How To Wear A Tie

I can’t shake the feeling that a middle-school boy is shakily typing “how to wear a tie” in hopes of getting ready for prom.

Despite its simplistic silhouette, this formalwear staple comes with some complex intricacies. Involving technical folds and tucks, putting on a tie is more of a science than an art. Outfit coordination, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

It’s easy to associate the tie with blazers, button-ups, trousers, and oxford shoes but is that all there is to it?

The diverse nature of fashion isn’t known to strictly conform, and ties are no exception. Today, you can pair them with multiple different outfits. Intrinsic to Y2K and dark academia, the options are literally limitless.

Diagnosed with a styling slump? If so, no worries. It gets the best of us. If you require some OOTD inspo, I’ll show you how to wear a tie using 10 outfits. This style guide may or may not include core aesthetics such as:

  • Y2K 
  • Academic fashion 
  • Alternative 
  • Formalwear 

What Is A Tie?

Simply put, a tie is an accessory meant to be worn with a collared shirt. A staple of formalwear, it’s considered a must-have if you’re prepping for weddings, funerals, proms, graduation ceremonies, or other important events. 

They come in a wide variety of colors, cuts, and prints. It’s worth mentioning that there are three different ties to choose from: the classic straight tie, the bolo tie, and the iconic bowtie. 

When To Wear A Tie

As previously mentioned, ties are commonly worn formally. Usually paired with a blazer, a collared shirt, and a pair of trousers, they’re designed to add a pop of color to the final look. That said, today’s fashion is known to blend formalwear with casual clothing.

Ties can now be worn informally, as they’re considered a wardrobe staple in core aesthetics such as collegiate style and Y2K. 

The History Of The Tie 

For something intrinsically woven into our understanding of formalwear, it only makes sense that the origin story behind the tie is one of elegance and luxury.

In 17th-century France, locals hired Croatian merchants to manufacture neckerchiefs, which were considered a key part of menswear at the time. 

King Louis XIV soon caught wind of this subtle trend and furthered its cause by coining the garment “la cravate.” Since then, this extravagant accessory has been considered an essential part of daily dress.

The industrial revolution was partially responsible for the mass manufacturing of the iconic tie, as it was quickly re-invented to meet the demands of the workforce.

Stripped of its decorative and ruffled element, the cravat became the ascot, and the ascot soon became the modern necktie that we’ve all come to know and love.

How To Wear A Tie

To keep things simple, I won’t provide any in-depth details on how to put on a tie. There are hundreds of helpful video tutorials online that you can use.

In this article, I’ll show you how to wear a tie using 10 outfit ideas. From semi-formal to classic streetwear, you can relax knowing that there’s an OOTD out there for you. 

10 Outfit Ideas With A Tie

Outfits that serve two purposes will always be considered top-tier in fashion. For this ensemble, it’s giving “office hours til’ 5 and bar-hopping afterward” vibes.

With semi-casual aesthetics, this OOTD features a black leather jacket, a white button-up, a fitted tie, jeans, and a set of Converses to help keep things low-key.

It’s a bizarre mix of corporate chic and streetwear. Something that I’m sure would have been considered cheugy in the past. Complimented with a baseball cap, this “how to wear a tie” contender definitely deserves an Instagram photo-op.

It’s 2022, and the schoolboy aesthetic is in full swing. Those who had to wear uniforms in elementary or high school are probably fuming, given that they were considered ugly in their yesteryears.

Nevertheless, I guess button-ups, trousers, and ties are back in fashion again. 

If you vibe with this trend, it’s important to balance out the stiff nature of mandated dress with streetwear classics, such as varsity jackets. I also recommend topping the look off with a pair of black Doc Martens and a tote bag for added finesse. 

Considered another prime example of the schoolboy aesthetic, sweater vests and ties are practically the bread and butter of collegiate core.

They typically pair well with a collared button-up and a pair of matching trousers, which is recommended for those who want to give off a level of prestige and sophistication.

Of course, you can always swap out the pants for a regular set of jeans for a more casual look. Complimented by Doc Martens, this outfit is ready for class, expensive cafes, and lots of Instagram photo-ops.

Is it just me, or do you get 70s vibes from this Louis Vuitton ensemble? It’s probably due to its color, as the hippie age was known to favor beiges and browns.

This unique outfit features a corduroy-like jacket, a pair of caramel-toned pants, a striped button-down, and a matching neck tie.

