinguishes itself by being half as wide as a traditional tie. Instead of the typical 4 – 4.5 inches, a skinny tie barely measures 1.5 to 2.5 inches at the principal end.
Call it a minimalist tie for the modern man who knows and respects social conventions, but still resents the stuffy appearance of a traditional tie. Wearing a skinny tie gives you a refined and a bit edgy look. Skinny ties go well with casual outfits, including jeans, but not so much with formal business attire.
If you’re going to a job interview at a prestigious law or financial institution and decide to wear a skinny tie, you’d better have some stellar qualifications as your casual necktie will certainly be a black mark for you.
A stock tie or simply a stock is very similar to the hunting stock tie. It is something equestrians wear at sporting events. Most stock ties are made of silk or satin, as the natural shine of the fabric goes well against a black riding costume.
In the olden days, when they didn’t have paramedics at the ready, a stock could easily be untied and used to dress a rider’s wound or a horse’s one for that matter. For a stylish appearance, a stock tie can be accessorized with a fancy pin instead of tack.
A string tie is quite similar to a Western bow tie. It’s not made of string, rather it’s name comes from the fact that such a tie is very thin, no more than 1 inch, whereas a traditional tie is around 4 inches wide.
If you want an idea of what a string tie looks like, think Colonel Sanders of KFC fame. What differentiates a string tie from a bow tie is that the ends of the tie hang loosely instead of being neatly tied.
For a classy look, those ends shouldn’t go lower than the breast pocket. Such ties are very popular in the Southern parts of the US where they count as formal dress.
The Seven-Fold Tie
If you want to make an impression at a social event, look for a seven-fold tie. It’s a luxury accessory since it requires a lot more silk than a traditional tie and quite a lot of time to produce such an item.
Basically, the fabric is cut in a wide piece, usually a square yard of silk, which is then folded upon itself seven times, till it gets the typical tie shape. With the fabric folded over so many times, the seven-fold tie appears bulkier, and so does the knot.
The result is an imposing accessory people cannot help but notice. What does it say about you? Well, you’re certainly a man with class and means, since such a tie is pricier than your regular tie.
That’s your most basic tie, with the standard width of 4 – 4.5 inches and the perfect knot you’ve worked so hard to learn how to make. It’s the sort of tie you can never go wrong with.
A traditional tie is perfect for a day at the office, but also for a first date or for finally meeting the in-laws. Wearing a tie makes you look sharp, elegant, and well-educated.
Besides learning how to make the perfect knot there’s a whole art to pick a suitable print, but we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn everything you need to know about prints.
The informal cousin of the deeply elegant bowtie, the Western bowtie can be a bit difficult to wear, unless you live in the Southern states. The bow itself is thinner than a regular bowtie and, on top of that, you have the ends hanging loose over your shirt.
While it is perfectly suitable for a casual outing, it is acceptable for formal meetings only in the South, where this sort of tie is highly-appreciated. If you have important business anywhere else in the country stick with a normal necktie if you know what’s good for you!
The guy who invented zipper ties probably deserves a statue. A zipper tie is the salvation of all those poor souls unable to tie a decent knot and there’s plenty of them. It is an adjustable tie that comes with a pre-tied super elegant Windsor knot and you only have to slip it over your head.
A hidden zipper helps you tighten the tie around the neck and no one will know your little secret. Who’s gonna check under your tie anyway? Just select a color and print you like and there you go!
What are the Different Types of Tie Patterns?
A check tie with small squares in alternating colors, like black and white, is very stylish and goes well on a business suit. It shows just a bit of color, while still looking professional. Beware of check ties with rather large squares that look more like the tablecloth in a cheap restaurant than a decent tie.
Diagonal Striped Ties
This is a very popular pattern for ties as it allows a lot of variation. The stripes can be very thin or rather wide, they can create a contrast with the background color of the fabric or match it in a different shade. Such a tie looks very good on a suit in a single color, it can brighten a somber dark blue coat or a brown one. For a more formal meeting, you should choose a tie with a delicate thin stripes pattern, nothing too visible and distracting. For casual occasions, anything goes!
If you’re going to a wedding or a garden party, a floral print in pastel colors is very stylish. Light colors go well for spring and summer, but during the cold season, it’s best to stick with darker colors. For a classy look, the background of the tie should be a shade darker or lighter than your suit, and make sure the flowers themselves do not create a too powerful contrast. A woman can pull that off, but a man, no!
When it comes to ties, foulard refers to a repetitive block pattern. It’s similar to the geometric pattern, but a bit more playful as it’s not about rigid geometric shapes. The foulard pattern can be all about rounded shapes with soft edges or alternating
symbols, like stars and circles. The important thing is that the colors go well together and they’re not too bright. This is the type of tie you can wear at the office, but preferably not when you have an important staff meeting and you want to look 100% the professional type.
