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When job searching, networking and interviewing, most males are expected to be wearing a tie as part of standard-attire, and females sometimes opt to wear one, too, but strictly out of their own fashion preference. For all tie-wearers, here are some tips on how you can find the right tie for you, and wear it like a pro:
FIRST – Length
The proper length for a tie is to have the tip rest around your belt buckle (give yourself an inch +/- margin on that). Any longer makes you look like a little kid, any shorter makes you look like a clown. There is a trick to reaching this length on the FIRST try every time: When your tie is resting around your neck, untied, adjust the skinny end to rest somewhere between the 3rd and 4th button down (4th and 5th button if you count the very top neck button). Begin to tie. Make adjustments as necessary, each time mentally noting where the skinny end rests before you tie. Generally speaking, ties will all be the same length so once you find the “sweet spot” keep it in mind every time you put one on.
SECOND – Thickness
The proper thickness for a tie depends on your physique, your suit and the occasion. 20 years ago the fashion was THICK ties with busy patterns.
Today, ties are much more slender and simple. Thickness should not exceed 3.5 inches. Ties handed down to you are likely to be thicker than this given the fashion trends. Ties you find in most stores these days will be around 3.5 inches thick for standard ties. There are also “narrow” and “skinny” ties. The difference between “narrow” and “skinny” is that a narrow tie will get ticker from one end to the other, but only slightly. A “skinny” tie is one thickness through its entire length (and not very thick at all).
For the job-seeking undergrad, I suggest NOT wearing a “skinny” tie to a professional event or interview. They are much more party than business. The same goes for bow ties, although I’d say there is an exception for literary, teaching/research and art based professions. Even still I’d recommend sticking with a necktie until hired. Also, bow ties are hit-or-miss fashion depending your physique.
THIRD – Style and Color
The style of your tie will depend on the industry in which you are job seeking. Today’s fashion, though, has ties with generally simple patterns: polka dots, stripes, plaid and wool ties are in. More complex patterns, like the one Niles is wearing the above photo, are dead. Solid ties are timeless, but black ties are only for black-tie events and white ties are for when you get married (if your partner is also wearing white) or for when you get an invite to ride on P. Diddy’s yacht. Everything else in the color spectrum, though, is fair game.
FOURTH – The Knot
The final part about tie fashion is the knot itself. There are different ways to tie a tie, but two generally more popular methods persist: There is the wide, symmetrical knot of a windsor or double-windsor, and the smaller, more typical standard or “simple” method. I suggest you try out a few different ways and see what works best for you.
Keep in mind you generally want to keep the knot, tie thickness, and thickness of your lapels all within reason. A wider collar, like an English Spread needs a wider knot (like a windsor) and the opposite with narrower collars, like a forward point. This is both fashionably correct AND comfortable.
FIFTH – Tie or No Tie?
The answer for a job seeker is ALWAYS wear a tie. Many of our recruiters this year have shown up tie-less, and there is a trend in the American workplace to not wear ties. In fact, you’ll find me here at Bowdoin sometimes with, and sometimes without. I play it by ear and make a game time decision on it each morning. However, job-seekers should ALWAYS WEAR A TIE. Once you get the position you can start ditching it, or upping the fashion. Take your queues from your work environment.
AND FINALLY – Fashion Advice
For more advice on workplace fashion that goes BEYOND the tie, make sure you check out our annual Do’s and Don’ts Fashion Show photo recap. The show featured students and staff modeling what to wear, and what NOT to wear as a job seeker.