Cheap ties tend to look it—they have no heft and so, when you tie them, you wind up with a tiny, tight knot that looks bad. Plan on spending at least $45; if you want to spend less, consider going to a vintage clothing store that carries upscale merchandise. Along these lines, we feel compelled to say the following: avoid any form of novelty tie, including but not limited to any tie that features a company’s logo or a cartoon character. Matching tie-pocket square sets are also a bad idea.
Most men elect to wear ties that fall within a fairly narrow range in terms of style, and it’s foolish to try to buy a tie that’s too far outside of that range. For example, if a man typically wears a silk tie with a repeated pattern (think Vineyard Vines or Hermes), you should buy something in that category. If, on the other hand, he’s a rep tie guy, stick with the stripes. Don’t buy him a bow tie unless he already wears them and loves them.
Last year, thin ties were very fashionable, but that trend is already waning. Moreover, nothing says, “I’m the coolest junior manager at the company” quite like a thin tie. If you are shopping for a successful executive who exudes a certain gravitas, look for something that is between three and four inches wide. Just as you can go too thin, you can also go too light. As a rule, a tie should be darker than the shirt it’s paired with, and should never match it. This limits the versatility of pastel and yellow ties.
Silk is the traditional fabric of choice, but it’s generally formal, and you do have other options. A man who wears button-down collars and a blazer to work, for example, should consider a traditional knit tie. Cotton is another option: Though cotton ties can be more difficult to find in stores, they are especially nice to wear in warmer weather.
Many men wear their ties too long, creating a disconcerting effect below the belt. The tip of a man’s tie should just reach the top of his belt. If the person you’re buying a tie for has a habit of letting his tie dip too low, the greatest gift you can give him is the advice, gently delivered, that he take it up a notch.