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Accessories have a remarkable quality: it can both make and brake an outfit. It is the details that makes an outfit complete. And without a decent tie, your shirts are going to suffer. But what do you need to consider before purchasing your next one?
Many men come to us at John Henric with questions regarding ties. They want to know what sort of tie to use to a certain occasion. Truth be told, there are endless alternatives. What tie to wear depends on what situation you’re going to get yourself into. And knowing how to use the right accessories is an art. We intend to aid you in this matter. Without further ado, let’s get to it. When, and to what, can you wear dotted-, plain-, striped- and patterned ties? This is your handy guide to getting the details right.
The dotted tie is one of the most easy-to-use ties a man can possess. Because of its simplicity. The dotted tie can be used both to work and to festive happenings. Depending on the sizes of the dots. Smaller dots are always considered more formal than larger dots. We are big advocates of the dotted ties to almost any other item, regardless of shirt fabric or suit fabric. What we do recommend though, is not wearing a dotted tie to an item with even more dots. That is messy.
A dotted tie is best worn together with either striped patterns or no patterns. As shown in the picture below. Depending on what color the tie’s base color is, or what color the dots are, you can always alternate between various blazers. Dotted ties should have a cemented position in every man’s wardrobe. They’re not extravagant. On the contrary, dotted ties are simplistic. They are refined. Elegant.
Normally, the first tie a man buy is a plain tie. Because he wants to wear it to as many occasions as possible. And he’s right. Solid-coloured ties work well to everything. It is not the only option you have when purchasing a new tie, but it is a good choice - always.
If you’ve decided to purchase a plain tie, you have two options. Either you buy the tie in the same color as your blazer, but perhaps in a shifting nuance. Thus a tone-to-tone combination. Which is very neat. Or you go for a tie in a contrasting, but soft, color that goes well with your suit. Perhaps a plain green tie to a blue jacket. Just remember that solid-coloured garments are seen as more formal than multi-coloured garments. For that reason, it may be wise to keep this in mind when choosing a tie for the evening. A solid-coloured tie in a darker nuance, such as navy, have always been seen as very formal. A darker nuanced tie will be seen as heavier, than a paisley tie for instance. Because of this, plain ties work splendidly at weddings and student receptions. A solid-coloured tie is always a good idea to wear to white, or light blue, business shirts.
The first ties ever mass-produced were striped ties. Hailing from the university of Oxford’s collegiate. From there on the striped ties have been seen as ties associated with men’s clubs. Such as gentlemen’s clubs, rowing clubs, and army and navy divisions. Historically you weren’t supposed to wear a striped tie unless you had an affiliation.
Nowadays that’s a bit corny, and striped ties are a constant in our everyday wardrobe. You could find striped ties in many different varieties, but we prefer to wear our striped ties combined with either a striped shirt or a plain shirt. You could also wear it with checks, but personally we prefer block stripes with something more discrete. What we want to stress, is that a striped tie works really well with one more striped item. For instance a striped shirt. Or a pinstripe suit. But not with both a striped shirt and a pinstripe suit. That is a bit too much. A neat elegant outfit is a plain white oxford shirt, a v-neck sweater, a pair of flannel trousers and a striped tie. It is elegant, interesting and sophisticated.
At John Henric, we tend to stick to one rule of thumb above all else. To every outfit, you ought to have at least one plain item but also a patterned one. It is a simple rule of thumb, but it does do a lot for the visual appearance. We also tend to recommend not using the same, exact pattern to one outfit. For instance, the same pocket square and tie. Wearing the same pattern on your tie and pocket square is considered very formal. It is a suitable option for weddings but for everyday-use, we prefer something more inventive.
This doesn’t mean that colors and details in the tie shouldn’t be picked up in pocket squares or shirts. Which is a completely different thing, and is a smart way of color and pattern matching. When opting to go for a patterned tie, you have the chance for personal expression. Our most sincere tip is to go for what type of patterns you like, as long as the colors work well with both shirt and blazer. We have a thing for paisley ties. Because of their elegant connotations. Below is an example of how to apply this rule to perfection.