Ties are normally a constricting item in the male wardrobe, sometimes further limited to formal (read: not fun) events--weddings, fancy brunches, court appearances, what have you. But they are making some headway in casual wear (on a more socially "cool" level than before...thank you Jonas Brothers, Justin Timberlake and Andre 3000).
Specifically, the skinny tie is making quite the comeback, so I'm paying a wearability homage to the trimmed down descendant of the ascot
. Done right, the skinny tie adds a mod/nerd/rock-ish twist to any outfit. Three notes before proceeding:
Number one: Skinny ties do NOT go with everything you'd wear a normal tie with. Pay particular attention to the collar--a collar that is signficantly wider than the skinny tie makes your neck look disproportinately short and fat (and who really wants that?). Generally, skinny ties do not work well with spread collars (e.g. a pimp's unbuttoned shirt with the flashy shiny tiger print and chest hair sprouting up top), so don't plan to wear them like this unless you enjoy being publicly labeled as a tool. Otherwise, your run-of-the-mill dress shirt should do just fine.
Number two: A skinny tie requires a skinny knot
. A full windsor just looks silly with a skinny tie. I'm partial to the "4 in hand knot" - it's slightly asymmetrical, which goes well with a more casual look. Don't know how to tie this knot? Check this site out.
Number three: If you wear the skinny tie with a blazer, look at the width of the tie compared to the lapels. They should be approximately the same size, erring on the size of the lapels being slightly wider. But if the lapels are too wide, it will make your head look like a balloon, with the skinny tie as a little string trailing underneath trying desespearately to keep your head attached to your disproportional outfit.
With these guidelines in mind, the skinny tie is a lot of fun. Some things to try: go for a loud shirt and a solid tie (skinny black tie is the classic), or try a subtler shirt paired with a bolder tie pattern. Subtle Tie + Subtle Shirt = OK, if the colors have good contrast (like a white shirt and black tie or vice versa - monochrome doesn't work well with this look). Loud Shirt + Loud Tie may result in screams from children running away from you, the Technicolor Monster. This is not for the faint of heart; mixing patterns/colors is really a matter of personal taste so I can't be too judgmental, but it's pretty easy to mess up this combination so proceed with caution. When you throw on a collared long sleeve shirt - throw on a skinny tie and see what it does for you.
Club Monaco has some really cool bold stripe skinny ties and your nearest Nordstrom Rack will carry some older (but more affordable and ever-so-stylish!) skinny ties from the likes of Ben Sherman and Paul Smith. Otherwise, venture out to your nearest vintage clothing shop to score some super cheap ties - you can usually find a skinny black tie for $5.
Anyway, I had some extra time to kill this weekend so I did a mini-shoot featuring me and stuff that I have in my closet that I've mixed and matched with skinny ties. My favorite look is the brown tie with a light blue gingham shirt and a pair of dark-ish blue jeans. I tried to cover a range of looks, from casual, to going out on the town, to business casual, to a more everyday look.
Note that while skinny ties are the "in" thing now, you can still wear regular-sized ties as well. It's really just about adding personal flair by throwing on a tie to spice up a look - but in a good, non-TGIFridays sort of way.