proper & correct tie length

Proper & Correct Tie Length Explained

Whenever we post outfit pictures on our social channels like Facebook or Instagram, one of the most discussed things is the proper length of the tie. It’s interesting to see all the different rules that come up, do’s and don’ts and different opinions and therefore, this guide is here to bring some clarity for you so you can find the tie in the right length and that flatters you.



Short Tie 1930s style by Ethan Wong

Short Tie 1930s style by Ethan Wong

The History Of The Tie – Why Men Started Wearing Ties

It was purely decorative and served no functional purpose whatsoever; So the only goal of it was to make you look good. Keeping that in mind, it’s hard to argue that one thing is more correct than the other. For example, if you look at the 1920’s and 1930’s, most men would wear a vest or waistcoat and even if they wouldn’t, their ties were rather short. They would either reach the belly button or sometimes not even that. Of course, they would also wear high-waisted trousers so they might have impacted the length.

Bertie with four in hand tie

Bertie with four in hand tie

Today, ties have definitely gotten longer but the overall length of the tie is hugely impacted by the balance between your front wide blade and back slim blade.

Basically, you have three options:

  1.  The front blade be as long as the back blade
  2. The front blade longer than the back blade
  3. The front blade shorter than the back blade

Because a tie has a fixed length, this balance really impacts how long your tie will be when it’s tied. But it’s not all, other factors that affect the length are:

  1. What knot you choose to wear.
  2. What kind of tie you have. Does it have a thick interlining? It’s very thick if so, it creates a thick knot. For a thinner tie, it creates a thinner knot and therefore the tie is longer.

Of course, these three variations can be worn either in short, very long or just in the middle of the waistband. So as you can see, your variations are endless and just saying “Oh, tie your tie so the tip reaches your waistband or the buckle of your belt.” is much easier said than done. Before we get more into the length, let’s look at the details of the different options and how they make you look.

When your tie is overall very short, it provides you a vintage look or in the worst case, it can make you look like a child. So keep that in mind if you like very short ties. Of course, if you’re a shorter guy, you need a shorter tie.

Short Vintage Tie - excellent if you are a shorter man

Short Vintage Tie – excellent if you are a shorter man

So when the wide front blade is much longer than the back blade, chances are that it extends past your waistband and it peeks out underneath of your jacket, that’s visually distracting because people look down and the triangular shape of the tie highlights your crotch which is very disadvantageous. Because of that, we suggest not to wear a tie like that but of course, each to his own.

If you decide to go that way, a problem that you might face is that your shorter, slimmer blade is not long enough to get into the keeper and if it peeks out to the side, it just looks like your tie is too short and you just got it from your younger brother.

To Use Or Not To Use A Keeper?

Personally, I don’t use a keeper but I also prefer to tie my tie so both blades have about the same length. That way, it looks a little more casual, a little more nonchalant and it’s a look that I personally enjoy.

Traditionally it was something that was used by people but if you look at elegant men today, they often want a sprezzatura feel with their tie and they intentionally do not use that keeper loop in the back. In any case, you should never use scotch tape or any kind of glue because it looks cheap.

Donald Trump with tape on his tie at Indianapolis International Airport Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis

Donald Trump with tape on his tie at Indianapolis International Airport Dec. 1, 2016, in Indianapolis

Sometimes, you can also see ties where the back blade is considerably longer and just like if the front is longer, it dangles past your waistband unless it is tucked in. Because it’s a little slimmer, it’s less distracting but in my opinion, it still highlights the wrong part of your outfit. Originally, this was a style favored by Gianni Agnelli and he definitely popularized it. Today, you can see a lot of young men wearing it but also some more seasoned chaps like Francesco Barberis Canonico.

Again, the way you wear your tie is an expression of your individual style and there’s absolute no right or wrong. What matters is that you do it consciously and that you can repeat it every single time.

Another important element of the tie besides the length is the tie dimple. Make it a point to always wear it with your tie so you look more dapper.

Tie tucked into waistband

Tie tucked into waistband – not a look we recommend. Instead, get a tie in the right size.

Personally, I think it’s best when the front blade and back blade tips are roughly the same length and just reach the waistband of your pants. Now, think about that for a second, every pair of pants is different, it has a slightly different rise and in combination with every tie being different, there are lots of variations. Some others argue the tips should be slightly longer and reach the buttonhole. Others shorter, some like it longer and past the waistband.

I like the waistband idea because that way, the tie does not peek out from underneath your jacket and it focus the viewer’s attention to your face because of the V-shape of your jacket and the tie on top. If you always wear one kind of knot and all your ties are about the same length, it’s relatively easy and predictable how you have to tie your tie and how you have to start to get the right length you want. However personally, I find that with the different knots I tie, the ties I have, I usually have a range of different lengths. For me, that’s shorter lengths for high-rise trousers and smaller knots. About regular length for slightly bigger tie knots and pants that don’t come up as high.

