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What is a Necktie? The Ultimate Guide to Wearing a Tie

Ever wonder why a simple piece of fabric around your neck makes such a big statement? From boardrooms to black-tie events, the necktie has become synonymous with respect and decorum. But why does it hold such power? What is a necktie, anyways? Let's explore by looking at the different types of popular ties, how to choose a tie, as well as the history of how ties came to be.

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Five Ties Every Man Should Know

Let's explore five ties every man should have in his wardrobe:

  1. The Standard Necktie: The versatile go-to for both social and professional events. Its classic design makes it suitable for a wide range of occasions, from business meetings to weddings.

2. The Skinny Tie: With its edgy retro vibe, the skinny tie is perfect for making a statement at social gatherings. Originating in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it adds a touch of modern style to any outfit.

3. The Bow Tie: A timeless choice that exudes sophistication. While often associated with formal events like black tie, it can also be charming for more casual wear. The bow tie's origins can be traced back to the 17th century when Croatian mercenaries used it to hold together the opening of their shirts.

4. The Neckerchief: Perfect for casual occasions when you want to add some color and personal flair but a tie would be too formal. For an even more casual look, try a bandana. This accessory was popularized by French military forces in the 19th century and has since evolved into a fashion staple.

5. The Bolo Tie: This western wear staple features a leather cord secured by an ornamental clasp and adds a touch of the wild west to your outfit. Officially made the neckwear of Arizona in 1971, it reflects a rich cultural heritage.

Choosing the Right Necktie

Choosing the right necktie involves several considerations:

  • Matching the Formality: The formality of the occasion is crucial. A black-tie event demands different attire compared to a casual get-together. Remember, solids are generally more formal, while bold patterns are more casual.
  • Coordinating with Your Outfit: For a cohesive look, coordinate your tie with your outfit. Traditionally, the tie should be a complementary color darker than the shirt but lighter than the suit. That said, fashion rules are made to be broken, and monochrome is currently trending.
  • Proportion Matters: For the most flattering look, consider the proportion of your tie. A good rule of thumb is to match the width of your tie to your lapels. Additionally, think about your own physique. Narrow lapels and ties look best on thinner or taller frames, while if you have a muscular build (or just a few extra pounds on your midsection) wider lapels and ties tend to be more flattering.

The Historical Journey of the Necktie

Now, let's travel back in time to discover how a 400-year-old neckerchief worn by mercenaries became the epitome of refinement.

Our journey begins during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) when France hired Croatian mercenaries who sported stylish red knotted neckerchiefs as part of their uniform. These neckerchiefs were practical, helping to secure the tops of their shirts, but they also had a decorative function.

The young French king, Louis XIV, was so impressed with the look that he adopted it himself and soon made them a mandatory accessory for royal functions in France. This act helped transform the simple neckerchief into a fashion statement, making it a must-have for nobility across Europe. Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, turned France into the leading fashion influence in Europe, shifting the fashion capital from Spain to France during the 17th century.

Over time, this neckerchief evolved into various forms of neckwear, including the cravat in the 18th century and eventually the modern necktie in the 19th and 20th centuries. The cravat became popular among the British aristocracy and was an essential part of a gentleman's wardrobe. By the 1920s, the necktie as we know it today had taken shape, influenced by American and British styles.


Ties have come a long way from their utilitarian origins to become symbols of elegance and status. Whether it's the standard necktie, the skinny tie, the bow tie, the neckerchief, or the bolo tie, there are countless ways to express personal style and sophistication through this simple yet powerful accessory.