5 Different Types of Tie to Consider Wearing

The necktie, a simple length of cloth knotted around the neck, has been a style mainstay for longer than you might imagine.

Its ancient forebears include Chinese soldiers of the third century B.C., whose terra-cotta effigies depict them wearing decorative neckwear. Roman legionnaires who wore similar garments as protection from the elements. But the closest precursor to the modern necktie were the scarves worn by Croatian mercenaries employed by France in the 17th century.

Parisians would translate these adornments into a new accessory that became the earliest form of the tie we now know.

With such a long history, there are many different types of tie that don’t make it into regular rotation. If your selection of standard ties is feeling stale, try shaking up your business casual with one of these underutilized styles.

  1. The Skinny Tie

The necktie most of us are familiar with is the four in hand style. This is your basic, no-frills choice that you see in offices and events all across the world.

Since the four in hand is such a staple of office wear, you might be hesitant to deviate too far from it in professional settings. If that the position in which you find yourself, a smart choice might be the skinny tie.

Technically the skinny tie is just a four in hand tie, so no one could chastise you for going off of dress code. Its defining characteristic is just that it’s cut a fraction as wide as a standard tie.

This look was popularized in the 1950s and 60s, primarily by musicians like The Beatles and their contemporaries. Because of that association, they have more flair than their more conventional counterparts and appear to be a favorite of celebrities like Robert Pattinson, Liam Hemsworth, and Ryan Reynolds.

They also pair excellently with a good pair of jeans, making them ideal for settings casual settings as well.

  1. The Bowtie

The bowtie can be a challenge to pull off effectively. But for those who manage, it can make for a striking look.

Bowties are much more popular in the southern United States, and therefore it’s pretty common to see them paired with a seersucker suit. And for truly formal white and black tie events, they are essential.

But that doesn’t mean that they need only be reserved for formal events. More than a few men have found that they can be paired up with a casual blazer for a look that’s more refined than just jeans and a shirt, but which still has a bit of whimsy to it.

  1. The Knitted Tie

The knitted tie is in many ways the counterpart to the skinny tie. Like its thinner cousin, the knitted tie is another holdover from the 1960s.

At one time it was a standard of men’s fashion. Sean Connery wore during his stint as James Bond, and James Dean and Paul Newman were also known to be fans. Though as time went on it fell out of fashion and for much of its existence it was viewed as somewhat old-fashioned.

But as tends to be the case, what was once outmoded has since been rediscovered by subsequent generations, and knit ties have become a new staple.

An elegant alternative to the standard four in hand, they bring a certain je ne sais quoi to whatever outfit they accompany, whether it be formal or informal. And not just that, but their ability to pair equally well with a light summer suit or a heavy wool blazer makes them the tie for all seasons.

  1. The Bolo Tie

If the bowtie seemed difficult to pull off, then here’s a truly bold choice. Invented in the 1940s and rising to significant popularity in the 1970s, the bolo tie probably the most striking option on this list.

Though they were once considered garish relics of country-western’s past, they’ve been making a recent comeback thanks to their rather fashion-forward use by Lil Nas X, with high-profile celebs like Nick Jonas following his example. Though because they’re so fashion-forward, you probably shouldn’t bet on them being considered workplace-appropriate unless you happen to live in the southwest.

On the subject of antiquated southern ties, another possible option would be western bowtie. This is really the cutting edge of bold choices, as most people intrinsically associate it with Colonel Sanders. That said, it is still considered acceptable formal wear in the southwest, so if you really want to try something different, the western bowtie might be for you.

  1. The Cravat

The cravat is the grandfather of all neckties. This is the tie that the French originally came up with after seeing those Croatian soldiers march through Paris almost 400 years ago. In fact, the French word “cravate” is derived from Croates, which means Croatian in French.

As the original necktie, the cravat is of course the most old-timey choice and takes a lot of thought and confidence to pull off well. But you do have some flexibility, as they can be worn in a variety of lengths, cuts, and knots.  And then there’s the ascot, a somewhat more high-end version of the cravat usually held in place with a pin instead of a knot.

If you do see a cravat in use, it will most likely be at a formal affair. But knotted loosely and worn with a casual shirt or jacket, the cravat can make a unique and elegant statement piece.

There Are Different Types of Tie for All Occasions

They say the more things change the more they stay the same. And while the workplace and the social sphere both have undergone drastic changes in recent decades, it seems like the necktie is one standard that won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. After all, it’s endured for centuries already.

But that doesn’t mean that the old standards don’t get stale, or that some occasions might call for a more colorful choice. This is why a good style rule is to keep at least a couple of different types of tie in your wardrobe.

And for more of syle guides and tips, always remember to keep up with the latest from Nora Gouma.


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