Tie Width – How Slim or Wide Should You Go?
Q: “I just bought my first slim-fit suit from Black Lapel. Do I need to slim down my ties to match my slimmer suit? What’s a simple way to determine the width of my tie to match the rest of my suit?” – Mike E.
Skinny Tie Width
A: This is a common question, often framed the wrong way. “What skinny tie width is in fashion these days?” “What are your thoughts on ultra skinny ties?” (No.) “How wide are the ties that Harvey Specter wears?” Instead of thinking about tie width by itself, its something you should consider in conjunction with your lapel width (learn more about lapel width here). We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, it’s about proportions. Choosing your tie width, much like choosing the other aspects of your favorite suit, should factor in its surroundings–your chest and shoulder size, the fit of your suit, dress shirt collar width, lapel width and your face shape. However, as our neighborhood oracle would say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Here’s a simple rule that’s easy to remember: Match the widest point of your tie to the widest point of your suit lapel.
(*Black Lapel’s slim and normal lapels are approximately 2.75″ and 3.25″ at their widest point respectively, so you would choose a tie width around 3.00″ at its widest point.)
It’s not an exact science and you can go up or down (mismatch the width) by about 0.25″ either direction, but this rule of thumb will help you achieve a more balanced look. Just don’t start looking for suits with 1.00″ lapels to match your uber-skinny tie.
Got a question to ask us on tie width? Leave a comment below!
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What about for weddings? We have 8 groomsmen, all different heights and sizes. The groom is slim and I wanted to go with a slim tie but this would not look right on the bigger guys? Can you have 2 sizes or shall I just go standard all round so they match? Thanks in advance
For bigger guys, it’s usually suggested to stay away from the slim tie. As for the standardized size, we suggest to keep it all the same across the board, it will make the group look cleaner and like it’s been organized!
Hi, I was thinking of giving a gift to a special someone and thought of a tie cause he always wear suits. But it has to be a surprise. Do I have to ask the size of his lapel? Thanks!
Hi, I’m planning to buy a special someone a gift and I’ve thought about a tie since he always wear suits. Should I ask him the size of his lapel? But it might spoil my gift. Thank you.
Always a great gift. Unless you know this special someone wears particularly slim or large lapels, you should be fine buying a standard size tie.
I “inherited” some of my dad’s ties back in high school, they are all older 50′ s skinny ties. the widest is 1.5 in and I have always gotten complements when ever I wear them. I have always felt any thing over 2″ was a “swingin’ 60’s wide tie” and should be regulated to the history books along with wide lapels and velvet pants.
Nice. Vintage ties that have been passed down are the ultimate sprezz.
Is it better to go over or under the lapel width? In other words, if my lapel is 2.75″, is it better to go with a 2.5″ tie or a 3″ tie? Thanks!
Go back up to the rule of thumb we outline above: the tie at its widest point should match the lapel at its widest point. So, if your lapel is 2.75″, it’s safer to go with a 3″ tie at it’s widest point.
Hi, I am a 17 year old guy, I am about 5′ 11 feet, with a slim build. I don’t wear a suit very often, but I do need to wear a suit 5-6 times a year. Should I buy a tie that is 2.5 inches wide or a tie that is 3 inches wide? also, I will be buying a wool tie, considering it is a heavy material should that affect my choice?
Regardless of your age, size or how often you wear a suit, you should follow the advice above and get a tie that is roughly the same width as your jacket’s lapels. If your jacket’s got three inch wide lapels, three inch wide ties are the way to go. If the lapels are two inches, go with ties around two inches as well.
As for wool ties, the main thing to think about is seasonality. Wool ties are for fall and winter (they will make you feel warmer than silk). If you don’t put on a suit and tie that often, we suggest you have a couple of all-seasonal silk ties to give you the most versatility before you start expanding into seasonal ties like wool for winter or cotton for summer.
Does body type/size play a factor in tie width? I’m 6’2″ and my coast size is a 46 while my pants are 34. I also have a big head and think skinny ties look bad on me. I know it should be close to my lapel width but any additional thoughts on the maximum or minimum tie width I should wear?
You should consider your body type when shopping for ties, Bradon. A slim tie can look more like a skinny tie on a broad chested guy. The skinny tie moment seems to have faded anyway, so you probably don’t have much to worry about. And if you’ve already got a lot of jackets with regular width lapels, you should try to play to your wardrobe’s strengths and match the tie widths.
