Tie a Tie: Man Rules on Wearing Neckties

Ties are the be-all, know-all to acting good and looking even better. So suit up, boys - it's time to get tied up.
 Bradley Thurber for Hombre Magazine

See our experts answer your tie questions in Exec Digital's December issue.


It’s time to get down to the specifics – from where a bold print can be a detriment to a crucial meeting, to the endless array of knots (don’t think Windsor is your only option). With the help of some industry experts, Exec Digital found out just where it’s appropriate to wear your favorite plaid tie, learned that the Windsor isn’t just for Jeremy Piven and that adding a tie is the easiest way to accent your style.

Can I wear this here?

“Use your judgment. Nowadays, many work environments don’t require a suit and tie; it tends to be a bit more casual, so I don’t see why you can’t have a little fun with your look. Of course, if you’re a lawyer, don’t show up to the courtroom in a loud pattern tie. You want to be taken seriously, right?”

Colin T. McDonald, personal stylist/ brand ambassador

Where to wear?

“I try to personally look at men’s ties like women’s jewelry because [a tie] really has to fit your personality and where you’re going. I think a tie-shirt combination is very personality based; there are certain rules, of course (think tie knot/ shirt collar ratio), but other than that, it’s 2011 and there really are no rules. Fit is the most important thing – neck tie and collar proportion is the most important.”

Amy Acton, style consultant

“Silk ties continue to be the most popular; narrower ties tend to be the choice of your younger professionals; the bowtie is also making a comeback and a favorite of mine; [the bowtie] works well with the whole ‘dandy’ trend we’re seeing season after season in menswear.”

Colin T. McDonald, personal stylist/ brand ambassador

What’s with your Knot?

 “The Windsor, sadly, it’s the knot that everyone knows. It really is a knot that should only be worn with a larger man with a widespread collar, large neck or larger head. We can thank Jeremy Piven of Entourage for the debacle of the ‘common, regular guy’ thinking that he can pull that off. Perhaps men equate their tie knot to their gentleman-hood.”

Amy Acton, style consultant

The knots:

·         “Four-in-Hand knot: Most common knot and works well with just about any shirt.  Great for men of medium to tall length.  


·         “Double Knot: Very similar to the Four-in-Hand knot with the exception of just one more layover. 


·         “Windsor Knot: Great for special occasions and perfect for those wide collared shirts.  


·         “Half Windsor: Similar to the Full Windsor with the exception of the bulkiness.  Works well with just about any shirt. 


·         “Small Knot:  Perfect for those heavier fabrics like wool and close collared shirts.  Do not use on collars that are long or wide.  Avoid if you tend to be on the heavier side.  It will distort the body and bring attention to your weight.”


Colin T. McDonald, personal stylist/ brand ambassador


To tie? Or not to tie?

“With these economic times, I do notice more men suited up – wearing a tie and jacket, where they would have just worn khaki and sports coat before.”

Amy Acton, style consultant   

“Bow-tie generally was worn for black-tie events only. However, it’s making a comeback and being worn to more for different occasions.”

Colin T. McDonald, personal stylist/brand ambassador

A color palate

“Red's means he's passionate about what he does, is a go-getter and doesn't take no for an answer. Blue means he's very easy going and can be easily swayed.  Great Tip: Perfect choice for those hostile meetings and/or appointments.  It tends to keep the mood somber and relaxed.

“Yellow and greenish tones means he's very energetic, full of life and has a positive outlook on most things. I love the mixing of a yellow tie with a navy suit. Both colors play off each other very well!

“Black's, gray's and brownish tones tend to be worn by a man who enjoys a routine, doesn't like to show off much and tends to be a bit stiff.  A great choice for your more formal occasion. A silk tie tends to be worn by more of an older executive.  He most generally works in a corporate environment.  

“More creative or fashion forward guys will branch out and wear a cotton, knitted or wool based tie. When it comes to prints, conservative guys will stick to basics like stripes and subtle prints; fashion-forward /creative guys will try more exotic patterns like animal prints.”

Colin T. McDonald, personal stylist/brand ambassador


Amy Acton is a professional style consultant based in New York City. You can learn more about Amy by visiting her website.

Colin T. McDonald is an emerging stylist out of New York who commentates to respected and notable critics, and consults with top and emerging brands as a brand ambassador.  For more information, please visit his websiteor follow him on Twitter at Styleexpert00.   

Join Businessfriend today. Where social networking leads to productivity

Featured Articles + MORE Featured Articles >>