Men’s Tips: Tailoring Ties

Tailored ties

A few ties from The Tie Bar with custom alterations by our local tailor.

“A skinnier tie just feels of-the-moment right now. It’s not too mainstream and not too traditional. And there’s less material, so there’s less potential for a color or pattern to feel garish or offensive. Plus, the way people dress is cyclical. What’s rebellion and what’s conformity flip back and forth. For a long time, rebellion was a t-shirt and a trucker hat. Then, suddenly that mess became conformity, and dressing up a little bit became a way to differentiate yourself… So right now, a well-tailored suit and skinny tie is cool. Right now, that’s the mark of an individual”. – Scott Steinberg, Designer, Band of Outsiders

This quote could easily stand as a mission statement for this site, on a couple of levels. First, thin ties are definitely In. I think they’re more versatile, more tasteful and more comfortable to wear in general. If you want to wear a tie to work, a thinner tie is almost always the best bet in Silicon Valley or in Redmond/Seattle. Second: wearing a tie AT ALL is a huge expression of rebellion in all these places. The situation could not be more flipped to the wrong side of the coin. What can be cooler than doing that? You can even wear a skinny tie with a pair of jeans! (I do this all the time.) In some ways, particularly this one, tech is more provincial than many would believe. Why do tech people insist on looking like rubes?

Going Outside the Box

To the subject at hand. To my knowledge, no one else I have seen online or in print mentions the possibility of tailoring ties. You buy a tie, find it is too long for you, or too loud for you, or too *something* for you, and it goes into the closet never to be seen again. Sometimes a guy will spend good money on something like this, only to find himself never wearing it. If you know a tailor or a reliable cleaning place that can handle it, I am about to give you a really good tip.

Being a not-so-imposing 5’7″, I’ve found that standard wide ties, no matter what the pattern, don’t typically do it for me. Having a collection of 120 ties in my closet, and having access to a skilled and reasonable tailor, I decided to take some of my bolder power ties to her for a judicious tweaking. Now, I have dozens of ties that literally no one else has. In the pic above, these are all formerly 3.5″ wide, silk herringbone for the most part. They’re whittled down to a much more fashionable 2.75″ and wearable for all occasions except the beach. I had my tailor chop down most of my more hyper paisleys to a more flexible 3″ and the adjustment is subtle but very useful. I even had a $130 Franco Uomo tie altered this way and the difference is pretty dramatic.

Consider giving a beautiful louder tie a shave

Some patterns don’t lend themselves to such changes but if you have a patterned tie you really love and you think it’s too loud for work or for other business occasions, consider having someone shave it down for you. Useful hint: have a skinnier tie you can lend them as a template. If you’re of a shorter persuasion as I am and have a great tie that is just too long, have the tailor knock three to four inches off. It should be quite reasonable to do this, and then your favorite tie will actually fit you instead of dangling down past your beltline. You know, like Donald Trump with his stupid red ties.

About the author

Richard Grace is a technical writer and long-time denizen of Silicon Valley. He thinks men's style in Silicon Valley could use a bit of improvement. For the latest Groovy Man Stuff, friend him on facebook, "Like" his Groovy Man Stuff page, follow him on Twitter, or plus him on Google+. And since this is Silicon Valley, Richard also has a Linked In profile.