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Getting the right tie length - Revised

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Amidst the ongoing situation that is happening at the moment, I am sure many of your original plans have been interrupted. Here at my blog, there are quite a few articles that are now postponed if not canceled because of the current lockdown.

But it is what it is - it's more important to have our family and friends, our beloved artisans, as well as others around the world to be in good health.

Anyway, for the time being, I thought it would be interesting to make a come back on a topic that I haven't touched on in a while ― tie length.


So why tie length? Why does it even matter, perhaps you may ask?

I'll start off by admitting this is something oddly specific. Because similar to most of you, I personally would still consider the length of a tie as the least important element when making a purchase. After all, you could always just get away with tucking the tail into your trousers.

In fact, if you look at the chronological order of the articles that I've published over the years on this site, you could see most of my earlier posts on ties either focus on the style, or the construction of the tie (still, it is more advanced than the former). These are, after all, more apparent to the eye at first glance.

But here's the catch. Once you get to a certain point of your sartorial journey, you start to nitpick even the finest details. And to me, tie length is one of these things.

My MTM Shibumi tie.

Let me start by stating what's my issue with some off-the-rack ties.

Most RTW ties you could find on the market have a standard size somewhere in between 147-150cm. This is undoubtedly quite long if you compare it to, say, a 50s tie, which is about 50 inches or 127cm long.

Now, occasionally, you could find some brands offer a shorter version of 140cm of the same model on a few specific products. But that's about it.

Meanwhile, ties that are 138-142cm long usually work the best on me. In fact, I even got away with a 135cm tie from Shibumi which I commissioned via its MTM line once. (More on how you can find out the right length in this same piece.)

So why does it differ so much from one person to another? The answer is I tick all of the three main boxes required for wearing ties with the shortest length.

1) I have a slim body shape

This is a no-brainer. If you don't have much volume around your chest or waist, then obviously you don't need that extra centimeter.

2) I wear high-waisted trousers (very high in fact)

This matters the most in my opinion.

Let's suppose the waistband is around 4.5cm long, even for someone like me who wears a size 28. This means your tie needs to be 2-2.5cm shorter compared to those who wear mid-waisted trousers, and another 2-2.5cm shorter in contrast to those who wear low-waisted trousers.

On a side note, I would thus advise you to be consistent with the type of trousers you wear (be it jeans, chinos, or tailored flannels, etc.) This way, you have one less concern when building your own tie collection.

3) I have a slim neck

Of all three factors, this is the one that I didn't realize until more recently.

With each size up for your shirt, your tie needs to be another 1.2-1.3 cm longer. So for someone who wears a size 14.5'', if not smaller, that adds another layer of challenge to get a tie with the right length.

All in all, unless you have features similar to mine or you have a significantly shorter torso (average is around 46-52cm), chances are you most likely would be able to wear ties that fall into the 142-147cm bracket. Meaning most RTW ties will be a tad long for you, but still, they are within the acceptable range.

And for those of you who face similar issues to mine, I would encourage you to check out some MTM programmes offered by various brands. Otherwise, vintage ties are also a good alternative.

Brown grenadine tie from Gentlemenclover, worn with a green suit from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.

Nonetheless, I don't encourage you to strictly follow this set of 'rules'.

First of all, I always believe that menswear 'rules' should just be guidelines and no more than that. Secondly, and more closely related to this topic, what I have said above is merely an oversimplistic overview of tie length. In fact, you should always consider the length in relation to the style and construction of the tie.

This brings me to a few questions that I would recommend you to think through before making a purchase.

1) What kind of fabric is used to make the tie? Is the tie tipped? Is it an interlined 3-fold or a 7-fold tie (or in between)?

These three questions concern the thickness of the tie. The rationale behind is that the thicker the tie, the less likely you're going to tie a four-in-hand or a prince Albert knot rather than an oriental knot, hence less tie length is required.

Let me demonstrate this with two ties from my own collection.