Everything You Need to Know About Tie Bars How to pair them, where to clip it, and more
Gentlemen, the tie bar, tie clip, tie clasp, tie slide–call it what you will–is your ode to style and class. You’re already wearing your favorite tie, so why wouldn’t you take it one step further? A tie bar will make you look significantly better. And trust us, there’s so much more to that piece of metal than you think!
Men’s tie bars date back to the days of tie chains, tie pins, and collar pins; back to the days when men’s fashion meant being authentic and classy, not ‘baller’ and ‘swagged out’; back when people communicated with sentences, not acronyms. But first, there was the tie pin. It conquered the ties of hundreds of Victorian Era gentlemen. With the introduction of the tie pin, ties could no longer fly with the wind, nor could they ruin soup dinners. The issue with said tie pins, however, was the perforated aftermath. The pins punctured neckwear, reducing their lifespan. A dapper 1900’s era gentleman acknowledged this and revolutionized the tie accessory that we know and love today. The spring-loaded tie bar was born as a solution so that ties no longer needed to be punctured in order to be kept in check. Soon after, a more simple slide version of this bar came into existence. These little improvements and the importance placed on this accessory contributed to the style and class that defined pre-21st century men. How do you wear a tie bar? How do you choose one? Well, the answers come down to the very attention to detail that molded this accessory.
Much like cufflinks, tie bars speak volumes about one’s personality. Sure, they are small, but remember what Yoda said? Size matters not, gentlemen. At least, not in this circumstance. The right tie bar is ultimately the one that you feel the most comfortable and confident wearing. However, to help you along with this ever-so-important choice, we have a couple of suggestions.
Whether you’re going for a classy or a more fashion-forward look, the tie bar will vastly improve any ensemble you’re planning to don. It’s like a cherry on top… but better.
Slide and clasp bars are generally the same (when seen from the front, at least). The choice then comes down to preference.
The tie clasp operates on a hinge and essentially clips onto your tie to secure it in place. The slide bar, on the other hand, works like its namesake implies–you simply push and slide it into place. Whatever you prefer, either one gets the job done.
Then comes tie bar dimension. Do you want yours flat or, well, voluminous? A flat tie bar is for the minimalist gentleman. It shows that you are aware of your fashion sense but you do not advertise it; you are letting it speak for itself. A tie bar with dimension is for the gentleman who appreciates a second degree of detail (that is, detail on detail). Be prepared for action within your personal space–people will want to come in for a closer look.
Think of the finish on your tie bar like the finish on your car. It can be matte, semi-gloss, or gloss. A matte finish is more subtle without any sheen at all. This finish will not blind anyone but it will glow with style-y goodness. Glossy or metallic finishes are more standard for tie bars. They will provide you with a classic look, much like the look of those Mad Men fellas, and who wouldn’t want to be that suave?
There was a point in the bar’s history when colors were essentially limited. You had gold or you had silver.
Glossy silver works well with practically any tie combination. Gold, on the other hand, will certainly stand out, and thus it does not work well with all color combinations. Gold will work best against a darker blue or red hue. However, it can most definitely add a pop of flair. And of course, both colors would pair perfectly with any black tie, the eternal neckwear staple.
The color options for tie bars have grown in recent years as menswear is making a comeback. Colors now range from neutrals to neons and everything in between. Though these do stray from a classic look and are significantly more fashion-forward, when worn with gusto, their effect is great. Do proceed with caution, though. As the colors get more bold, their ability to complement decreases, and they will ultimately steal the show as opposed to simply adding to your overall outfit. But, don’t be afraid to experiment, you may just find an odd combination that works for you!
If you will be wearing other accessories, be mindful of their colors as they can potentially clash with the tie bar. If you want to play it safe, match your tie bar and cufflinks. If you’re feeling bold, go forth and pair how you will. Kudos! Let us know what worked for you.
The first rule of tie bar sizing is… well, that you don’t talk about tie bar size. No, that’s not true. There is one caveat to tie bar sizing, and that is to keep it smaller than the width of your tie. Sizes range from half an inch to three inches. Generally, skinny ties will be worn with tie bars under an inch, while wider ties will work better bars greater than an inch. Work it out visually–if the bar extends further than the tie, something is wrong.
Now that you have a color-coordinated and properly sized bar, it’s time to determine its position. There is a general area between the third and fourth button on your dress shirt that we dubbed “the sweet spot,” but if you want to get a little more specific, the sweetest spot is right below the third button. This is where the bar can truly shine in all its glory while retaining its impeccable functionality. If you position it too high, you’re basically choking your tie and losing your bar’s functionality (it will no longer work well at holding your tie in place). Too low, and you are getting into a weird asymmetric zone. Stick to the sweet spot; you’ll know when you’ve found it.
What happens when I wear a jacket or a cardigan? Don’t worry. It’s all good. The two primary functions of the bar are to hold the tie in place and add some extra style. Just keep the position of the tie bar in mind. If you were thinking of wearing your bar close to the fourth button, you might want to move it up toward the second or third button if you put on another layer (especially if you’re buttoning it), so that you can still see the tie bar in all its sartorial glory.
What about the type of tie? Frankly, tie bars can go with any tie–skinny ties, wide ties, knit ties, novelty ties–you name it. All we ask, for the sake of the tie, is that you mind the tie’s construction. For example, if it’s a knit tie we recommend using a tie slide rather than a clamp, as the clamp’s teeth may damage the tie.
There are alternatives to tie bars. They do look good, but some do still require puncturing the tie.
The tie tac, tie tack, or tie pin has the same function as a tie bar. It is pinned on to the tie and a chain attaches to the shirt through a button hole.
The tie chain clips on to a button on the shirt, and the tie is placed through the chain to hold it down. All of these items achieve the same end goal, so it all comes down to preference.
Well, there you have it gents. You can be Mr. GQ with just a few easy pointers and a shiny (or not shiny) little tie bar. If you’re not a tie bar expert at this point, let us know. We’ll fill in the gaps. The types of the tie bars out there change as trends do. However, their addition to style and class does not. Wear your tie bar, be authentic, and stay classy. Trust us, that tie bar looks great on you.