Dear Simon,

Ties and their lengths are causing me some problems.
I have bought several ties recently, all from Drake’s, but realise that they are slightly too long. Being 5’6’’ I know I am not the tallest of peopl but then, many I see on the streets are also my size. So why are ties made to a length that it seems is too long for the majority of people?



I then decided to have a shorter tie made at Drake’s to their ‘shorter’ length and, believe it or not, this seems too short. Needless to say this also costs extra.
I then came across the great videos posted by The Armoury about men tying their ties. I was amazed how everyone used a different way of doing their tie up, but what was not shown was the length against the trouser waist or indeed jacket. As some of them only did a ‘once around’ their ties surely must be too long too!


Then I came across the little book ‘85 ways to tie a tie‘ which whilst great, does not help with length. I also noticed that some of the knots, although creating a lovely knot, must surely be based on the fabric used. Too thick a fabric will lead to a giant knot. What I want to achieve is the look of a small, tight knot that then flares out to create the front blade. Furthermore, everyone advocates the four in hand, which I use, but should one also use other knots to create interest in the knot itself?


Some advice would be appreciated.


Regards, Bradley



Hi Bradley,


You’ve certainly been thinking about this in great depth. Good man.


The length of ties can be frustrating. Everyone is a different height and most ties only come in one. Unless you take the bespoke route and get the perfect length, you have two options.


One is to keep the front and back blade the same length when you tie it (as many like to do) and live with the fact that the whole thing will look a little long. The other is to keep the front blade the right length (tip somewhere on the waistband of the trousers) and have the back blade even longer. That can either hang outside the trousers or be tucked in. As I’m sure you’ve noticed from The Armoury and other sites, many men make either style look good. (You may even be tall for Italy…)


You can also adjust the knot of course, going once more round with the four in hand, or opting or a half or full Windsor, both of which use more silk. But if you are as fanatical about the knot being right as you suggest, you might find that just as frustrating.


These knots do indeed depend on the material of the tie, particularly the more complex ones. Most things work with a four in hand though. And I don’t see any need to vary the knot.


The way the tie sits is mostly to do with the collar, not the tie. It helps if the tie is tight, of a material with some texture and so friction, is tied to have at least one dimple, is set as high as possible in the collar and is tightened horizontally. But in the end the collar is the most important thing.


This is a whole post in itself, and can take a long time to get right with a shirtmaker, but many of us spend a lot of time trying. It’s one reason men tend to have only one shirtmaker, but several tailors.


Thanks


Simon

Photo: Luke Carby
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Ricini

Sam Hober bespoke neckties might be the answer. The available selection is not quite what’s at Drake’s, but a Drake’s necktie isn’t nearly as well made as one from Sam Hober. SH is also a good deal less expensive. May be worthwhile to have SH make you some neats and grenadines and other basics. E.G. Cappelli is another option.

Ricini

Cut individually (not forty at a time) by hand; sewn by hand; made to one’s specs; hand-rolled tips are a good deal neater, as is the sewing generally (what one can see of it, anyway). . .

To be clear, though, Drake’s neckties tie a wonderful knot, are made from wonderful designs in lovely colors, and are likely as good as RTW necktie.

Do you think Drake’s ties are as well made, Simon? If I remember correctly, you’ve seen the whole process at Drake’s.

Ricini

Simon,

From what I understand about their construction, I agree that there is not much to making neckties, and I also agree that Drake’s makes a lovely tie. Unfortunately, I’ve not held one of their bespoke pieces so I can say nothing about it, and indeed I was comparing Hober’s bespoke to Drake’s RTW (unfairly), which is why I am surprised my original comment raised a few eyebrows. I think it’s safe to say that a bespoke necktie receives more attention than a RTW one, even those made superbly by Drake’s, and such care usually leads to a better product. I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable to say that for neckties this kind of extra attention does or does not improve quality. Nonetheless, on the four untipped Drake’s neckties I own, three (all silks) are simply pressed flat to the blade and are a bit asymmetrical at the very tip, while my SH’s are rolled tightly and beautifully regardless of the material. Looser stitching aside, I have difficulty believing such details were chosen for aesthetic reasons.