Your body type is more important, though, when you are deciding on a tie knot. While for most guys the tie knot conversation begins and ends with the four-in-hand tie knot you may want to consider a half-Windsor or even full Windsor knot to balance out a fuller face.
Apologies if this has already been addressed, I didn’t have time to read all the comments. What are everyone’s thoughts on pairing a slim (2-2.25in) tie with normal width peak lapels? I know the proportion rule, but I also know some rules can look good when broken properly, so what are some thoughts?
A problem I’ve just encountered with a 3.25″ grenadine tie I just purchased is that while it is 3.25″ at its widest point, it also doesn’t taper as much, so it looks much wider than other 3.25″ ties I have in my collection. Is there supposed to be a standard template that tie manufacturers are supposed to follow with regard to the proportions up and down the tie? The discrepancy between manufacturers makes online shopping challenging.
We hear you, David. That’s why we make everything custom—avoids that whole mess. It’s hard to judge your tie since we don’t know the manufacturer, but the truth is that tie shapes can vary depending on the brand and the manufacturer. Even ties sold by the same brand can have different shapes and proportions. If you have a shape you like, the best way to get a good sense of this would be to see the tie in person, or have bespoke ties that are made per your exact specifications.
how about the tie width if I’m not wearing a suit, just a shirt, at work, I do that every day and need an advice about the tie width in this situation please
This story is about the importance of the right tie width in comparison to your suit jacket and its lapels. It sounds like you’re more interested in what will look good when you’re just wearing a shirt and tie. That turns your dilemma into a matter more about tie knots rather than tie width. So, instead, you should be asking: which tie knot is right for me? Well, we’ve got that answer for you too.
I have a round face and there is a 7cm width tie that I like that has eye patterns running down the tie. I would just like to know, will it be a safe choice for me to wear?
The advice above still holds true, Roberto, go by your lapel width. Pay no attention to the pattern on the tie. You don’t even have to worry about your face shape. If your tie’s width matches your lapel width you’re generally good to go. And remember, this doesn’t to be exact. No need to get out your ruler or anything. Just eyeball it.
I just ordered a necktie and I read its width at the widest point is 3.9″ (10cm) and its length is 59″ (148cm). I am a slim man but don’t prefer to wear narrow ties. I am 5’10” tall. Do you think the tie is fine for me?
As we noted above, your tie width should match your lapel width. If your lapels are wide, wide ties, like the one you’re referring to, are fine regardless of how tall or slim you are.
None of this has to be exact. Nobody’s going to be walking down the street with a ruler measuring your tie width down to the millimeter and comparing it to the width of your lapels and declaring you unstylish if they don’t match up. Just check your lapels on your jackets and come up with a rough average, look for ties around that width and you’ll be all set.
Thank you for your reply 🙂
Is it not possible to get an email notification when our question is answered?
Glad we could help. We don’t offer comment subscriptions but we do reply to all of the comments so check in regularly.
What about the shirt collar dimensions – should they match the jacket lapel as well? This means all three (collar-lapel-tie) should harmonize, right?
All three—shirt collar, lapel, tie—should be harmonious, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they all have to be the same size. You can reference this story about the type of collar you should be wearing, but again, it all has to do with face shape and proportions. If you follow the rules laid out in both of these stories your look will appear natural and harmonious.
Most people does not care about the size of their ties. they think that no one notice this point but mainly in official line people should take more care about ties. you are really helping to get knowledge about ties by providing this type of amazing posts. Thanks for providing useful information.
We couldn’t agree more. A bad tie—wrong color, wrong width— is so noticeable! We’re committed to helping spread the knowledge and feel free to spread the wealth by reposting 🙂
My old suits and ties; all good shape, circa 2000 have lapels 3″ to 3 1/2″ with one at 3 3/4″. My ties (about 20) are 3 3/4″ to 4″ with majority at 3 3/4 inches. Can this still work without being a major faux pas? I am 5’10” medium-heavy build in mid 50’s. I rarely wear suits these days, but don’t want to blow it when I do need to “dress up”.
Your suits and ties can still work. Like we said, it’s not an exact science and these widths fall pretty closely within our rule of thumb here. Have faith in your style and you definitely won’t blow it.
