Mastering Neck Ties: Unwrapping Southern Style

The tie symbolizes dignity, decorum, elegance, and respect - both given and received. As a man's most prominent fashion accessory, ties are also a highly accessible way to express himself, thereby provoking conversation. They are also a great way to show solidarity or support a cause.

It is perfect for the savvy businessman, the young buck with an emerging interest in formal attire, or the charming Southern gentleman looking to maintain the traditions of yore.

Without further ado, I present to you the necktie subjects at hand:

  • Neckties' uses
  • Tie-wearing occasions
  • Necktie wear tips
  • Necktie sizes
  • Necktie types
  • Necktie fabrics
  • Necktie patterns
  • Necktie knots
  • Tips on choosing the right necktie
  • Tie your necktie to your outfit

Necktie Uses

Class and Status Representation

Since ancient times, the necktie has symbolized formality, class, and power. A necktie represents a sense of culture, history, and status. Perhaps most importantly, it is a symbol of attention to detail – an ability to go above and beyond what is required by one’s job or society.

A BIT OF TRIVIA: The number 7 has a special significance regarding neckties! Do you know how?

Signify a Level of Decorum

When a man enters the room with a well-tailored suit and impeccable tie, doesn’t this command a sense of respect? He is signifying his seriousness and dedication to the task at hand.

Defining Your Personality

The necktie is a canvas for expressing your individuality. Be it wild and colorful or simple and neutral; each detail is a thread woven into the narrative of the wearer's personality.

Tie-Wearing Occasions

  • Formal events - Weddings, galas, charity balls, and state dinners, just to mention a few. Your unspoken respect for your hosts and fellow attendees shows how much you value the event.

  • Professional Settings - When business attire is stated in the invite, boardroom meetings, or a job interview, a tie helps convey your dedication, competence, and adherence to professional etiquette.

  • Semi-Formal and Casual Occasions - Jazz concert, theater premiere, or a Sunday champagne brunch provide a splendid opportunity to display your tie collection. A black-tie event is not needed to flaunt your Southern charm!
  • Themed Parties and Celebratory Events - Kentucky Derby, Halloween masquerade party, or an Easter parade all call for those whimsical ties with spirited panache. 

Necktie Wear Tips

  1. Tie Position - Tie the necktie securely at the collar without showing below except at the throat. The knot should fit snugly with no slack.
  1. Tie Width -
Tie Width and Suit Lapel Harmony
  • Wide lapel requires a wide tie
  • Narrow lapel complements a narrow tie
Suiting the Body Type
  • Larger individuals benefit from a wider tie for balance
  • Smaller individuals should opt for a slimmer tie for proportion
   3. Tie Length - After tying your tie, ensure it reaches your belt or waistband; taller men should choose 'long' ties.
  1. Tie Knots - Choose your tie knot wisely; a full Windsor or Four-In-Hand is classic and suitable for most formal events, though you can explore other knots too.
  1. Balance - Your tie should complement your suit, shirt, and physique for a polished look, like instruments in a symphony creating beautiful music. Properly worn ties enhance your appearance.

Necktie Sizes

Tie Lengths

  • Most standard neckties are typically around 57 to 58 inches long, which generally works for men between 5'9" and 6'1".
  • For gentlemen shorter than 5'9", shorter neck ties measuring around 54 to 56 inches should do the trick, so the tie doesn't hang past the belt.
  • Men taller than 6'1" should opt for longer ties, which usually measure 61 to 63 inches, giving ample room to tie the knot and keep everything proportionate elegantly.

Tie Widths

  • The classic tie width is 3.25-3.5 inches, suitable for most men.
  • Skinny ties (1.5-2.5 inches) offer a modern look but need narrow lapels.
  • Larger builds or formal settings may benefit from wider ties (3.75-4 inches) for authority.

Necktie Types

Classic Necktie

This is the essential choice, your staple item. It boasts a broad end, commonly called the "blade," and a slim end known as the "tail." Whether it is a corporate meeting or an elegant event, the timeless and stylish classic necktie is always a reliable option. For example:


This elegant style exudes a distinct Southern charm and is perfect for black-tie affairs and extravagant soirées. Picture yourself at a Mardi Gras ball in New Orleans, donning a luxurious velvet bow tie to capture that refined essence. For example:

Ascot/ Cravat

These items can infuse a sense of vintage glamour reminiscent of the F. Scott Fitzgerald era into your attire. Whether you're dressing in a morning suit or seeking a touch of sophistication at a wedding, an Ascot-style dress cravat, especially one crafted from soft silk adorned with an intricate design, undoubtedly exudes style.

Skinny Tie

This style is frequently linked to the Beatles or the Mod culture of the 1960s. It's a chic option for informal gatherings or when you prefer a tailored, slender-fitting suit. Enhance your edgy appearance as you wander through Savannah by donning a slim black tie.

Bolo Tie

The Western-style tie, which serves as the official neckwear of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, is usually worn for informal occasions. However, I've occasionally paired it with a blazer to introduce a touch of extra flair.

