While harp suiting is fine, as is a strong shirt and shoe game, your tie is the accessory that truly sets off a suit, the bow on top.
The sheer variety of possible suit, shirt, and tie combinations makes it nearly impossible to establish a simple and universally applicable set of rules. However, there are several guidelines you should follow if you want to tie up each outfit as well as possible.
Make certain your colours are accurate
Let’s begin simply. Colour. When choosing a tie, a general rule to follow – and keep in mind that this is very general – is that your tie should be darker than your shirt. It should be noticeable against your chest and call attention to the fact that you are wearing a tie. What purpose does it serve to wear one if it literally fades into the background?
Matching your suit to your shoes is a little trickier. Again, you should aim for a tie that is approximately the same tone as your jacket and trousers. However, this strategy does not work with lighter suits, as they should be darker. Therefore, judge each case independently – but keep the colours consistent.
When wearing a blue suit, opt for a navy tie rather than a green one. Choose a black tie if you’re wearing a grey suit. Your colours should complement one another, not clash, so even if you pick the wrong tone, as long as the hue is correct, you won’t go far wrong.
Avoid introducing an excessive number of patterns
Colours are one thing; patterns are something else entirely. By incorporating multiple colours into a single tie – whether in the form of spots, stripes, checks, or prints – you significantly complicate the matching process.This is not to say it is not worthwhile.
Adhere to the two-rule. Your shirt and suit, as well as your shirt and tie, maybe patterned. However, never wear a patterned shirt, suit, or tie in unison, as your ensemble will appear far too busy. To remain safe and sophisticated, choose a tight, subtle pattern for your tie, and ensure that whatever pattern you choose does not clash with the pattern on your suit or shirt. Are you going for stripes? Consistently use stripes across the board.
Maintain the proper width
Matching the size of your tie to the style of your suit is another critical step. Thankfully, after all the exceptions and loopholes in the colour department, this is fairly straightforward.
If your suit is slim-fitting and precisely tailored, choose a slimmer tie. If it is bombastic, wide-lapelled, or double-breasted, opt for a wider silhouette to avoid being lost in the crowd. The “larger” the suit, the “larger” the tie. Simple.
Complement your materials
Your suit will dictate the material used to make your tie. If you’re entering a large business meeting wearing a charcoal pinstripe suit, you should reach for a silk tie. If the wedding is in the summer and you’re dressed in linen, opt for a cotton or knitted tie.
Simply put, the more relaxed your suit, the more relaxed your tie should be. At the top of the formality scale are gleaming silk offerings, while dull linen or wool offerings are at the bottom. Keep your sharpest business suit away from a squared-off knitted tie, and vice versa, keep your striped silk accessories away from your heavy wool winter suits.