Can you please comment on tie prints and patterns? My son is a junior in college and will be doing a lot of interviews soon. He was a high school football player like his dad. His dad had such big shoulders (offensive line man), that he could not buy a suit off of the rack. Someone recommended us to a traveling guy that measured my husband in a hundred different ways. We picked out the fabrics, and poof…. beautiful custom suits arrived from Hong Kong 6 weeks later. They are the classic style with 2 1/2 ” lapels and light weight British wool. While my husband has outgrown the suits, with a few alterations, they fit my son beautifully. So, what kind of pattern should a big guy wear for a job interview? He has a big chest and shoulders, but not fat. What about tie clips these days. Thanks for your help.
Your boys are in the right hands, Catherine. Black Lapel has suited up many football players!
Any interview look should contain subtle colors and very minimal pattern – you don’t want to out-dress the boss. You also don’t want to be taken less seriously for wearing anything too bold or bright. So depending on the suit color, your son’s tie should compliment that color, not contrast it. The rule of thumb for this tie’s width is as follows… the widest part of the tie should match the widest part of the lapel (2.5″ in this case). In terms of other accessories like a tie clip, I say no-go. You don’t want to wear anything flashy to an interview, the interviewer can easily get the wrong impression about your character.
Take this all with a grain of salt, certain offices allow for more creativity in your professional appearance. For more guidance, send your son this article: “How To Nail Your Interview Look.”
Does the rule apply in reverse? I have a suit with relatively slim lapel but the majority of my ties are a lil wider. There isnt a huge disparity but the size difference is pretty apparent when my jacket is unbuttoned. Because the difference isnt so bad, it looks okay to me. Thoughts?
The rule here is a rule of thumb, so there’s a little wiggle room, but it would be ideal if the disparity is no more than 0.25” in either direction. If the difference is close to this amount of wiggle room, your look sounds good to go.
Also, to your point about the size difference being apparent when the jacket is unbuttoned, there’s a simple solution to that (and it’s a rule that we abide by all the time): when you’re not seated, keep your jacket buttoned.
BlackLapel just got me set up with a great suit for my wedding. It was super easy, the best part is the suits look great and no “name brand” price. Thanks Matt. jk
That’s what we do, Jeff. Congratulations!
I prefer silk brocade ties of the 1920s and 1930s Art Deco era. They are shinny, not too long, and perfectly thin as to not make a ridiculously fat not that is way out of proportion with the suit. Fat knots wider than the lapels is a fashion disaster and looks horrific.
Nothing wrong with a little throwback style, JD. The old style brocades can get pretty busy looking but if you pair them well with more subdued suits and shirts, they do the trick.
Thanks for your response. It’s good to learn something I never knew !
Happy to help, Clifford. We know how the rules of style can seem so serious and unbreakable, but no need to fret. Learn the rules so that you can, in time, break them.
I just bought a tie that is around 2.75 inches and my suits’ lapel is around 3.15. Can I get away with it if I can wear them together? I have saw this article right after I had bought the tie.
Yes, you can get away with this, Clifford. While, in an ideal world everything would match up, nobody’s going to be going around with a ruler checking your tie and lapel widths. Think of this as more of a guideline. You don’t want to be going around in a super-skinny tie with aircraft carrier peak lapels but these sizes are both pretty reasonable and won’t look unbalanced when worn together.
And, of course, man cannot live on one tie alone. When you shop for more, look for ties in the 3 inch range to wear with this suit.
Where can I get one of those ultra skinny ties? I can’t find them. What are they exactly called?
We call ultra skinny ties a lot of things and none of them are nice but the actual name is just what we called them in the story “ultra skinny ties.”
If you want one, Amazon’s got you covered, Mac: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Satin-Ultra-Skinny-1-5/dp/B000GPCBZG.
Our only question is: Why?
Why are you doing this to yourself?
The old rule is to never wear a tie that is skinnier than your johnson…
I am very tie picky both in terms of patterns and materials, as well as width. I know that my personal sweet spot is 2.5-2.75″, I have a few slimmer and wider, but the ones that see regular wear in the rotation are usually in that ballpark. As a result, I typically go with a lapel in the 2.5-2.75″ range on my suits to correspond, so that I can pull off most of my ties with it… I see so many guys thinking they’re wearing a classy tie, when what they’re wearing was really designed to prevent spillage of garlic butter from the lobster dinner on their shirt… (Fred Flinstone is not a fashion icon to aspire to…)
The trickier pairing I find is bow tie to lapel. I know traditionally the same rules apply, but it’s sometimes hard to find bow ties that match your lapel width… (you don’t want slim lapels and floppy bow tie or big bold lapels and a chincy one…)
Wow, Adam. Sounds like your closet is a precision instrument of badassery. We’ll want to see some of your work on SuitCity
How wide should my tie be if I want to look like Gene Rayburn on “Match Game”? (Ya know, Halloween coming up and all)
Well, we have now recovered from the fit of laughter your comment caused us. Suffice it to say, Gene Rayburn from Match Game is one of our all-time favorite Halloween costumes (and we’ve got a laundry list of good ones here and here). You must send pictures, though it will hard to top the original when he wore outfits like this.
