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.
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.
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:
- The front blade be as long as the back blade
- The front blade longer than the back blade
- 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:
- What knot you choose to wear.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.