The Five Styles of Ties Every Guy (even a minimalist) Needs
About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.
The concept is simple: pick one tie out of each of the following categories and you’ll be set to tackle every tie-mandatory situation that life may throw at you. These are the essential five ties that’ll cover everything from weddings to interviews, office life, travel, and even leisure (if you’re the type to wear a tie while dressed down). Every tie on this list meets the following criteria:
- Pairs well with white and blue shirts.
- Pairs well with navy and charcoal jackets.
- Appropriate in a wide variety of situations.
#1. The Mandatory Solid Black Textured Tie
The Why: A black textured tie is the perfect choice for more formal events. It’s most often found at funerals, memorials, or other events where style takes a back seat to respect. So while you might not use it as often, a black tie is something you’ll need to have in your arsenal. Solid black ties are also a stylish option when attending concerts, private art galleries, and other fine arts events. Ian Flemming often had James Bond wearing a black knit tie in his books. Even with a navy suit. Yes, really.
- Charles Tyrwhitt 3.33″ Woven plain – $49 (but always on sale). As traditional as it gets. The texture adds depth, a feature that’s required in black ties: sleek silk or satin black ties can often come across as cheap.
- Kent Wang 3″ or 3.5″ Grenadine – $75. Possibly the perfect funeral tie (if such a thing can exist). It might be worth spending more for those times when conveying respect is of the utmost importance.
- TheTieBar Black 3” Grenafaux or Black 3” Solid Texture – $15. TheTieBar’s Grenafaux is an inexpensive option that ticks all of the right boxes. The solid texture tie is a little more subtle thanks to a lack of shine.
#2. The Essential Navy or Deep Blue Tie
The Why: Navy ties are a staple in every man’s wardrobe. In fact, most men could probably get by with a closet filled only with navy ties. Solid navy ties are one of the most traditional choices for interviews. Pindot navy ties are equally beautiful (if less conservative), and offer a bit more flair.
- Brooks Brothers 3.25” Solid Textured Navy or Dot Repp – $79.50. Gorgeous, and holds up well to regular wear. A high regular price, so it’s worth the wait for a seasonal sale or purchasing two in-store for the 30% off discount.
- Nordstrom Calibrate 3” Navy Solid or Pindot Woven Silk – $49.50. Look for these at Nordstrom Rack locations, where you can find them for sometimes as low as $15. The pindot is busier than most, since there are woven circles in the space between each pindot that add texture to the tie. Good for a business casual workplace.
- TheTieBar 3” Grenafaux in Navy or Navy w/ white Dot – $15. The solid navy is the best budget interview tie out there. Conservative, classy, versatile; this tie is a winner. The white dots are a little less formal.
#3. The Indispensable Burgundy Tie
The Why: Burgundy is the second most versatile tie color after navy. A burgundy tie can come across as confident and assertive, and it makes an excellent choice for an interview. Solid burgundy ties are less aggressive than their brighter red cousins. Pindot burgundy ties are a timeless and classic style.
- TheTieBar 3” Solid Texture – $15. The solid texture burgundy tie is another nicely priced interview tie. It’s a much better option than the burgundy Grenafaux,which comes across as unpleasantly bright and shiny.
- TheTieBar 3″ Solid Wool Tie – $15. 70% wool/30% silk. Try it with dark denim, an OCBD, and a charcoal sport coat.
- Brooks Brothers 3.25” Dot Repp Tie – $79.50. A timeless classic. The pin dots on this tie are a light blue, whereas the pin dots on the other ties are white. That light blue tones down the aggressiveness of the burgundy.
- Charles Tyrwhitt 3.3” Woven Burgundy & White Textured – $49. A gem, but of course, wait for a sale. It’s a dressed-up version of the classic pindot burgundy tie. Highly recommended.
#4. The Paramount Striped Tie
The Why: It’s easy to go off the deep end when it comes to patterned ties, but a classic diagonally-striped tie will never go out of style. Striped ties are more visually complex than a solid or pindot die. They offer a chance to display some individualism. That being said, great reward comes with greater risk: striped ties can quickly veer into undesirable territory. Stick with something classic and timeless unless you’ve got a real strong personal sense of style.
