Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
We’ve all been there. Over, under, up, pull through, knot.
Maybe you’re going to a fancy black tie event, or just putting in some extra effort for your Grandma’s birthday. Properly tying a necktie is a skill that every young guy should know.
The dilemma of proper tie length is one that faces every man at one point or another and we have helpfully provided a simple guide for getting it right. The correct length of tie can be combined with your locker of excellent colour combinations to ensure you have a killer suit for every occasion in your wardrobe. In a world of changing trends and new ideas, the humble tie is not going anywhere, so it’s more important than ever to know what the proper length is.
So just how long should a tie be?
How Long Should Your Tie Be? Quite Simply, It’s All Relative
Some of us wear one daily for work, some of us may not have given much time to tie-wearing since our school days. We’ve all had different experiences and regularity when it comes to donning a tie. The good news to know when wondering about the right length of a tie is that there is one rule for all.
The tip of your tie should sit in the middle of your waistband or belt when standing with your natural posture, it really is that simple! A key thing here is not to think that your natural posture is with your back completely straight and your shoulders puffed out. It might be nice to pretend when standing in front of the mirror in the morning, but you won’t be able to keep it up all day and your tie will end up being too long.
Always remember that the proper length of tie is relative to your waistband and will therefore depend on your trouser style, torso length, braces and belt. A useful visual aid (if you’re wearing a belt) is that it will line up with the prong of your belt buckle which will be at the mid point. Never tie your tie before putting it on, it won’t fall correctly and is likely to end up looking scruffy. Trying to cut corners and save time in this way will only mean you end up with a worse outcome, or waste time having to adjust it before giving up and starting from scratch.
Essentially it works out like this: too long and your tie will hang below the waistband into the crotch area and will stick out the bottom of any jacket you’re wearing, not a good look. Too short and the placket and buttons of your shirt will be visible below the tie. This makes the torso look like it’s wider and less streamlined. The proper tie length sits in the middle of the waistband.
Naturally, if you’re wearing a waistcoat as part of your look there is a bigger margin for error because the end of your tie will be out of sight, but either way, it’s still good practice and helps the visible section look more in proportion if you get it right. Ask a friend or look in a mirror to double-check what it looks like, and if it’s not quite there then there’s no harm in trying again. It’s always worth getting the tie length perfect, even if it means sacrificing an extra minute or two in the morning. Totally worth it to look good all day.
Be There Or Be Square
One sure way to set yourself out from a crowd is by adding a square-tipped tie in place of the more traditional diamond style. These tie shapes are most commonly found in knit ties and can provide a more vintage and cosy look that lends itself well alongside fabrics like tweeds and checks. They’ve made a bit of a comeback in recent years which is only cause for celebration.
The rule with a square tie is the same as always, with the tip sitting nicely between the top and bottom of the waistband or belt. Ensure the flat edge is in the middle, exactly where you would want the diamond tip to be on your more classic tie. It’s not rocket science.
A square-tipped tie will bring an extra level of diversity to your arsenal to ensure you can keep things interesting, especially when you find yourself around a hundred other men in suits at a wedding, dinner, or dance. Knit ties give off a certain sensibility and warmth that you can’t achieve with the sleek silky styles that occupy big city banks and offices, so they’re well worth a go if you want to show off your more approachable side. You can get knit ties in the more classic diamond shape as well, so there are plenty of ways to tailor to your taste if you want to.
Don’t Be Afraid To Go Long
If you’re lucky enough to be tall or have a particularly long or bulky torso, you may find that wearing the standard 57” tie doesn’t quite cut it. When you try to achieve the correct tie length with a tie that is too short for you, the loop on the back of the tie ends up being too low down to tuck the thin end into. This isn’t the end of the world but it can be annoying to be penalised for your height and build – not ideal.
One solution to this (which many men use anyway) is to call in some help from a tie bar or tie clip which can be used to clip the two ends of the tie together and prevent the inside end from flapping about and ruining your look. The tie clip should be placed between the third and fourth buttons from the top of your shirt, allowing it to latch on to the shorter end with ease. Tie clips can also add a little bit of shine to your outfit to match your cufflinks or belt buckle. Having these three key accessories all in matching silver can help to bring the outfit together.
Alternatively, you can look into long ties which will provide you with a way to get the extra few inches you need for the proper tie length every time. They can come in lengths of up to 63 inches and are definitely worth investing in if you’re a regular tie wearer who needs to get the added length. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also opt for getting a custom tie made to the length you need, which also allows you to have more control over fabrication, colour and width that you might like, in order to create the right tie for you.
A general rule of thumb when using a tie clip is to ever so slightly give some slack above the clip. This allows for your neck to turn and move without putting a strain on the clip but also lets you adjust the tie length if you need to by pulling the tie-up or down through the clip. Helpful if you’re half an inch away from the desired length.
The Proper Tie Length Rules
While we all have different body shapes and sizes, ensuring your tie length hits the sweet spot will provide a well-proportioned finish to your look. Regardless of whether it’s a three-piece suit or dressed down with some jeans, making sure you wear your tie right is a key skill to master. Now when anyone asks you “how far down should a tie go?”, you’ll be able to explain that the proper tie length should end in the middle of your waistband or belt. Simple.