Not much can be said about the venerable necktie that hasn’t yet been said by… well, everyone. This is not only a historical accessory but a crucial addition to every man’s wardrobe. Yet here you are, blissfully unaware of how to properly tie a cravat or negotiate the considerable complexities of a 7-fold tie.
Right. I’ll give you a pass on those two for now—but we’ll eventually reckon with them, along with 12 of the other (far more relevant) types of ties that should be part of your sartorial vocabulary.
Our journey begins with the bow tie, takes a detour through the neckerchief, and eventually lands on the aforementioned 7-fold tie. And who knows. You might just learn a thing or two along the way about how they lean into your go-to wedding, interview, or cocktail attire tie.
Throughout the decades, the necktie has taken on dozens of iterations. Some, like the neckerchief, originated as purely functional garments. Others, like the skinny tie, are all about aesthetics. Regardless of which way you go, you’ll want a solid or patterned tie that’s appropriate for places like work and weddings.
What we recognize today as the bow tie has roots dating back to 17th-century Europe. It’s a fussy little piece of fabric, but it’s also a huge statement-maker if you can pull off the look.
The ideal neck for the bow tie belongs to a confident guy who knows how to grab positive attention without coming off as a try-hard. Weddings. New Year’s Eve parties. Giving a closing argument in a Southern courthouse surrounded by Grand Oaks dripping with Spanish moss. I’ll also accept “Less specific occasions.” The best bow ties are the ones that you’ll get the most mileage out of based on your lifestyle. Lanvin makes a solid pre-tied silk number that’ll ease right into almost any occasion.
Skinny ties, like most types of ties, have risen and fallen with the sartorial tide for decades now. They first gained popularity in the ‘50s and ‘60s, then came the ‘80s synth-pop style, then came Mad Men. And even though they’ve been on their way out again for a while now, you can easily pull the right fabric and color off with a tailored suit or a pair of jeans. I personally prefer the chunkier look of knitted silk. They’re typically no wider than 2.5 inches and have a standard length. The Pointed Tip Knit tie from the Tie Bar is a nice entry-level option.
Of all the types of neckties, the solid species is hands-down the MVP. Regardless of the shirt and tie combo you’re going for, you can’t go wrong when you reach for a solid shade of handsome.
A quick word of caution. If you don’t often wear ties and only plan on owning one or two, try to keep it simple without being forgettable. Navy blue and black—sure, those are options, and they certainly deserve a place in your rotation. But try mixing it up based on the suit or type of shirt you plan on wearing with your solid tie. Suitsupply has some stellar options, including a dark red silk tie that’s begging to sidle up next to a navy blazer and a crisp white dress shirt.
Spoiler: The moral of this story is “go nuts.” Patterned ties are not only fun and interesting, they can be an extension of your personality. I’m not suggesting you go full Griswold and stockpile themed ties for every holiday and occasion, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to match the color palette to the season. Speaking of, here comes the Tie Bar again with your next Easter Sunday brunch tie.
Pastels in spring? Obviously. Tactically obnoxious summer prints? Go for it. Sexy, moody fall and winter colors? No wrong turns there.
Attention all Boy Scouts of America: steel your nerves. A lot of people are wearing your coveted neckerchief these days. In a lot of different ways. Be strong.
Everyone else, the neckerchief is out there, and you either care or you don’t. But since you’re here, I’ll assume the former is true. Cowboys used to fashion neckerchiefs out of anything available to cover their faces from dust, dirt, and the sun.
But since you’re you, a person who is probably not a cowboy, I’d suggest something more along the lines of Billy Reid’s Pelican Bandana. It’s oh so charming and speaks to its designer’s Alabama roots in a way your archery merit badge wouldn’t dare.
I’m here to talk about all the different types of ties available to you today. And, well, the clip-on tie is one of them. So here we are, talking about clip-on ties. They’re fully tied ties replete with clips that easily attach to your collar, creating the illusion of a standard tie.
While I personally do not recommend them to anyone over the age of five, clip-on ties exist. And if they’re your thing, a nice Jacob Alexander option should do just fine. But honestly, they’re not without their conveniences. Take prom, for example. No one will ever know. Got invited to a last-minute formal thing for work and, oops, you never learned how to tie a tie? Enter the clip-on.
Better yet, maybe just learn how to tie a tie.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Western bow tie, the bolo is also a proud card-carrying member of what I’m affectionately calling the Texas Revival Chic Movement. But unlike the Western or other super-specific types of men’s ties, it’s not as hard to pull this look off.