Overall, I’m not a big fan of Windsor knots that’s why I avoid long ties but if you like the half-Windsor or the full Windsor, you will need a long tie even if you’re just regular height if you want to have both blades be the same length. Unfortunately, most ties don’t come in a general length and so you actually have to try things out until you find out what works for you and what doesn’t. It takes a lot of trial and error and you have to practice but once you know what length your tie is and how long it has to be with a particular knot, it’s going to be much easier for you to get the tie length right.

What Does That Mean For A Proper Tie Length?

No one will win this argument because there’s no absolute right or wrong, what matters is what you personally like. I think that most men look best with a back blade and the front blade being about the same length ending just above the waistband.

Proper & Correct Tie Length Explained
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Proper & Correct Tie Length Explained
A detailed guide to the proper tie length and tips to finding out the right length that flatters you.
Gentleman's Gazette LLC
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20 replies
  1. Christopher Lee says:

    Though I am careful with unknotting and hang my ties carefully, I do notice that they stretch and elongate over time, some more than others. One has to account for this as well in knotting. I find I use a four-in-hand as my regular knot and then do a double-four-in-hand or Prince Albert for the ones that have gotten longer.

  2. Barry says:

    I prefer a Half Windsor, and find that if I get the wide blade to a bit above the length of my front shirt tail prior to tying the knot, that the long blade hangs at right about my belt buckle. Thicker ties require a bit more length, and thinner less. YMMV

  3. James de Saxton says:

    Alright gents, Confess:
    How many, having overlooked packing a tie clasp of some sort, have borrowed a paperclip from the hotel to secure the back blade to the shirt just above or below the keeper?

  4. Steve Ruis says:

    I received an ad for a new pair of tweed ties that I liked very much but since I am on the taller side, I emailed customer service to inquire as to the length. They specified a length that was too short, so I was disappointed and said so to the CS agent. They said, no problem, just order the ties with a request for a longer length and I did (four inches). The ties are lovely and the cost for the special order–regular price! If you know what length tie you need, do not hesitate to ask for what you want. worst they can say is “no.” And, if they say “yes” and you aren’t charged an arm and a leg, you know you are working with a good company.

  5. Dudley says:

    With the exception for a rather thick tweed tie I always use a Windsor as I think it the smartest. Tie length will depend on height of trouser waistband of course. Keep meaning to use a slim, gold pin but never quite get around to it.

  6. Chris says:

    Simple. On the back of every tie there is a seam usually around the midway point. Use this as the point at which you start tieing a knot and you will usually achieve the ideal length. Please never put a dimple in the knot. It looks so bad and is just plain wrong. A knot MUST be smooth. Dimples make a tie look badly tied. Always use the keeper. That’s what it is there for and not using it is scruffy. Tie pins anf clips ruin the matetial and look like bling so forget them too. Just not cricket old boy! Truly classic style is always slightly understated.

  7. Godson says:

    Keeping the front and back blade of any tie just the same length is what a gent. Should consider.
    To me it part of me.

  8. Forrest Howe says:

    I think for a man to let his tie go below his waist can be very gauche. It seems that individual is pointing to areas I’m not inclined to view. Especially if a bright color!

  9. Nicholas di Mambro says:

    Let’s face it, this article was inevitable.
    You only had to see the appearance of President Obama at Mrs Clinton’s acceptance as the Democratic candidate to see,frankly, that he could not relate to the average man–perfect hair,wonderful suit, beautifully dimpled tie etc.
    I’m sure he must be a subscriber here.
    Mr Trump’s appearance on the same night was the total antithesis. I’m sure he can afford the best dress advice there is and he was made up,in my opinion, to relate to a different group of voters.

  10. Garett von Ulfeld says:

    I’m with you, Sven … same length blades … no keeper/tie clip … end at waistband … it’s called style ! … I am 6’2”, with a long waist, and a penchant for vintage ties … I found a tailor that specialized in modifying ties here in New York … that was many years ago when you could literally find anything in New York City … not so easy these days … keep up the good work !

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] them to be a bit effeminate, but again each to his own. Belt loops look better with a belt, and the tie length does not encourage the viewer to look into the wearer’s face, and therefore it is too long. […]

  2. […] your neck, adjust the length, turn down your collar and button it. Make sure your back end has the right length. For me, it’s about a button up from my waistband, but it depends on what kind of pants you […]

  3. […] on the bias, you should use a stretch test. The stretch test has two hallmarks, one is to pull the length of the tie and it has to stretch that way. The other is you have to pull at 45 degree angle of the tie and it […]

  4. […] terms of the length of the tie, historically, ties in the 30s were very short, they would reach up to your waistline or belly […]

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