Geometric Pattern Ties
Geometric patterns are very versatile, they give you a wide variety of choices and they’re quite suitable for a formal occasion. A honeycomb or a grid pattern can be subtly playful as the little square can be decorated with small fish, stars, anchors, or horseshoes.
Just a bit fun, but barely noticeable. Perfectly suitable for a business meeting. For an informal outing, geometric patterns go just as well, only choose something more colorful than the somber navy blue tie you wear at the office.
A tie decorated without your favorite cartoon character or emojis falls under novelty ties. They’re meant to be fun and eye-catching, but you’d better wear such a tie for an evening out with your friends. Your boss won’t appreciate your Super Mario tie you just got for your birthday!
This is by far the most versatile tie print. It is instantly recognizable for its teardrop pattern and goes well with any color. This type of pattern is of Asian origins and has a
subtle exotic appeal, without standing out too much. Whether you choose a deep blue tie with a paisley motif or a burgundy one, this sort of print will give you a classy look.
Pin Dot Necktie
Don’t confuse this with the polka dot pattern. It’s pin dots we’re talking about here and they’re very very small. The background of the tie should match that of your suit, but that doesn’t mean they need to be of the exact same color.
A different shade is what you should be looking for. The small repetitive pin dots create a hypnotic effect and that looks great on a tie. You can totally wear such a tie for a formal occasion, just make sure the dots are not in a very bright color.
A plaid tie can add a touch of class to any suit as the classic pattern of crisscrossed lines or stripes in various colors will never go out of style. By choosing a tasteful pattern with colors that complement each other you show sophistication.
And confidence, as it takes a man with a good eye for style to choose a nice pattern. However, no matter how pleased you are with your new plaid tie, keep it for informal occasions. It’s not something you want to wear in front of an important business partner.
Polka Dot Tie
Men wearing a polka dot pattern? On a tie it’s totally acceptable, but only if the dots aren’t too big. That would be more like Bozo the Clown.
The dots can be darker or lighter than the background of the tie, but make sure the colors go well together. Black and white, blue and white, black and blue – these combinations are quite suitable for a nice tie you can wear at the office.
When you’ve got an important meeting and don’t want to make a mistake, go with a solid tie, that is a tie in a single color. Not even the most pedantic boss can object to that. More than that, go with a muted color, something deep blue or silvery gray, which looks wonderful on a black suit.
A bright red or green tie is good for a less formal occasion. There’s also black, but let’s face it, on an equally black suit you’d look like an undertaker.
Tartan is often confused with plaid, but they’re two different things. Yes, tartan is still about crisscrossed lines, only think about Scotland and their traditional clothes. A tartan tie relies heavily on green and red, maybe with a bit of white and yellow in the mix.
Such a tie is very elegant, only it’s not what you should wear for a formal meeting. For a family dinner or a few drinks after work, a tartan tie can look wonderful with a suit in a single color.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ties and Neckties:
What is the meaning of neckties?
Neckties are a symbol of nobility, after all, it was one of the most famous kings in history, King Louis XIV of France, who made them fashionable. It was the rich folks who could afford to wear a tie and everybody wanted to at least seem successful. At the same time, neckties look elegant, they can brighten even a drab office suit and that’s reason enough to wear one.
What was the original purpose of a necktie?
The first men known to have worn what we now call neckties were a group of Croatian mercenaries hired by King Louis XIV of France back in the 17th century. The ties they wore served a very practical purpose, that of keeping the top of their coats closed. The king found them quite fashionable and made ties mandatory at the royal palace.
Should the necktie and pocket square match?
No matter what you heard, the answer is no, the necktie shouldn’t match the pocket square. Or not anymore. For a modern look, the pocket square should match just one color of the print of your tie. Or you can choose a contrasting color altogether. Matching tie and pocket square are boring by today’s standards!
Why do men wear ties?
A man wearing a tie inspires confidence, it’s as simple as that. A tie is often associated with a successful professional, someone prepared to go the extra mile, even if in this case it’s just about choosing a tasteful tie. A man who wears a tie commands respect, that long piece of fabric around your neck stands you apart from those who cannot be bothered to look decent.
Are neckties going out of style?
No, neckties aren’t going anywhere. Styles change, some people find the traditional apron tie a bit stuffy, so they’d much rather wear a skinny tie or a Bolo, but don’t be surprised if a few years from now classical ties are back in fashion style.
Can I wear a necktie with a tuxedo?
Absolutely not! The only tie that is acceptable with a tux is a bowtie and only that. And make sure it’s a regular bow tie, not the sort of string tie with dangling loose ends. That’s a complete no-no when it comes to wearing a tuxedo. Keep your neckties for your business suits.
Can neckties be washed?
You can wash a necktie but it’s preferable to do so by hand using a gentle soap. Check the label carefully as some fabrics are dry-cleaned only. As for washing machines, only if yours has a cold water hand-wash cycle, without much spinning if you don’t want to ruin the shape of your tie.