The Skinny Tie

There are so many options in neck wear for men today. Some have varied in popularity throughout history, and most are closely related through a common ancestor. The cravat (or cravatte) is the original neck-cloth, dating back to the 17th century Croatian military garb. Next came the Ascot, which was a more tailored version of the cravat, it was designed for casual or “morning” wear (I saw someone wearing an Ascot looking real smart just this weekend). That was very quickly followed by the bow-ties and string ties. I love bow ties as I’ve said before. Some argue that bow-ties and the cravat originated together, or are even one in the same, I believe they are distinctly different. Frome all of those we can derive the modern-day necktie. Since neckties evolved from the early cravats, their width has varied, stretching from barely an inch thick to a ridiculously wide five inches.  Today, the typical tie  is about 3.5 inches wide. Of course these aren’t the only options men have, but if you read this blog don’t even consider items such as the Bola tie unless you are an oil magnate living in Dallas Texas.  

In the 1950s, musicians such as The Rat Pack and The Beatles were the first to make skinnier ties popular. Again in the early 60’s and early 80’s they waxed and waned along with other trends. Of course as trends always do in recent years, the style has returned in a big way. Most skinny ties now are between 2 and 2.5 inches thick, though some people take it even skinnier. The skinny tie is an updated look that adds personality and youth to casual or business attire.  Depending on the design and width of your tie, you can pull off many looks ranging  from fashion-wise to bold and edgy. Although skinny ties are fashionable and can be season specific, they are an accessory that you should have in your closet. Here are 10 rules for adding the skinny tie to your wardrobe.

  1. Keep it simple, don’t make your skinny tie look bigger with a bold pattern, loud color or design. Solid muted colors or simple stripes are best.
  2. They can be worn for dress or casual, if you are wearing it for dress you need to take care to make sure the rest of your ensemble is matched properly for risk of looking like your not put together.
  3. Match the tie with to the suit lapels. Skinny ties look best when worn with narrow lapels
  4. Skinny ties look best with 2 button suit, no double-breasted, or even better, no jacket at all.
  5. Don’t wear one with a dress shirt that has a wide-spread collar, or button down collars. As a matter of fact, never wear button down collars, you are no longer 5 years old.
  6. Match the tie to the knot, a narrow tie requires a smaller, slightly asymmetric knot. A perfect tie knot is the so-called four in Hand knot (below).
  7. Skinny ties work well for tall and thin men. Short, or overweight men should avoid narrow ties as they can add more girth to your frame.
  8. As with all ties, be smart about matching your shirt and tie patterns, a pattern shirt needs a more understated tie, and vice-versa, keep it simple.
  9. Dont use a tie clip, a tac, or tie bar. The skinny tie is already an accessory and a thin one at that, dont busy it up with tie jewelry.
  10. Have fun, Black tie on white always wins, but there are a lot of styles available, so do some experimenting to find the right combo that makes you look swell.

4 responses to “The Skinny Tie

  1. Though I appreciate the many good points on fashion and thought towards skinny ties in your article, I wanted to respond to a few points I disagree with, and do so through the use of pictures of Fred Astaire:

    (1) I think it’s inaccurate to say they were first popular in the 1950s. They were part of men’s fashion in the 30s, as well:

    (Though perhaps the most popular the skinny tie ever was was in the 1950s)

    (2) The button-down shirt has it’s place in fine men’s fashion:

    (3) I think good fashion has a little bit more sophisticated answer than “a pattern shirt needs a basic tie, and vice-versa.” For instance, in the picture above, where Fred is playing backgammon, he shows a shirt with a thin pattern matched with a tie with a thick pattern. So, there two patterns are not what I would call basic, and yet they work.

    However, thanks to your article I’ve got some new things to think about. Thanks!

    –Bobby White

    • Thanks for the feedback; Yes Fred Astaire is an ageless icon of style without question, In response to your points:
      1. Yes I’ll give you the 30’s, but as you said the 50 was the peak
      2. Although he looks smashing in a button collar, I cannot concede that it is appropriate for everyman especially in today’s fashion.
      3. My aim was simple rules that are therefore easier to remember, I too mix prints, and in rule #10 I challenge men to experiment, but for a basic rule of thumb, less is more.
      Again thanks for the comment, I am glad you enjoyed the post and took something from it. I look forward to more feedback from you should you continue reading my blog.


  2. Pingback: Every Swell Man Should Learn… | How to be Swell

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