Julie Rath: How to Choose the Right Tie Width

Skinny, and even slim ties, are not one size fits all. Check out GQ’s August 2010 cover above featuring Zac Galifianakis ridiculously sporting a tie barely two inches wide. While super skinny ties have had their moment (and thankfully seem to be on their way out), one of the most important considerations you can make when getting dressed is scale, i.e. matching the size of the things you put on your body to your body. This creates balance and visual harmony, which is a nice way of saying, I am trying to help you not look like a lollipop.

See how much better Galifianakis looks with a slightly broader tie? It complements the width of his face and large scale of his facial features, whereas the pencil-thin version only emphasizes them.

Bottom line. If you have a broad face and neck, you’re best off with a wider tie. You don’t have to go for the lobster-bib look of the 80’s and 90’s, but consider something in the 3 ¾ -4″ range depending on your size. This way you’ll look more well-proportioned and less tootsie pop. If your face and neck are more average width, you can select a more modern, slim tie, somewhere between 3” and 3 ½” across. Of course, your tie at its widest point should equal your jacket lapel at its widest point, and there are ways to determine that. Stay tuned for more posts on proportion as it relates to other elements of your wardrobe, as it truly is the foundation of sartorial distinction.

It can be difficult to be objective about your body shape and scale. So, if you’d like advice that’s actually tailored to you, contact me for a body shape strategy session. I will show you which clothing proportions suit you best and why. This can be done in person in the NYC-area or by Skype and email.


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