How to wear a tie

how to wear a tie

For an accessory so small, there are a lot of ways you can wear a tie. There are also many different colour and pattern options, as well as a variety of styles and knots to choose from. So, how do you pick the perfect shirt and tie combination to pull together the perfect outfit?

How to do a tie

There are over 20 different ways you can knot a tie, with each variation creating a different look depending on the occasion.

The most popular way is the four-in-hand knot. It’s usually taught to children because it is the easiest to manoeuver and looks the most casual.

To complete this knot, the small, thin end of the tie stays where it is and you just move the wider end.

Step 1: Take the tie over to the left
Step 2: Move the wide end under the thinner end
Step 3: Take the wide end left over the front again
Step 4: Put the end up through the neck loop
Step 5: Pull the end through the loop in the front and adjust

If you want to be able to wear a tie in multiple ways, the Windsor knot is another style that’s handy to know. It could be worn for more formal occasions and creates a wide triangular knot.

Step 1: Take the tie over to the left
Step 2: Take the wide end up through the neck loop
Step 3 and 4: Pull the wide end back down to the front and wrap it under the thin end to the right
Step 5 and 6: Bring the wide end up to the left and down through the neck loop again
Step 7: Bring the wide end around the front and to the left
Step 8: Take the wide end up through the neck loop for a third time
Step 9: Pull the end down through the loop at the front and adjust

A Windsor knot could take a few practice attempts to perfect the look. This kind of knot is quite chunky so you should avoid wearing a skinny tie with this style.

What is a tie clip for?

Many people think that tie clips are used because of how they look. However, they also have a specific purpose. A tie clip keeps your tie fastened to your shirt to stop it from moving in the wind or being dipped in your food. There are two main types of tie clip: a tie bar and a hinged tie clip

A tie bar is one piece of folded metal, much like a woman’s hair grip, that sits on your tie. A tie clip tends to have a hinge just like a clothes peg so you can pinch one end to loosen the clip.

The tie clip should be the same width as your tie or narrower. It should never be wider than your tie as this could look odd. It should be placed about three or four buttons down from the top of your shirt and should be horizontal (not at a diagonal angle).

For a more casual style, your tie clip could be a bright colour or pattern to add some contrast to your suit. The tie clip could even match the colour of your pocket square.

For more formal occasions, you should match the tie clip to any other accessories you might be wearing, including jewellery and cufflinks. For example, if your cufflinks are silver, keep your tie clip silver too. If you’re wearing a waistcoat, avoid wearing a tie clip. It probably won’t be seen and the waistcoat will keep your tie in place without the need for a clip.

What colour tie should I wear...

If you’re unsure which colour tie to go for we’ve listed a few popular suit and tie combinations below.

...with striped shirts

Many people will avoid striped shirts because they don’t know what kind will go with them. You want to make sure your tie complements your shirt. The best way to do this is to choose a solid colour with little or no pattern on it.

If you do want to wear a patterned tie, make sure the pattern is either bigger or smaller than the stripes in the shirt. A tie with big, thick stripes will go well with a shirt that has very thin stripes on it. The same theory applies to checked shirts too.

...with a white shirt

White shirts are the most versatile to dress and pretty much anything goes. The only hindrance could be the rest of your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a blue suit with brown brogues, you might want to avoid a black tie. Instead choose something like maroon, which will complement the brown shoes.

...with a black shirt

With a black shirt, you should keep your tie dark too. Either choose a tie with a black and grey pattern or stick to a solid black colour. If you want to add colour, try a very dark red or blue. These tones will work without looking comical or out of place.

The easiest way to make sure your tie matches your outfit is to use a colour wheel. A colour wheel is normally used for home interiors but the theory can be applied to fashion as well. The wheel shows you which colours complement each other the most. You can either pair colours that are opposite each other or colours that sit next to each other.

If there’s only one rule you choose to pay attention to in this post, it’s that your tie should always be darker than your shirt.

There are so many ways to wear a tie. Most are down to personal preference but some are down to etiquette and more general fashion rules.