Novelty Tie

If you're a playful and adventurous gentleman, the novelty tie is your go-to choice. A silk novelty tie embellished with whimsical patterns could be the perfect addition to your attire for a delightful dinner gathering or a day at the racetrack. For example:

Necktie Fabrics

Silk Necktie

Silk reigns supreme in neckties. Its sleek and opulent appearance can’t help but put on a sophisticated and striking show - not to mention the polished-looking knot this material showcases.

Wool Necktie

A nice and hardy winter fabric boasts a rich and warm appeal around any fireside gathering. Peeking out from your winter coat is especially charming.:

Cotton Neckties

Spring and summer soirees are the perfect companions for the light and breezy cotton-made neckties. It disarms formality, making it perfect for a weekend picnic or that long-awaited beach wedding. For example:


A polyester tie can effectively replicate the look and feel of more expensive fabrics without straining your budget. However, while polyester ties can be a great choice for beginners, one should ultimately transition to more sophisticated options.

Necktie Patterns

Solid Ties

Solid navy blue ties are versatile and suitable for formal and casual settings. But just because they're solid, they don't have to be plain. A navy blue tie with a subtle twill weave or glossy satin finish is anything but dull.

Striped Ties

There's always room for a bit of international diplomacy in our ties. American stripes run from top right to bottom left, while British stripes run from top left to bottom right.

Dotted Ties

It is possible to make a dotted tie fun or formal, depending on its size and arrangement. Designed for professional settings, navy ties with evenly spaced white pin-dots are ideal. At a garden party, large, multicolored dots on a light-colored tie would be the perfect splash of fun.

Paisley Ties

Adding paisley to your wardrobe adds a flash of vibrant color and a bit of texture without being obtrusive. 

Plaid or Tartan Ties

When paired with wool suits, these are cozy and stylish. But remember, fellas, a plaid pattern requires a bit more care when matching with your outfit. For example:

Geometric Patterns

With geometric patterns featuring repeating squares, circles, or even more complex figures, your classic suit will take on a modern edge.

Floral Ties

Certainly, they are daring, but paired correctly, a tie featuring delicate floral illustrations can be elegant and sophisticated. For example:

Necktie Knots

Four-In-Hand Knot

There is no doubt that this knot has the most popularity, and it produces a small, slightly long knot that is ideal for wide neckties made from heavy fabrics. It exudes a carefree elegance that makes it suitable for most occasions.

Windsor Knot

Known as the Full Windsor and Double Windsor, this knot is thick, wide, and triangular, so it looks best with a spread collar or a cutaway collar.

In contrast, its relative, the "Half-Windsor Knot," is less bulky and narrower but is still polished and looks excellent with medium-width or thick ties.

Pratt/ Shelby Knot

Interestingly, this knot is tied inside out; thus, it fits well with any dress shirt and is ideal for wide ties made from fabrics ranging from light to medium in weight.

Eldredge Knot

Incorporating several small knots, this knot creates a large, exotic knot that's sure to turn heads at any high-end event.

Tips on Choosing the Right Necktie

1.   Consider the Formality of the Event

Different events require specific ties: a black tie needs a classic black bow tie, business meetings call for a silk necktie for professionalism, and casual gatherings allow for cotton or wool ties with patterns, letting the occasion guide your style choices.

2.   Tie Quality

Invest in a few good-quality ties to elevate your attire from the ordinary to the distinguished. Poorly constructed neckties can ruin a whole outfit, while well-crafted ties of high-quality fabric elevate your attire.

3.   Check the Material and Construction

Silk is the top choice for its texture, lightness, and shine, but other materials like wool have a cozy appeal for colder seasons. Ties come in lined or unlined styles; lined ties look fuller and knot well. Consider stitching and tipping for quality assessment.

Tie Your Necktie to Your Outfit

Color Coordination

Selecting a tie isn't only about matching colors; it's about achieving harmony. For instance, pair a light blue shirt with a navy suit with a burgundy or navy tie for a cohesive look – the tie should be darker than the shirt.

Choosing the Right Pattern

When wearing checkered or striped shirts, choose a tie with a larger pattern to avoid clashes, like thin stripes with bold tie stripes or dots with checks. For solid color shirts, the tie options are more flexible, but ensure the tie complements, not overpowers, the shirt.

Matching your Suit and Dress Shirt

The tie should harmonize with your suit. Classic suits (black or navy) go with most tie colors, while gray or brown suits look great with cooler tie shades like blue or green.

Consider Contrasts and Complementary Colors

A pop of color, such as a pink tie with a navy suit or a navy tie with a yellow or peach shirt, can make a stylish statement.

Final Thoughts Gentlemen

In this article, we've explored the world of neckties, covering their history, importance in formal settings, styles, materials, and knotting techniques. Neckties are more than accessories; they reflect your style and make a significant impact on your outfit.

Consider your size when choosing a tie: extra-long for tall individuals and off-the-rack for average height. Quality silk ties with proper construction enhance sophistication.

Matching ties with your outfit is crucial. For example, pair a solid navy silk tie with a light blue pinstripe shirt. Avoid clashing patterns.

Necktie selection, wearing, and matching play a significant role in men's formal fashion, especially for Southern gentlemen. Experiment with these guidelines to find your unique style.

Embrace neckties as statements of your style, grace, and Southern charm.

Next Steps

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