In terms of colors and patterns, I tend to walk on the quieter side, going with more subdued choices in clothing. I’m not a sartorial screamer looking to get noticed from 100 yards away. My suits are mostly dark, either in solid colors or with very subtle stripes or patterns. My dress shirt collection is mostly white with a little powder blue and one gingham.

Though I am getting more color courageous with neck and pocket wear, I generally tend to keep things pretty sober there, too. Before branching out with bolder colors and patterns, it’s important to me to cover the essential bases, which means I get the navy or charcoal suit before expanding into bolder pinstripe suits, plaids or Prince of Wales. When it comes to ties, it means I get my black silk knit or midnight navy grenadine and other ties that go with almost anything before adding to the collection with other colors, stripes and patterns.

When one is on a budget, ties and other accessories like pocket squares and cufflinks are terrific inexpensive ways to make a humble wardrobe of three suits look like many more. One of my favorite destinations for getting smart, handsome, well-made and affordable ties is The Tie Bar.

With handmade ties for $15 each, The Tie Bar has enabled me to get several neckwear essentials stylishly and affordably. I got my black and navy silk knits and my black and navy “faux” grenadines, which The Tie Bar calls “Grenafaux.” (Genuine handmade grenadines are expensive to make and go beyond The Tie Bar’s $15-per-tie pricing model.) In addition to the basics, they have an extremely impressive collection of other ties in varying fabrics, textures, weaves, colors, stripes and patterns with both bold and more subtle detail. And one of my favorite aspects of their collection is the accommodation of different widths, which range from two inches (skinny) to three and a half inches (wider).

Three of my favorites:

For those special, unique ties, I love supporting my friends over at Fine and Dandy, who have some of the greatest ties I’ve ever seen, as well as a sick collection of truly unique pocket squares, cufflinks and other accessories that can really make a basic suit sing. When it comes to affordable core essentials or other great ties that catch my eye while I’m browsing, I’m grateful for The Tie Bar.

A word about tie width…

My rule about the right tie width is not about what’s hot, trendy or “in” right now. The right tie width is about proportion in relation to several factors. My rule of thumb goes like this: The width of your tie relates to the width of your shirt collar, which relates to the width of your jacket lapels, which relates to the width of your face. In other words, the right tie width for two modern men is different, depending on the different physical proportions of each man.

I’m 5’10” with a slim, 150 lb. build and a medium to narrow face. My preferred tie width is 3 inches, which is also the width of my shirt collars and my jacket lapels. The skinny trend is great for guys who are actually skinny with narrower faces. Jimmy Fallon, as much as I love him, wears skinny ties with skinny shirt collars that are often much narrower than his jacket lapels and out of proportion with his face. I still think he’s the best-dressed late night talk show host, but his tie/collar/lapel proportions can be slightly out of whack. Bigger men or those with larger faces make their faces look even larger with skinny ties (and skinny shirt collars and skinny lapels). Conversely, skinny guys with narrow builds look skinnier and narrower with ties, collars or lapels that are too wide. It’s all about proportion to one’s natural face and frame.


  1. Great points about width being determined by proportions. I’m a really skinny guy, and anything wider than 3″ looks like a bib on me, but my ties would be ridiculous on someone with any more heft that I carry. Fantastic article all around…I take it you’re a big fan of The Tie Bar’s Grenafaux line? I haven’t bit on those yet, although I’ve never been disappointed with anything else from them (currently hooked on their silk knits, although I wish they had some in cotton knit for summer)!

    • George

      Thanks, Adam! I think they do have cotton knits. If they don’t, my pals at Fine and Dandy sure do.

  2. Daniel Woren

    excellent article, George. A pleasure to read, as usual.

  3. Totally worth the read, just for that little nugget about proportions at the end. Thank you George!

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