With a great suit comes great responsibility. So put your hands up and step back from the monocle cabinet – it’s all about tie clips and tie bars today as we run you through the different types, how to wear them and the wardrobe combinations to wear them with. Whether it’s a suit, suit separates, a dress shirt or any other look that sits in between, a tie bar can take your classy attire to suave new heights.
If you’ve ever wondered how to wear a tie clip properly, strap in and listen up, suit monkey.
In this story…
How To Wear Tie Clips & Tie Bars
Tie bars and tie clips have seen a renaissance in the past few years thanks to the Americans who made it cool again via shows like Mad Men and guys like Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake who rocked them in their respective films circa 2011.
Where to place the tie bar: Don’t take advice from your dodgy car salesman uncle. Modern tie bars are designed to sit specifically between the third and fourth button of a dress shirt. When your suit jacket is buttoned up, the tie clip should still be visible.
You’ll know you’re wearing it right when: Your tie doesn’t flap around – it’s meant to hold it in place with your dress shirt placket as opposed to clipping directly onto the tie itself just for looks.
Choosing the right tie bar: This means choosing one that is never wider than your tie. If you’re wearing a fat tie you can opt for a longer tie bar. As the ties get skinnier so too do the widths of your tie bars. The tie bar should either be the same width as your tie or narrower.
Tie Bar vs Tie Clip
The main difference between a tie clip and a tie bar is that a tie clip opens up via a spring which you then place over the tie and shirt and secure in place. A tie bar simply slides over the tie and shirt to hold the two together.
To give some further clarity, they can be referred to as the Pinch Clasp tie clip (left) and the Side Clasp tie bar (right). The names are self-explanatory with the Side Clasp tie bar sliding over the tie and under the shirt to hold the tie in place.
A Pinch Clasp tie clip is more like a peg with serrated teeth on the rear. Simply hold the tie bar, place it over the tie and let the rear section bite onto the inside placket of the shirt to hold the tie in place. If you need a simple analogy, think of one as a peg and the other as a paper clip.
Wearing A Tie Clip With A Shirt
As a pared-down look, the dress shirt, tie and trouser combo is a tried and tested combo of the corporate world. The issue with corporate though is that men tend to end up looking exactly the same as one another. This is where the tie bar can come to the rescue. Whether it’s a solid coloured tie, a knitted tie or a striped tie, tie bars can add that extra element of office smarts to your most conservative look without getting you fired for aesthetic insubordination.
Choose your tie bar colours wisely though as today’s offerings can range from the traditional brushed steel through to zany colours and clip designs – ever seen a purple penis tie clip? You don’t want to and neither will your colleagues. If you’re not sure always play it safe by using a silver tie bar or tie clip that matches your tie’s width or is thinner.
Wearing A Tie Clip With A Suit
Throw on a suit with your tie clip and you’ve got instant sartorial cred. The same tie bar and tie clip rules apply here but now you get to play with colours – and there are lots of them. Modern menswear has shown off tie clips that match the colour of the suit or the tie itself, making them more subtle and fashionable than functional.
If you’re going to wear a tie clip with a suit, there’s only one rule to remember – don’t go overboard with your accessories. Given the customisable nature of suits with lapel pins, collar pins, pocket squares and more, it’s easy to get lost in all the details and end up looking like a dapper voodoo doll – that’s bad.
Matching Tie Clips To Your Suit
As we mentioned before there’s now a plethora of tie clip designs and colours to choose from. Whilst you’ll never go wrong with a traditional silver tie clip, men have been trying out bolder designs in the past decade to match their personalities. You can now find everything from anchors to animals to teeth designs but there is a silver lining – you need to draw the line between cool and down-right tacky. Remember that your suit should be the defining statement rather than a tie clip that alienates people.
The Tom Hardy combo above is a great example of a perfectly matched tie clip and suit. The look Hardy has gone for is 1920s English so there are pinstripes, patterns and a contrasting club collar dress shirt (rounded collars). With so many elements going on, a gold tie bar in a slim tooth design is just enough to add a final polish to the look without going overboard.
Matching Tie Clips To Suit Separates
The wonders of suit separates allow for a more casual feel to a formal look. As such, tie bar and tie clip colours can also follow suit. There are no real rules when matching tie bars to suit separates but there are guidelines. Clashing or heavily opposing colours will probably be harder on the eyes – think a navy suit with a blue tie and hot pink tie bar – a more conservative hue would work much better here.
Given that suit separates already give you contrasting top and bottom colours, tie bars can also match the colour of your tie or be a shade similar. This gives your whole look a much cleaner feel, but up close the finer details are still there. Think of a combo like a black tie with a black or grey tie bar or a dark green tie with a matte green tie bar. What’s trending at the moment for tie bars is matte finishing across countless colours. It’s a more subtle way of showing off a bit of personality and they’re the perfect option for suit separates.
Tie Clip FAQ