Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Clothes Make the Man Child

When people talk about men's ties, you can expect to hear opinions about width, pattern, and color. At a higher level (and usually among tie aficionados and devotees), the conversation inevitably drifts to the knot; the shape of the knot, the size in relation to the collar, and the number of moves it takes to execute a particular knot.

What's rarely brought up in these conversations is proper tie length. Maybe people don't notice. Maybe they think it doesn't matter. Maybe they assume that length is simply a function of the cut and shape of the tie (and therefore beyond the wearer's control).

To these points, I offer the following: there is a proper length, you should notice, it does matter, and it can be controlled.

To be clear, the tip of your tie should land at the middle of the waistband/belt buckle.

"Tie length? Yuuuge, right?"
Donald Trump consistently wears his ties at cartoonish lengths. Maybe it's part of the Republican platform.
Photo copyright (c) Getty Images

As our friends at Fine Young Gentleman point out,  "When a tie is worn at the proper length it helps balance out your legs and torso, wearing a tie at an incorrect length can throw the balance of the ensemble off.  When worn too long it can make the whole look look frumpy and sloppy.  When worn too short the look can look clownish."

Mixed messages: My French cuffs say "sophistication". My tie length says "drunk uncle at your wedding".
Photo copyright (c) Getty Images

Since I've had at least an  inkling of this guideline for most of my tie-wearing life, I assumed it was common knowledge (or at least common knowledge among those whose occupations might require them to wear a tie on a regular basis). Clearly it's not. This week's RNC Convention in Cleveland highlighted the Right's apparent predilection for long, sloppy ties.

A white tie over dark slacks highlights both Mike Pence and his tie missing the mark.
Photo: Carrie Devorah /

Props to Peter Thiel. He probably wears a tie less than any of the Republican power brokers, and still managed to get closest to the correct length (Also, please don't sue me.).
Photo: Copyright (c) Just Jared Photo #: 3713426

Obviously set against the backdrop of xenophopic fear-mongering, racism (both implicit and explicit), divisive and dangerous rhetoric, and hypocritical opportunism, the length of a tie isn't a particularly egregious sin.  

Karl Rove and his water boy sporting laughably long ties. Apparently Karl's influence in the Party remains strong.
Photo: Copyright (c) Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Still, these are grown-ass men, powerful men, men who would presumably either know how to dress themselves or at least have people around them smart enough to help them out. If you've recently blanched at the idea of giving the nuclear codes to a thin-skinned narcissist, think about giving them to a thin-skinned narcissist who CAN'T EVEN TIE A TIE PROPERLY!.


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