Complete with a classic LV bag, this sophisticated look offers a vintage way how to wear a tie in traditional corporate fashion. If it’s too “office-pro” for your liking, I recommend dressing this contender down with a set of white Converses.

Achieving the “trust fund baby” look is quite an easy vibe to achieve, and a different way how to wear a tie. All you really need is a school uniform and a mix of streetwear classics.

Take, for instance, this ensemble, which features a blue polo shirt, a white collared tee, a red tie, and a navy blue matching set.

The blazer and the trousers act as a foundational outfit, as it allows the colorful underlayers to shine through. The bright yellow beanie works wonders in accentuating the entire fit. For those in need of additional accessories, you can never go wrong with a stylish tote bag. 

Oversized silhouettes are all the rage this year. Case in point, I thought it best to include at least one example in my “how to wear a tie” style guide. 

This chic OOTD is composed of an extra-large white button-up, a black necktie, a leather jacket, and a pink beret for a pop of color. Slightly emblematic of Parisian streetwear, it’s one of the easiest OOTDs to coordinate.

For shoes, I highly recommend wearing a pair of combat boots for some added edginess.

Just because you graduated high school doesn’t mean you have to leave your uniform days behind.

If you’ve been lucky enough to attend an institution that still allows skirts, I highly recommend keeping them for future use, since they’re considered a rare commodity in thrift stores. 

For the rest of the outfit, a matching blazer, a white button-up, and a suede tie can help elevate the entire OOTD. Accentuated with knee socks, loafers, and a brown baseball cap, it definitely screams “I got dress-coded at school”.

I have mixed feelings about oversized pantsuits. It’s a fine line to walk, given the risk of looking too bulky and angular. If you’re up for a challenge, this is definitely an interesting way how to wear a tie.

Comprised of a cream blazer, pink trousers, a striped necktie, and a pair of dad-esque sneakers, this OOTD manages to look chic apart from its overexaggerated shape.

It’s partially thanks to the cheesy yet bright tones of the ensemble which work to balance out the oversized silhouette. 

This monochrome outfit acts as the perfect base for statement pieces to shine through.

Obviously, the main star of the show is the bright yellow tie, which to some, is a difficult accessory to style given its bold design. If you prefer something simple and tone-downed, you can never go wrong with an all-black ensemble for how to wear a tie.

This OOTD features a crop top, a matching jacket, a low-waisted skirt, and a set of platform heels for some added height. Paired with white socks for a bit of contrast, this Instagrammable outfit is considered a blend between Y2K and schoolgirl chic.

I’ll be totally honest with you. I’m not 100% on board with Y2K fashion. That said, I can’t deny that this outfit totally works for how to wear a tie.

Composed of a cropped button-up, a black necktie, a checkered cardigan, and a black vest for some added dimension, this bizarre, yet stylish look dares to challenge the conventional through its unique take on layering.

The low-waisted jeans are a nice touch, as they help to keep the OOTD casual. Simple in color, this ensemble is exclusively catered to those bored of traditional fashion.

What Type Of Tie Outfits Can You get?

Of the 10 outfits I’ve featured, you’ve probably gotten a sense of what core aesthetics pair well with a tie. It’s no longer exclusive to formalwear, as this iconic accessory crossed that casual clothing border eons ago.

If you’re still struggling to form a cohesive fit, I’ll share some trendy OOTDs next in my “how to wear a tie” style guide: 

  • Boarding School Chic: This core aesthetic is all about tennis skirts, trousers, sweater vests, and collared tees. Naturally, a tie fits perfectly within this trend.
  • Y2K: If you vibe with low-waisted bottoms and crop tops, then you’ll be happy to know that this core aesthetic loves to incorporate ties whenever it can. 
  • Traditional Formalwear: Meant for office settings, networking parties, and fancy parties, a tie is usually perceived as the cherry on top of pantsuits and tuxedos. 
  • Experimental Streetwear: If you’re not keen on conforming to traditional fashion, streetwear acts as a safe space to experiment with different looks. 
  • Grunge: Despite its rebellious attitude, alternative fashion has a weird relationship with corporate clothing. Case in point: Avril Lavigne’s iconic look in her music video for “Sk8ter Boi”.

How To Choose The Best Tie Outfit

Accessories are usually viewed as desserts rather than the main course. It’s great to have, but not necessary in completing the final meal. That said, this entire article revolves around the tie. With that in mind, I’m assuming that everyone is basing their outfits surrounding this particular garment.

