Need to impress an important client? Put on a tie… Need to give a presentation to the board of directors? Put on a tie… Attending a job interview? Put on a tie… It seems as though everybody’s come to a social acceptance about wearing ties. If you need to “dress up” for any reason, just put on a tie. And that the tie has become the ubiquitous accessory that separates the formal from the casual… Except, is it really?… Did you know that even within a wardrobe full of ties, there’s a varying degree of formality to take note of? Well, there is, and we’ll go through what makes one tie more formal than another.
Different Levels Of Formality In Menswear
We’ve shared that suits or jackets, dress shoes, shirts, and even pocket squares come in various formality levels. And yes, there’s also a difference in formality levels for ties too. But before we proceed, let’s revisit the different formality levels once again.
|Formality Level||Types Of Base Attire|
|#1||Business Formal (Conservative Dark Suit)|
|#2||Business Semi-Formal (More “Lively” Suit)|
|#3||Business Informal (Blazer Combo)|
|#4||Business Casual (Sport Jacket Combo)|
|#5||Casual (Casual Jacket Combo)|
As with the other garments, the “rules” are pretty much similar. Darker shades are more formal than lighter shades. Neutral tones are more formal than “louder” tones. Solid colours are more formal than textures or patterns. Within patterns, small geometric or repeating patterns are more formal than bold patterns. And stripes are more formal than checks or plaids, which in turn are more formal than non-repeating patterns. Also, finer patterns are generally more formal than bolder patterns.
Different Ties For Different Formality Levels
You’ll more or less be able to gauge the general formality based on these “rules” alone. So how do we apply these “rules” to the ties? Let’s take a look at some visual examples :-
(1) Solid Coloured Tie
Unless you’re attending a funeral, or you work in a funeral parlour, refrain from wearing black suits and black ties. That aside, the general consensus is that the darker the shade, the more formal they are. Even a hint of colour makes the difference. The darker the shade, the more formal it is. On the opposite end, the brighter the colour or the lower the contrast, the more casual it is. Here are some examples of various types of ties on a solid charcoal grey suit jacket and solid white shirt.
(2) Small Geometric Or Repeating Pattern Tie
Solid colours are boring, especially when you want to express a little more fun. When you have a slight bounce to your gait, or a twinkle in your eye, you’ll want something less mundane. But you also don’t want to go overboard either. This is where small geometric or repeating patterns come into play.
(3) Regimental Stripe Tie
Enough with the subtle patterns. You’re bold, and you want to express it. And small repeating patterns isn’t making a roar loud enough to be heard. It’s time to bring in the regimental stripes.
(4) Not-So-Traditional Tie Patterns
The not-so-traditional patterns aren’t exactly uncommon. In fact, some may argue that the not-so-traditional patterns sell better than the traditional ones. I suppose the fact that these patterns break away from the mundane uniform look actually encourages sale. Convention dictates that you have to wear a tie. But it doesn’t dictate that you have to stick to boring old solids or traditional patterns. There are too many different types of patterns to fully classify, so here’s a couple of common examples :-
Then there are also the bold paisley patterns, batik prints, and even novelty prints. Except for novelty ties, you can safely wear the others on formality levels #3 and #4. Just make sure to keep your Santa Claus printed tie to your Christmas parties only.
And That’s Not Even All The Ties That Exist
The variety of examples above may look intimidating, but we’ve only touched on the “regular” ties. These generally use woven fabric, and folded into its characteristic shapes. You may have heard descriptions like “three-fold ties” or “seven-fold ties”. For the next episode, we’ll take a look at the not-so-common knit ties. In the meantime, do participate in the poll below. And feel free to drop a comment below the poll too. But if you’d rather just pull the trigger and seek personal branding consultancy, look up Solarex Imaging.