Style Dilemma: Tie Width

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FashionMisters growing in their sartorial expertise can find it difficult to navigate through the trends of the fashion world.  As has been said, fashion and style are different things, the former more fleeting, the latter more permanent, the former more corporatized, the latter more personal.  It should be a gentleman’s goal to develop his own sense of style, informed but not dictated by the whims of fashion.  You must develop a personal style you can carry with you all your life.  To that end, we want to address the issue of necktie width, which has been in flux for some time now.

Since its invention more than 200 years ago, the necktie has waxed and waned according to tastes.  In the latter half of the 19th Century, it was exceptionally narrow so that it might be more easily tied by the masses who adopted it in place of the cravat.  Through the early decades of the 20th Century, ties widened considerably as they became home to elaborate designs and wild decoration.  In the 1950’s, ties narrowed in response to the slim suiting of the period, and they continued to narrow until the late 60’s, where they then widened, and stayed wide through the 70’s.  In the 1980’s, ties widened again, though a brief period of extremely skinny ties came and went.  Wide ties persisted through the 1990’s and the first decade of the 21st Century, until around 2008 when the world of fashion went through another phase of slim tailoring such as we saw in the 50’s; neckties narrowed once more.

The exhaustive history of necktie width should be a sufficient primer on how fickle the world of fashion can be.  It is difficult for a FashionMR to establish a permanent position on tie width based solely on trends.  What we recommend is to choose your tie width based on proportion.  It should be your own body, and the other clothes you wear, that determine how wide your ties are, not whatever appears in the latest runway show.  If you are a tall and slender gentleman, you’ll want to wear your ties slim.  If you are shorter and huskier, a wider tie will better suit your build.  The neutral tie width is between 3 and 3 1/2 inches, so those with average or athletic builds will want to reside there.  It is also a good rule of thumb to match the width of your ties to the width of your jacket lapels.  That is a matter of proportion, just like your body shape.  Find clothes that suit you- not a model, not a mannequin.

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