Ricini

Nonetheless, from a less rigid point of view these things are likely negligible to most everyone. I’ve not really any complaint with my Drake’s neckties, and their designs are wonderful.

Anonymous

“85 ways to tie a tie” is a mathematical exposition of all the different possible ways of tying a tie – it has its origins in an article published in Nature magazine in 1999 (Nature 398 (6722): 31–32). I would not use it as a sartorial guide!

I am also 5’6 and must say that I have no problem using standard length ties. I generally use a Prince Albert/Old Bertie (as recommended by Hugo Jacomet: http://parisiangentleman.co.uk/2012/07/12/the-perfect-knot/). However it is much too simplistic to reduce tie length to height and knot type. There’s also neck size (more tie around neck means less hanging down), girth (a longer tie is needed to cover a prominent belly), and of course trouser cut (higher waisted trousers need shorter ties).

That said, the most elegant answer to your conundrum is also the simplest. Wear a waistcoat.

(PS: note to the editor – to say that “men tend to have only one shirtmaker but several tailors” is perhaps an exaggeration. While it describes my own position, regretfully in my experience, men tend to have neither one nor the other – and even men with tailors frequently forego the shirtmaker).

Mark

I have a sam hober tie and i love it, but it isn’t even in the same league as drakes (nevermind ‘better’).

My advice is not to worry about length too much, as ling as its not as short as a football managers.

Many fashionable men throughout history have spirted ties that seem too long to the uneducated.

Baron Verdigris

I’ve found Charvet ties to be amongst the shortest of those I own – perhaps it is worth trying one of them on for size. That said, the ties are relatively wide so (despite the silk not being too thick/heavy), the knots are probably medium-large sized rather than small, even with a four-in-hand. Also, I’m 5’8 and found Drake’s shorter length ties to be perfect. If they’re too short for you, can’t you just have a fairly short thin blade at the back?

Eugene Freedman

I am also 5’6.” I buy the RTW Drakes ties at 56″x3.25 through ASW Haberdasher and order Sam Hober ties at 55″x3.5″ which is my preferred width. Both lengths work well. My torso is longer and my neck and chest thicker than many of my height. It’s my legs that give up all of the height. So, YMMV with regard to these lengths applying to your reader.

Hober does a great job explaining how to measure a tie for proper length in your first order. Obviously, you can tweak the measurements after that, but ordering one at first is recommended. E-mailing David Hober about measuring can be useful as well if you use a particular knot.

With several Drakes ties and over a half-dozen Hobers I can say that they are both made beautifully. Hober being bespoke offers a lot more options for personalization. You can go tipped or untipped with hand rolled edges, 3-fold, 4-fold, 6-fold, or unlined 7-fold, keeper or not, and several other options. Standard construction for grenadines is 4-fold and there are no fewer than 4 types of grenadine weaves, all in many colors and designs. You can get a lot more bang for your buck with Hobers, however, getting the Drakes at a clearance price can make them cheaper still.

Since I began buying Drakes and Hobers about two years ago I stopped buying any other brands of ties. I’ve found Drakes has some unique fabrics (shantung etc.) that I can’t find elsewhere, whereas Hober offers all of the traditional grenadine, pin dot, striped, and foulard fabrics I desire made exactly the way I want.

Winot

Another point to bear in mind (which is rarely mentioned) is trouser rise. A high-cut trouser will make a tie look longer and vice versa. One reason why, with several tailors, I’m not sure I’ll bother going the route of the bespoke tie.