If you’re in dire need of a tie, I’ll share some shopping tips for trendsetters to consider. Responsible shoppers typically value material quality, design, practicality, and price when buying new clothes. Finding the perfect tie requires a keen eye for premium fabrics.

Textiles such as silk, cotton, polyester, and twill are commonly used by reputable brands, as they’re known to be quite durable and luxurious. Material quality also extends to the cut of the tie itself. It should feature clean hems, symmetrical lines, and an additional lining for added support. 

Ties come in a wide variety of prints, colors, and silhouettes. I highly recommend settling on a design that aligns with your current aesthetic, whether that be maximalism or minimalism. 

If you have yet to find your personal style, it’s always a good idea to stick with neutral tones like black, white, or brown. Easy to accessorize, you can graduate to other patterns and hues once you’re comfortable.

In terms of practicality, ties are considered quite versatile. They go with several outfits, as exemplified through my top 10 list. That said, design and functionality are often at odds with each other. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck with a tie that’s hard to style. 

Price-wise, a high-quality tie can retail anywhere from $20 to $200. It really depends on the brand and the design you choose. If you’re keen on investing in a luxury piece, it’s important to consider the whens and whys to help justify its cost.

How To Style A Tie

From the get-go, ties have been the accessory. With that in mind, it seems ironic to pair this particular garment with other accouterments. But fashion is rarely a one-item practice, as we usually wear additional jewelry, layers, and other key items to create a look. 

If your OOTD is missing a little somethin’ somethin’, here are some accessories that are sure to elevate your outfit from ‘meh’ to mesmerizing:

  • A white collared shirt: Considered the other half, white button-ups and ties will always go well together.
  • A tie pin: Not a fan of jewelry? If so, you can add a dainty tie pin to help add some glitz to your final look.
  • Loafers: Another staple of corporate aesthetic, it’s no wonder that this particular shoe blends well with tie-based outfits.
  • Knitwear: If you hate the stiff feeling of button-ups, you can always substitute them with a cozy sweater vest or a pullover.
  • Satchels: For those keen on achieving that college professor look, try swapping your regular tote bag for a leather satchel instead.

Fashion Tips To Avoid With A Tie 

No matter how iconic an accessory is, it’s bound to involve a controversial past.

Ties are no exception, as they reached the peak of cheugy-ness in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Remember those ugly corporate prints that your dad used to wear? Let’s hope that they never make an appearance ever again.

To help mitigate post-outfit regret, I’ll share some fashion tips to avoid with a tie:

  • The super short tie: Popular during the late 90s, this bizarre trend was thankfully put to rest when the 2000s hit.
  • The Picasso print: 90s geometrics, Cubism, and other outdated patterns are best exemplified through painted art, not ties. 
  • The oversized tie: If it manages to cover your entire chest, it’s probably best to choose a skinnier alternative.
  • The amateur knot: I highly recommend looking up tutorials on how to properly tie a tie. You can’t fake it for this particular accessory.
  • Stacked necklaces: Ties are often bold in aesthetic. With that in mind, I don’t recommend wearing a set of chains.

How To Take Care Of A Tie 

Given that most ties are constructed out of high-quality fabrics, there’s a good chance that it’ll require some in-depth TLC.

Oftentimes, this particular garment calls for dry cleaning or manual hand-washing. A gentle solution of lukewarm water and mild detergent will usually do the trick in eliminating stains. You should never toss your tie in the dryer, as this may encourage ripping and shrinking. 

Ties are quite receptive to wrinkles, which is why it’s always a good idea to iron them flat. In terms of storage, most experts advise hanging or rolling to prevent any unwanted creases. 

Best Places To Buy A Tie 

Care for some store recommendations? If so, I’ll end my “how to wear a tie” style guide with some notable suggestions:

  • Saks Fifth Avenue 
  • Nordstrom 
  • Simons 
  • Moores Clothing 

Final Thoughts

For some, tying their first-ever tie is a rite of passage. It can mark adulthood, especially if you’re getting ready for a wedding or a graduation ceremony.

Despite its affiliation with formalwear, we learned that the tie is not exclusively related to blazers and pantsuits. Nowadays, it’s adopted by several core aesthetics.

From Y2K to collegiate-core, you can finally get some use out of your prom tie outside of fancy events. Of the 10 outfits I’ve featured, I’m fairly sure that you know how to wear a tie stylishly and confidently.

Check out some of our other style guides:

How To Wear A Suit

How To Wear High-Top Converse Shoes

How To Wear A Shacket

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