- Brooks Brothers 3.25” Repp in Burgundy/Navy – $79.50. 3.25” is a classic width, and the burgundy/navy stripes pair well with both navy and charcoal suits. This tie is work appropriate and subjectively more interesting than a solid navy satin tie.
- Charles Tyrwhitt 3.3” Handmade Grey Wool Stripe – $85. A splurge, but perfect for casual settings. This tie was made to be worn with dark denim and an OCBD. The stripes pair well with white, light blue, navy, and all shades of grey.
- TheTieBar 3” Navy Wool Stripe or 3” Navy/White Stripe – $15. The rougher texture of the 70/30 wool/silk mix means that it can be dressed down for the weekend. The 100% silk navy/white stripe variation is a more formal, all-season tie.
#5. The Obligatory Glen Plaid Tie
The Why: Glen plaid is one of the most versatile, more intricate patterns that a man can have in his tie drawer. A grey glen plaid pattern compliments most if not all of the common shirt and jacket colors and textures. The style is equally at home in casual and formal settings. It is office appropriate under a suit, and looks great on the weekend when paired with a white OCBD with the sleeves rolled up. Glen plaid ties have gained a reputation as wedding ties in the men’s style community, and they’re frequently worn at weddings by both guests and grooms.
- Brooks Brothers 3.25″ Golden Fleece® Saxxon™ Wool in Navy – $67.50. A non-traditional choice since it’s made with a blend of wool and silk, but the texture adds depth and character.
- Kent Wang 3″ or 3.5″ Glen Plaid – $85. An excellent wedding, special event, or heritage tie. The pattern on this tie is beautifully centered.
- TheTieBar 3.5” Glen H. Plaid, 3” Glen H. Plaid, or 3” Wool Glen – $15. TheTieBar’s Glen H. Plaid ties are the best value in this style. Don’t confuse the Glen H. Plaid ties with the far less attractive “Spring Glen”. TheTieBar often misses the mark with its patterned ties, but this one is spot on. This may just be the perfect groomsmen or wedding party tie.
MEANWHILE, about the brands chosen above (and their prices)
Brooks Brothers: Their ties are a splurge at their full price of $59.50-$89.95, but their ties are frequently included in Brooks Brothers regular seasonal sales. The seasonal sales typically stack with their regular in-store 30% off multiple purchase discount. These sales put most of their ties in the $35-40 range. Additionally, Brooks Brothers offers last season’s ties through their clearance section for 50-75% off.
Charles Tyrwhitt: The regular price of $49-$85 for a tie is absurd, but their ties are frequently discounted. Never pay full price for anything at Charles Tyrwhitt. Expect to pay $20-30 for these ties. Alternatively, keep an eye out for their frequent free tie promotions that offer a tie for free with the purchase of a shirt. The catch? You’re on the hook for shipping. In other words, the true cost of the tie is effectively the $9.95 shipping fee.
Kent Wang: These ties are out of reach for most of us at $85 per tie. They have an excellent reputation in the style community for quality and service. These are heritage ties for an important life event.
Nordstrom/Calibrate: This house brands is a reliable (if not particularly inspiring) choice. The Calibrate line is massively overpriced at retail, but they’re easy to find at Nordstrom Rack outlet stores for $15, and at that point they’re a favorable comparison to TheTieBar. Speaking of…
TheTieBar: These guys have established themselves as the go-to source for inexpensive ties. The quality of TheTieBar ties isn’t the best, but they’re durable enough for daily work wear. They’re the perfect option for someone who wants a reliable, inexpensive tie and doesn’t want to invest in a more expensive option. And chances are, they’ll have whatever style you’re looking for.
NOTE: This post was limited to the long-style, necktie necessities. Bowties weren’t included. But if someone is buying a tuxedo, they’ll obviously want to pick up their own black, self-tie (not pre-tied) bow tie to go with it.