Tag Archives: Ties

Ties 101 – It’s all about simplicity.

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to conduct a full wardrobe analysis for a few different clients.  In most cases a theme started to emerge whereby the client lamented the difficulty of finding tie combinations to go with their shirts and suits.  This despite the fact that in most cases the tie collections were in excess of 20 ties!

Ties 101 – It’s all about simplicity.

The reason for their struggles was immediately evident – in almost every case the tie rack was an explosion of multiple colors and patterns.  When pressed to pick out their top five without fail the most calm and basic styles were the ones that emerged from the chaos.  Which leads us to the golden rule when it comes to ties and clothing in general – that less truly is more.

Less is more.

When we talk about less is more we’re referring to both the design of the tie as well having a very curated selection to keep things versatile and orderly.  May I remind you to keep the 90% rule of the menswear game in mind – that 90% of all suits sold are either navy or grey; and that 90% of the shirts sold are in white, baby blue or a combination of the two.  As such when you’re starting to build your wardrobe it’s crucial to get the basic elements right from the outset. There is a reason for the 90% rule – each element works seamlessly with the other.  The same goes for ties.

With that in mind here are the four keys to mastering simplicity:

1. Start with plains.

Far too often the word plain gets a bad rap for being boring – I couldn’t disagree more.  Just because a tie is ornamental doesn’t mean it has to be loud – I’ll take understated and elegant every time.  With that in mind you’ll need the following basic colors:

Navy Ties

Above is the classic navy; below is the classic silver and grey.  Both options are always classy, always in fashion and appropriate for every conceivable scenario from business to pleasure.

Grey Ties

The next four – a deep burgundy, a deep green, brown and a rich purple.  The shade can slightly change but make sure you maintain a richness and depth in the cloth and color.

Green, Burgundy, Brown and Purple.

A key to the plain tie – don’t stick to one style.  Wool ties are fantastic and can add a wonderful level of depth to an outfit.  The yarns also take color in a very particular way thus they have a very unique appearance.  As a result you could have three different shades of navy/blue easily in your collection.  The same goes for silk – in this case the style of weave creates a wide range of different looks.  It can be textured and create depth or it can be tightly woven and flat; each reflects light in its own way and as a result it can elevate or reduce the formality of the tie.  A loose rule of thumb – the more sheen due to reflection the more formal the tie.

2. Add some dots for a hint of flair.

This is a simple way to begin pushing your boundaries ever so slightly.  The contrast of the dots is a lovely way to introduce other colors or simply to lighten the look by adding some visual interest to a plain base.  Here are some examples from the basic navy and grey family:


And now from the other big four colors:

dots #2

3. Subtle pattern.

For those of you who fear being branded too conservative here are a few subtle options for delving into the world of pattern.

Subtle pattern.

Again it’s got everything to do with textures and weave – more often than not this is how we create pattern as opposed to sharp and abrupt contrasts.  This is also a way for us to involve different shades of our core colors to create a more visually interesting backdrop.

Subtle pattern #2

A final statistic for you – this post shows 23 different ties.  7 grey, 6 navy/blue, 4 brown, 2 each of green, burgundy and purple.  There is a range of material, textures and shades of the color within each grouping.  Hopefully this allows you to see the variety that is possible within a very specific and core color base.  This is important to note as it enables your shirts and suits to all pair perfectly together.  The joy of simplicity.

4. Two out of three rule.

Last but not least is the two out of three rule.  This applies to the trinity of the suit, shirt and tie. Essentially it means that two elements should be calm and grounded while the third can be equally grounded or add pop if you prefer.

Wearing a loud and expressive suit; it’s best to ground the look with a subtle shirt and tie combination.  Loud and expressive shirt; ground the look with a neutral suit and tie.  I think you get the point.

As always I’d love to hear your opinions on this or any sartorial subject for that matter.  Better yet book a free appointment and we can banter in person and see if we might be a good fit to work together.

Take care – Michael