Tuur

Hi Simon,

I have regular sized ties (150 cm, 59 inch) and they are a little bit too long for me. I would like to try the shorter ties from Drake’s (142 cm or 56 inch) but I’m wondering if maybe these ties would be too short. I probably don’t need my ties to be 8 cm or 3 inch shorter but I guess there is no real middle road here.

I also wonder when a tie is ‘too short’?

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards

Arthur

Anonymous

To complement Simon’s comments on remedying a back blade that’s too long, the back blade can also be tucked between two shirt buttons. (but just be mindful if wearing a dark tie and white shirt)

swerdlin

Your leading photo looks like the beginning of a reconstruction of a murder! i like it.

Raj

simon whats the whole idea of seven fold ties? Ive read about it in passing years ago by flusser, but ignored it completely, it seems to have come back into vogue especially amongst clothing fora members. Does it actually offer any more value? Is there any point, when you can have an interlining in the tie which serves the purpose of adding bulk? Thanks, Raj

Dan

What’s the secret to getting the knot to stay high up on the collar in order to obscure the unsightly closing at the neck? In other words, I don’t want to see anything above the knot except my neck and the collar points. My ties always seem to sit too low (regardless of tightness) and you see the two bits of placket that fasten together by the neck button. Looks awful. Should I just push the length of tie that’s around the collar up a bit? I’m sure you never think of this anymore, but I’ve always found it a mystery.

Dan

Appreciated, and glad to know there’s a bit of nuance to it. Most of my for-ties collars are spread or cutaway, so I think there’s room, although I’ve lately become obsessed with length of collar points (I won’t touch anything less than 8cm now). It must’ve been my allowing the band of the tie to slip to the lower part of the collar. Thank you!

GRF

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those over 6’4? It’s a real struggle to find ties long enough!

Sam

I find it difficult to get a nice, tight knot without feeling the tie is tied too tight. Would you happen to have any tips on getting a crisp knot without putting too much strain on the neck?

Sam

Looking forward!

Miguel

Dear Simon,

I’ve been thinking a lot about ties! And the problem is that my father taught me a Four-In-Hand, and I’ve been using it for a lot of time.
But recently I started buying my one ties, from Drake’s, Shibumi and Cappelli. Suddenly I was with the problem of having a really small knot ( mainly Drake’s) for my style, and I tried the old Bertie, which I am a great fan. But seeing your opinion about the four in hand, also seeing gentleman’s like Bruce Boyer, created a lot of doubts. At the same time I saw Luciano Barbera ( that uses a old Bertie has his video shows), and he himself, is also very stylish….

As you can see I’m in a lot of doubts, may I ask your help?

Miguel

Mmmm… I perfectly understand what you mean. Thanks for the , it was very useful.
But for example your knot is a little bit fuller and wider than, once again, Mr. Boyer…
How do you do it?
Do you think that Mr. Luciano Barbera looks very fussy?

Miguel

Alright, I understand now. Simple, and not fussy! Great tips.
Thank your so much for your attention, and patience.
It was a pleasure to speak with you.

Many Thanks,
Miguel

Jipster

When doing the Double FIH I find my knot becomes too tubular and loses its triangular shape. Any way to prevent this while still getting the larger FIH knot?

Thanks.

Jipster

I’m really going for the look Pierce Brosnan had as James Bond. I don’t know if I can post pictures here but if you have ever seen The World is Not Enough or Die Another Day you’ll know what I mean. Is it possible he is wearing an Old Bertie? Thank you, cheers Simon!

Jipster

Is that what it looks like Brosnan is wearing to you? A four in hand? Thanks Simon!

Jipster

One more question (sorry to bother you): why do you feel that Brosnan was not so stylish? I think his clothes in the Bond movies were some of the best since Connery and his Gianni Campagna suits in Thomas Crown Affair where awesome (a little 90s but great nonetheless). Are you not a fan of the James Bond suit style generally or just not Brosnan’s take on it?

Jipster

By the way I have your book on the best of menswear and I love it! Thanks again