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Ties Of Peace
|Photo: Tom Schierlitz|
Feel the difference? It's a small thing, but small things are the point. When you're sporting a tie, you can pretty much stroll in anywhere you want; it's like an Admirals Club card that you wear on the outside. Whether you're suiting up for the office or laying out a look for the evening, a tie allows you to pull together the disparate elements of your wardrobe with a touch of texture or complementary color. If you learn to do it correctly—balance the width of the tie against your lapels and shirt collar, find a knot that fits your face—you'll have dressing right all tied up.
|Photo: Tom Schirmacher|
1. A Tie Is the First Thing People Notice
"Nice tie!" That's always what people say. Their eyes can't help but go there. So while you do want a tie that looks great all on its own, remember, it shouldn't be a novelty piece. It's meant to speak to the rest of your outfit, not stand apart from or clash with it.
|Photo: Tom Schierlitz|
Whether you're six feet four or five feet six, the tip of the tie should hit right at your beltline— not three inches below it, not two inches above it. That is, unless you're doing the whole short-suit thing. And then, yes, let the tie hang tight above the navel.
|Photo: Sebastian Kim|
At GQ, we like a narrow— but not superskinny—tie, about two and a quarter to two and three-quarter inches at its widest point. Much wider than that and you start to look like a congressman. This thinner width works both at the office and on the town, syncing up with any modern-cut suit.
|Photo: Eric Ray Davidson|
4. Your Knot Shouldn't Resemble a Giant Dorito
Do you want a knot the size of a P'Zone, like Stuart Scott on ESPN? No, you don't. So go ahead and ignore the half Windsor, the Prince Albert, the Super-duper Double Elliott, and all those other knots you find in sartorial guidebooks.
You really need to know only one knot—the four-in-hand. It's neither too big nor too small nor too perfectly triangular. It's natural and elegant, and it works with every collar, from a spread to a point. Learn it, never forget it, always use it.
|Illustration: Brown Bird Design|
|Photo: Nathaniel Goldberg|
At GQ, we love a vibrantly striped repp tie or a boldly patterned club tie. But you're not going to see much in the way of dizzying paisleys or loud wallpaper prints. We're not into ties as conversation pieces. We like a tie that anchors an outfit. When we assemble one of our suit-and-tie stories, we almost always find ourselves reaching for solid or subtly patterned ties. They ground a busy shirt like a plaid or a gingham, and they stand strong against a crisp white or pale pink. They're fail-safe.
|Photo: David Rinella|
We're not saying you shouldn't own more than five ties, but if you owned only these, you'd be set for every outfit and every occasion.
From left to right:
In the middle of winter, you'll want a tie to pair with your heavier-weight suits.
For formalwear occasions, for a gray suit with a white shirt, or for a leather or jean jacket. Exceptionally versatile.
Like a polka-dot, but much smarter and more subtle.
Any tie with a repeating logo. Once just for the Ivy League set, now for anyone with serious style.
Still a Capitol Hill staple, but now cut skinny for the cool kids, too.
|Photo: Getty Images|
Seems like half the covers we shoot, our guy has his tie undone. It's one of those not-trying-at-all looks that actually take some trying.
• You don't want to resemble some broker who just lost a million bucks in the last twenty minutes. So stick with a slim, cool-guy tie—not a honking power tie.
• A little scruff always helps. It's the grooming equivalent of a loosened knot.
• And get the shirt right. A washed and worn oxford is your easiest option. But if you do go with a pressed shirt, keep it understated. Avoid those Euro ones with the stiff oversize collars; there's nothing easy and relaxed about them.
Illustration: Alexandra Compain-Tissler
The man who rebirthed the skinny tie makes his case
"A skinnier tie just feels of-the-moment right now. It's not too mainstream and not too traditional. And there's less material, so there's less potential for a color or pattern to feel garish or offensive. Plus, the way people dress is cyclical. What's rebellion and what's conformity flip-flop back and forth. For a long time, rebellion was a T-shirt and a trucker hat. Then, suddenly, that mess became conformity, and dressing up a little bit became a way to differentiate yourself. Take the Mad Men era: Back then, looking really fantastic was the way to conform, and rebellion was the beatnik in the T-shirt. And then it just flips. So right now, a well-tailored suit and skinny tie is cool. Right now, that's the mark of an individual."—Scott Sternberg, designer, Band of Outsiders
|Photo: Tom Schierlitz|
"There are very few ties that would work as well on Cary Grant as they would on the Beatles. But the black silk knit does, because it's both dressy and casual. It's always appropriate, whether you're dressing up in a gray wool suit with a crisp white dress shirt or going for a more sporty-stylish vibe and wearing it over a chambray denim shirt. We consider it the go-to seasonless tie; it adds lift to whatever you're wearing, no matter who you are."—Lisa Cohen, GQ senior fashion editor
|Photo: Tom Schierlitz|
10. Get All AccuWeathery and Match Your Tie to the Seasons
You should think of your tie as a way to fit in with the seasons— you know, like wearing white jeans in the summer. So if you're sporting a khaki or seersucker suit, pair it with a cotton tie. And come fall, if you're wearing tweed or flannel, reach for a woolly tie. Tiemakers these days are offering a ton of options on both sides of the seasonal spectrum. These ties provide instant personality without feeling gimmicky.
