Ties — wide or skinny?

Your quick guide to tie widths

robinson dapper the classic claret tie

Business, classic, or perhaps retro? What does the width of your tie say about your style?

In essence, a tie is an odd thing. It is a piece of fabric around one's neck that has no practical purpose — and gets a bit uncomfortable when worn for a whole day.

Tie width measurement

A tie's width is measured at its widest point.

But in several cultures, wearing a tie can have various connotations: signalling style, professionalism, being in control — or having lost it, depending on the style of the tie. Exactly what you signal depends to a large extent on the width of the tie as measured at its widest point.

In fashion, 4-6 cm

Trends change all the time, but the skinny tie — that has at times been considered a little 'progressive' — is currently in style. 6 cm would be considered moderately skinny while 5 cm is "standard hipster skinny". 4 is extreme while still retaining the shape of a tie.  

Business, 6-8 cm

A rule of thumb if you are after a classic business style, is that the tie should be as wide as the lapel of the suit you are wearing it with. It's that simple. This often translates to 6-8 cm — current slim fit suits have lapels at the lower end of this spectrum.

Suit drawing lapel width

The width of a suit's lapel should match the width of the tie.

Classic, 7 cm

Of course, you can wear a tie without a suit and still be after a classic style. Or just want to have a nice all-rounder at hand. In that case, 7 cm is a pretty safe bet. A "neutral" tie.

Old-fashioned, 8-10 cm

If you like wearing non-slim fitting suits and/or you are well built, a wider tie could work well. Generally, wider ties need to be subdued in both colour and pattern so as not to become too dominant. A wide tie tends to be perceived as less "slick", or a bit old-fashioned. 

Retro, 10+ cm

Anything above 10cm will appear as if it was snatched from the 1970s. If you are going to a costume party, or just making a statement, 10+ is for you.