You could go full top button with a statement piece like the Saffiano leather bolo from Prada, or pick a more playful clasp and keep the tie loose around your neck. It’s a versatile look that exudes confidence and pairs nicely with or without collars.
Not to be confused with the cravat, the ascot is a formal or semi-formal tie that rests under a collared shirt and over an undershirt. If you’re reading this because you’re genuinely interested in learning about and procuring an ascot, congratulations. You not only know yourself, but you’re comfortable enough in your own skin to… wear an ascot.
But you should also know that the best move here is to keep things casual. Wear your ascot loose, and don’t overthink it. Go for a playful paisley like this silk tie from heritage British shirt-maker Turnbull & Asser.
Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, the Western Bow Tie. Short of being around the necks of Colonel Sanders, Spaghetti Western protagonists, and hipster country singers, there’s not much use for this fella in modern society. Regardless, Western Bow Ties—sometimes also referred to as Southern bow ties and string ties—make for good Halloween costume accessories. Amazon, for example, has a relatively cheap option that comes in 21 colors.
Originally worn in the 1600s by Croat soldiers during the Thirty Years’ War, the cravat errs on the unnecessarily formal side and has yet to experience a resurgence in the way that, say, bolo or skinny ties have. That said, a properly paired paisley or polka-dot cravat can look outstanding when worn with purpose and—say it with me—confidence.
Cravat Club’s Silvano offers a subtly elegant look that doesn’t take expert-level style to pull off. Just know that if you decide to go the cravat route, it should be a small part of your larger tie collection as opposed to your go-to. And if that was painfully obvious, hey, we could all use a reminder now and then.
This one’s a doozy. The kipper is typically super wide, tied to achieve a shorter length, and comes in loud, sometimes even obnoxious patterns. It came into popularity in the 50s and 60s, with a few comeback spikes throughout the decades.
It’s a specific look likely best suited to Harry Styles-y pop stars and period-piece movies. But hey, more power to you if you can pull it off. I wouldn’t recommend spending much, especially since you’re probably buying it for a Halloween costume or theme party.
A sailor’s necktie isn’t so much a tie as it is a neckerchief that’s secured in a very storied, very specific way. The garment has a long and colorful history among Navy Sailors, and its square knot is still the tying method used today.
As far as you’re concerned, it’s probably best to admire and respect this one from a distance, leaning instead into the neckerchief and its workwear aesthetic. If you must.
Which brings us to the ever-stuffy, ever-intriguing hunting stock tie. Equestrians of yore (sidebar, I’m so glad I just had an excuse to say “yore”) used them not only as potential tourniquets should they or the horse get injured but also to keep rain and other elements from penetrating their gear.
Today, it’s more of a uniform than anything, and many riders prefer pre-tied options. And at risk of burying the lede, women have historically worn stock ties while men have worn “traditional” ties. That said, raise your hand if you’re a fox hunter or professional show-jumper.
As luxurious as the name might suggest, the 7-fold tie involves a skilled tailor folding a length of fabric (typically silk) seven times to achieve a thick, weighty necktie. Make no mistake about it, this is a specialty item.
And you deserve it.
Rome’s Wilmok produces a luxurious silk 7-fold tie that looks as magnificent as it feels. Of all the types of ties we’ve talked about so far, this one represents expert-level play. From the perfect dimple at the neckline to the weighty significance at the tip, you should be so lucky as to add this specimen to your collection.
Throughout the centuries, endless types of ties have risen to greatness and fallen from glory. But the best ties and the best tie brands are the ones that are best for you, your budget, and your lifestyle.
Without making a definitive statement on the matter, we seem to be in the doldrums of tie trends. The skinny tie is too skinny. The kipper is too Harry Styles. And the just-right tie for every occasion might simply be the crowd-pleasing, medium-width tie in either solid or obnoxious colors. Have fun wrapping your head around that—or better yet, just do what feels right.
Some men need ties for the office, work-related functions, or happy hours with friends and clients. You should have at least a few medium-width ties in solid colors and a few conservative patterned ties as well.
From the Windsor to the Trinity knot, there are several ways to tie a tie. But one of the most popular and versatile methods is the Four-in-Hand knot. To achieve it, drape the tie over your neck with the wide end on your right. Drape the wide end over the small end, then under the small end toward your right. Cross the wide end over across the front again, then up and under the neck loop. Finally, pull the tie down through your newly created loop and tighten.