As for tie width, to truly nail the look, go for something over four inches wide. And we have got the perfect source for you to check out. Click here to see some six inch wide ties (SIX INCHES!) that are all on sale for about $3.50. That’s a little over 50 cents and inch. Booyah!
Great information as I just purchased a suit with peak lapels. Thanks!
Excellent! Glad we piqued your interest (pun intended).
How do you measure peak lapels’ width? Also, is the measurement taken with the tape parallel to the ground or perpendicular to the folded side of the lapel?
You measure a peak lapel from the point of the lapel to the roll and measure with the tape parallel to the ground, PP.
Sorry, PP, think we misread the second part of your question. To get the precise width of the lapel, measure by holding the tape perpendicular to the inner edge of the lapel.
For some reason I love skinny ties… I think wide ties look goofy and old fashioned. I think guys in good shape with skinny ties and fitted suits look pretty sexy.
maybe it’s a 60s British thang that harks back to childhood but I’m still into them.
Plus when you go into stores like Dolce and Gabbana that’s about all they sell!
For a skinny tie guy, the slim lapel is the way to go. The key is to keep everything in proportion. Those brands selling only skinny ties tend to sell only slim lapels on their jackets too. Keep everything in proportion and you’re 90% of the way down the road to dapper-ville.
Important and a great suggestion. I feel that extremely slim ties don’t look good and shouldn’t be worn at all. Thanks again
While on certain body types (skinny dudes) a extremely slim ties can work, on balance we’d agree. Getting the proportions right is the key.
A tie question 🙂
My son got a Bottega Veneta tie as a gift. It is a normal length tie, but.. at both end it looks the same, with a width of 7 cm. Can this be a mistake of the tailor?? Shall I have it corrected on one end, or is there a way to make a knot so it looks good??
Many slimmer ties are nearly the same width on both ends. It could be an error, we wouldn’t want to speculate on the tailoring of a competitor, though.
At 7 cm. (2.75 in.) wide, your son really doesn’t have to worry too much about adjusting the knot to hide anything in this tie. A simple, four-in-hand knot should work just fine.
Love this comment, it says a lot of you. The article is in fact, very useful and I appreciate very much the ilustration.
The illustration is really good, but I suggest clarifying the rule because often it gets cited without the illustration.
“Match the widest point of your tie THAT IS VISIBLE…”
Something like that; probably still not accurate, but better.
Great point, Joshua. For the purposes of guiding your outfit decisions, the two points (widest visible and widest point) are probably close enough that either will work. After all, it is a “rule of thumb” and not an absolute “rule”.
Is “clutch” the word now? 😛
Pretty much summed up my thoughts. You really can’t go wrong with a 3″ tie today and that’s how wide most of mine are. (Though I have a few wider ones from the mid-2000s, when I first started dressing well, that would be considered “dated” now.) If you’re a bigger guy, you should consider 3.5″-3.75″ ties and lapels to be more proportionate to your body type.
So what do you do with all those “dated” ties? Perhaps donate them to a larger friend? Now that would be the “clutch” move. 😉
Nah, I still keep them. They look good with my wider lapeled suits.
I thought the word of the day was “fetch”? 😉 And it totally is a thing.
You could also turn those wider ties into skinny ties: http://www.designmom.com/2010/08/diy-skinny-ties/
Wow, this is a great idea. Thanks for sharing Rishi!
Perfect timing. I was just thinking about this exact thing this morning.
Don’t you just love how clutch we are? 😉
Great rule of thumb. What color suit is featured in the photo?
Kyle, that’s our Solid Charcoal Blue Suit! Handsome, isn’t it? 😉
In “The Story” section of this suit, the last sentence should use the word “you’re,” not “your.”
‘so wear this suit only if your comfortable with constant compliments’
Good eye, Alex. Thanks for the heads up.