I’ve been waiting a long time to talk about what I believe is the most abused and incorrectly worn pieces of menswear. Guys have worn tie bars in an attempt to look classy ever since Mad Men revived the modern suit look seven years ago. Many times, guys fail because they simply don’t know how a tie bar is supposed to work. That’s where my article comes to the rescue.
The Function of the Tie Bar
Menswear is established in functionality and the tie bar (or tie clip) is no exception. The tie bar is used simply to hold a gent’s tie down, to prevent it from going askew. It accomplishes this feat by having the top end of the clip over the tie and the bottom end on your shirt placket. This instrument basically links your tie to your shirt, ensuring that it’s not going to flap around. Your jacket may not help you if you’re wearing one; a strong wind can blow it straight out of your gorge (the V-shaped open area of the jacket). Menswear is all about looking neat and an askew tie kills that idea. Here’s an example of showing the tie bar in action:
Just think of it this way: your tie bar will hold your tie in place no matter what you do.
How it is Used Incorrectly
The most glaring example of using the tie bar incorrectly is when guys put their tie bar on the tie only, with no attachment to the shirt. So now your tie will still be flying around, only it’s got a small piece of metal fixed to it. This is a result of guys buying things for the aesthetic, not for the purpose.
Additionally, I see guys wearing their tie bars pretty close to the top of their tie. Clipping your tie bar high is just as ineffective as if it wasn’t fastened to the shirt at all. Having it high up just allows more of the tie to be able to flap around, as if it was on a pivot.
Too high, Ethan.
This look of “having their tie bar high” is also combined with men in vests. Since the vest covers most of your body (including the tie), it prevents the tie from moving around. Therefore, wearing your tie bar along with a vest is redundant, as you’re wearing two things that serve the same purpose.
How to Wear it Correctly
To wear your tie bar effectively, you should wear it above the middle of your shirt. Just for safety,make sure it’s below the third button (from the top) of your shirt. This placement ensures that a majority of the tie will be kept in place. The remaining part of the tie will be protected if you wear a jacket or blazer. Even sans blazer, your tie won’t have as much area to pivot around, if it is at a lower location. Ian has the perfect location for his tie bar:
The width of your tie bar is just as important as its placement. Your tie bar should have a shorter width than your tie. Otherwise, you’ll have an awkward piece of metal that looks like it pierced your tie all the way through. If you prefer having your ties skinny, I would suggest having a very minimalistic tie bar so that you don’t run into the problem mentioned in the above statement. Check out the following picture; Raj’s tie bar doesn’t meet or exceed the width of his knit tie!
Wear Your Tie Bar with Style
Once you’ve got the basic rules down, it’s time to make your tie bar your own. There are a variety of different tie bars out there! For example there are tie bars that are more like paper clips that simply slip onto your shirt and tie, and ones that are like clamps, which actually have a small “alligator mouth” mechanism to attach your tie to your shirt. No matter the method, there are plenty of styles that can suit you. Many guys find whimsical ones, such as pistol ones, to even ones that look like the glasses I wear! Here’s some examples: For dramatic menswear enthusiasts.
However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Wearing your tie bar with some angle and attitude has been around for a long time. Menswear Instagrammer @jaygats always wears his slanted. Even though he’s using something practical, his slanted tie bar exudes an attitude of nonchalance, the definition of sprezzatura. He’s one of my menswear inspirations.
*above image not owned by Street x Sprezza
Another way to do it is Raj’s way, where he uses his tie bar to make his tie puff out. It’s like using a collar bar without the collar bar!
Just remember that a tie bar is functional above anything else: it exists to keep your tie to your shirt and ensures that it doesn’t flap around. Now ditching the tie bar is a look on its own and it definitely increases the amount of casualness your outfit radiates, but I always believe that if you’re going to do something, you better freakin’ do it right. So remember to:
1. Fasten your tie clip to your shirts placket
2. Wear it near or slightly above the middle of your shirt
3. Don’t wear it with a vest
4. Wear yours with personal style
I hope you guys all learned something about using this fantastically simple and essential piece of menswear!
Always a pleasure,
Street x Sprezza