|Illustration: Jean-Philippe Delhomme|
Big, perfect knot? Not for Glenn O'Brien
"Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad." Thus spake Fleming in From Russia with Love. I believe the vanity judgment has to do with the knot's assertive size. I have noted that the Windsor's symmetry is also the mark of the anal-retentive, the control freak, and the overfastidious. In the 1970s, it was worn on the wide ties of the archetypal fussbudget Felix Unger of The Odd Couple, and today we see it flaunted on Italian dandies and other wearers of large collars. The Windsor is sometimes referred to as "the double military knot," and we've seen it on drill sergeants, state troopers, General Patton, and Adolf Hitler. Casual asymmetry is the charm of the four-in-hand. It goes with the flow, and no two are alike.
|Photo: David Rinella; Retna|
There are plenty of times in a man's life—most of them the result of an invitation that includes the word attire—when a bow tie is appropriate. For those occasions, we suggest a tie-it-yourself version in black. However, there's a new breed of bow tie—by labels like Band of Outsiders, Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, and Alexander Olch—that's much more versatile, much more...wearable. Trim yet dashing, it's the dapper man's version of the skinny straight tie. You can tie one on with almost anything, be it an easy cotton suit, a cardigan, or an oxford with the sleeves rolled up. Maybe you'll end up looking like André 3000 or some discriminating mixologist at a speakeasy cocktail joint. The point is, it's not about looking like a poindexter; it's about looking cool.
|llustration: Brown Bird Design|
Three ways to knot up with attitude
There's a difference between wearing a tie because you want to and because you have to. Here's how to have some fun—and look sharp—while tying one on.
In Milan, a rakish gent will twist the skinny length of his tie at the knot so that it runs alongside (instead of behind) the wider length.
You can also try tying the skinny length longer than the wider length. Yes, it's affected. That's the whole point.
If you're feeling more military than Milan, tuck your tie between your third and fourth buttons. Think Sinatra and Clift in From Here to Eternity.
|Illustration: Alexandra Compain-Tissler|
14. In Defense of the Big, Fat, Wide Tie
Tom Ford on why thin isn't always in:
"I've always preferred wider lapels and wider ties, as they seem more elegant and flattering to me. There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket. After so many seasons of jackets becoming smaller and smaller, they really could not get any narrower, and it seemed time to me to start making the shoulder stronger while still fitting the waist. I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."
|llustration: Michael Hoeweler|
15. "So I Bought the Damn Tie Bar. Now What?!"
If you haven't noticed, we're big fans of the tie bar here at GQ. And while we've been thrilled to see an uptick in real guys wearing them on the street, we've gotta say, some of you just aren't doing it right. So we asked GQ creative director Jim Moore to break down exactly how it's done
• "We see guys wearing their tie bar too high or too low all the time. The rule is simple: It goes between the third and fourth buttons of your dress shirt."
|Illustration: Michael Hoeweler|
• "It may sound obvious, but a tie bar doesn't just clip the front end of your tie to the back end. It fastens both ends to the placket of your shirt."
|Illustration: Michael Hoeweler|
• "Finally, never wear a tie bar that's wider than your tie. That's the worst! Keep things narrow."
|Photo: Mario Testino|
Slim down. If you want a modern look, go for a tie that's about two and a half inches wide.
• The tip of your tie should reach exactly to your beltline.
• The four-in-hand is the only tie knot you need to know. It goes with every shirt and suit.
• If patterns and colors confuse you, don't sweat it. A solid dark tie with a white or light-color shirt is a can't-miss combo.
• Buy a slim black silk knit tie and wear it with everything you own.
• Match your ties to your suiting fabrics— cotton ties with cotton suits in summer, wool ties with wool suits in winter.
• It's official: Bow ties are back, whether you want to wear one with your tux or with your cardigan. Buy one and learn to tie it.
View the full article over at GQ and please remember...