For all their ubiquity in the workplace, many men don’t know all that much about which tie is appropriate for given situations in work and life.
We spoke to style expert Jacqui Stafford to get some tips that would be useful to any professional man.
Here’s how to pick out a tie for seven common work occasions.
For a routine work day:
“Men are relatively limited in what they can wear in a corporate environment, so a different-coloured shirt might be really outlandish, but a tie can certainly register your personality,” Stafford says. “I’m a big fan of a conservative tie with a little twist.”
She points to Thomas Pink’s line of animal print ties as an example. The various patterns of rabbits and elephants, for instance, aren’t immediately obvious but can be seen when you look closely.
You don’t have to go full suit to wear a tie, either. They can also work well with a sweater.
“A fabulous brightly coloured tie with a nice print or pattern on it with a solid sweater looks very professional,” Stafford says. “If you’re going to do a solid sweater or solid v-neck, you can incorporate a bit of colour or print in your tie.”
For an important presentation:
For a big meeting where all eyes are on you, Stafford suggests choosing a tie with a bold print. Rather than the
everyday stripe, you could opt for a paisley print, for example.
“If you go for a very conservative suit or shirt and a very vibrant tie, that registers your personality and registers more authority,” says Stafford. It also shows great confidence if you’re willing to wear a tie that’s a bit more novel.
Additionally, she suggests using a wider or European knot, like the Prince Albert, and a spread shirt collar for an important meeting.
For a job interview:
In a job interview, like in a pitch meeting, Stafford suggests choosing a tie with a twist that will help you stand out. That does not mean a joke tie, which should always be avoided, but it can be something subtle like an unusual pattern on the underside of a solid tie.
“A tie really does register your confidence,” Stafford says. And in a creative field, you have more freedom to try something different. While you should still wear a conservative suit to the interview, she recommends displaying your creativity with a tie that has a bold colour, subtle animal print, or an interesting fabric such as a knit.
These can also be good talking-point accessories, she says.
For a networking event:
A tie that’s a great conversation starter may actually help you make connections. “Look for bold colours or an unusual print to garner compliments and break the ice,” Stafford says.
While you should avoid slogans and silly patterns, step it up beyond the usual blue or red stripes. And if you’re wearing a pocket square, make sure that you coordinate it with at least one colour on the tie.
For a formal event:
“Nothing looks better on a man for a formal event than a traditional black tie against a crisp white shirt,” Stafford says.
A black and white polka dot print is another classic option.
For an office holiday party:
An off-site event like a holiday party can be a great time to wear something festive. However, Stafford says a holiday-specific design — Santa and reindeer, for example — would be taking it too far.
A rich colour or jewel tone like a teal or deep purple would be a good direction to go, she says.
For a television appearance:
“When you’re on television you never want to go with anything with a stripe, which has a strobing effect on the eyes,” Stafford advises.
Instead go for a nice, brightly coloured solid tie, which stands out without distracting the viewer.
“That way the attention is going to be on your face rather than on your neckwear,” Stafford adds.
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