Where to Wear a Tie

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Where to Wear a Tie

While there are certainly fewer places to wear a tie in Britain than there once were, and the number seems to be shrinking all the time, that does not mean there are none. In fact, it could be argued that the fewer the places there are to wear a tie, the more important it is to wear a tie correctly when it is appropriate. Knowing where one should and should not wear a tie is primarily a matter of considering the audience and the situation. It also depends on a person’s role in the situation, as there are some cases where one person may be required to wear a tie, where perhaps some other person may not. Knowing where, and where not to wear a tie, can make anyone that much more comfortable in any social or business situation.

History of the Tie

Like so many aspects of fashion, the tie as it is currently worn can be traced to France; in this case to Croatian mercenaries at the court of Louis XIV. This influence can still be seen in the modern French term for a tie, "le cravate". Despite the French origin of the tie, the idea of neckwear as a statement of fashion originated in Britain, with Beau Brummel in the late eighteenth century. The regular use of the term "tie", came later, and has continued from the 1840’s to the present day. The modern tie started becoming popular in the eighteen-sixties, and despite fluctuations in length and width, has remained a vital part of the male wardrobe ever since.

Different Kinds of Tie

There are several different kinds of tie, ranging from the ascot to the bolo. The most common varieties are the long tie, sometimes called a necktie, and the bow tie. Both of these, widely available, are what most people think of when they hear the term tie. The ascot, which takes its name from the Royal Ascot horse race, is a loose tie that is only worn in certain circles and in very formal circumstances. The bolo, which basically resembles a silver-tipped black cord threaded through a brooch at the neck, is primarily worn with country and western garb and in the American Southwest. While some do wear the bolo tie in the UK, it is not something that would commonly be worn as a substitute for either a necktie or a bow tie.

Difference Between Britain and America

While for the most part, ties are very similar in the two countries, there is one clear difference between British and American ties, and that is the stripe. In Britain, the stripes on a tie normally run down from the left shoulder to the right hip; in America, they go the other way. This was a deliberate decision on the part of the Brooks Brothers, who introduced the striped tie to America, in order to ensure that their ties would not be mistaken for British regimental or club ties.

Where to Wear a Tie

In many cases, where to wear a tie depends on who is wearing the tie. Some wear ties to work, some wear ties to school, while others wear them to social functions. Many wear ties for more than one function, and often different ties for different functions. Some wear bow ties, others may wear clip-on ties. Almost every man will wear a tie at some time in his life, even if only to be married or buried.

Wearing a Tie to Work

For many men, tying a tie is as much a part of their daily routine as putting on a shirt or a pair of trousers. Ties are often worn to work, whether as part of a uniform or simply due to the employer’s dress code. This may be less common than it once was, but for many men it is still a fact of everyday life. Some wear bow ties, a few wear clip-ons, but most wear a regular tie with a four-in-hand or Windsor knot.

Ties used to be a required part of business attire, worn with a suit by every banker in the City, along with most other professionals. Now, especially with some dress codes that required ties being ruled discriminatory, they are becoming less common. Ties are still worn, but more and more as part of a uniform, rather than a mark of status.

Wearing a Tie to School

Many schools still require that pupils wear ties as part of the uniform, just as they have for years. For some pupils, this is an opportunity to exercise their creativity, as they find different ways to tie the tie, often aiming to produce as short a result as is humanly possible. Some schools are fighting back by requiring the use of clip-on ties, ensuring the uniformity they seek in that way.

Wearing a Tie to a Job Interview

For many people, especially younger ones, one of the most common circumstances for wearing a tie is when going for a job interview. For most jobs, this is an excellent idea, with the tie providing just the right blend of formality to show that the candidate is taking both the position and the interview seriously. While this is a good general rule to follow, it may not be appropriate in all cases. If the workplace has a very casual approach to dress, it may be a better idea for the interviewee to dress more casually and forgo the tie in order to show they are a good fit with the workplace culture.

Despite this exception, wearing a tie to an interview still remains the appropriate choice in the vast majority of cases.

Wearing a Tie to a Social Function

Other places ties are commonly worn are social functions, especially formal ones. Most men wear ties to weddings, graduations, and other such functions. Ties may also be worn to the theatre, or the opera; in any formal situation. In a world of dark suits and white shirts, they may be the only splash of colour worn by any of the men present. Even though they may be becoming less common in these situations than they once were, ties are still worn often, and the frequency increases with the formality of the occasion. Everyone who has occasion to wear a suit, has occasion to wear a tie with it.

When to Wear Which Kind of Tie

One problem some have with ties is deciding which kind of tie to wear, and when. In most cases, the regular tie will do perfectly well, but there are times when one of the other choices may be more appropriate, be it a bow tie or a clip-on. The following table provides guidelines as to which tie to wear when.


When to Wear It

Clip-on Tie

These ties are usually worn as part of a uniform, particularly in cases where having something around the neck could pose a physical danger to the person wearing it


This is the most common tie, worn both to the workplace and for many social functions

Bow Tie

Usually worn with formal wear, these ties are most common at more formal social functions such as weddings


Only worn at very formal occasions

Although not exhaustive, the list above offers advice on appropriate occasions to wear a tie.

Buying a Tie on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to buy a tie whether you are looking for a bow tie for a wedding party or a bolo tie for a costume party. All you have to do is enter the terms you want into the search box that appears on every eBay page and watch the results come up. After your results appear, you can use the filters in the sidebar to narrow them down to just the tie you want whether by colour, style or even price. You can also sort the ties you find by everything from price to seller location. The ability to sort by location is helpful because if the seller is local it may be possible to save on shipping by arranging to pick up the ties in person. Not all sellers do this, but some do offer the option to bundle several ties, or other items, together and reduce shipping costs that way. If you go to the seller’s profile page, not only will you see their feedback, but you may also see their shipping policies.


While the number of places where a man will normally wear a tie may have decreased, there are still plenty of occasions where anyone would find it appropriate to wear a tie. They have been an integral part of male fashion for over a century and are no more likely to vanish from that position than trousers. Ties can be worn in the workplace; some jobs and employers even require them. Most uniforms include ties, whether for work or school, and many require clip-on ties. This is particularly true in schools, or in cases where wearing something around the neck could be hazardous to the wearer. Others may wear ties on formal occasions, such as weddings or graduations. Most men's formal wear requires some form of tie. Any time one is supposed to dress up, it is probably the right occasion to wear a tie.

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