Today, we dip into the Style Girlfriend reader mailbag…
• Nickey asked:
“I’m just starting to build my wardrobe. What are your thoughts on the width of ties?”
To be perfectly honest, my thoughts on the width of a man’s tie are few and far between. I’m much more concerned with if he opens the door for me at a restaurant, or if he calls the day after a date.
That said, general wisdom dictates a width of 2.5 to 3 inches for most young professionals, with a wider tie looking more formal than a slimmer tie. A good rule to keep in mind when shopping: The width of your tie should match (or at least, not exceed) the width of your jacket lapels. Assuming you’re wearing a jacket or blazer with your tie, I suppose.
When all else fails, consider the width of your tie in proportion to your body type. Skinny rocker-type guys can get away with skinny rocker-type ties, while bigger guys might look like a giant lollipop if they wear neckwear too slim.
Beyond that, your neckwear – width, style, patterns, colors – is up to you. Sometimes wardrobe-building is simply an exercise in trial and error until you get it right.
And don’t forget, when it comes to length: The tip of your tie should hit your belt but not go past it.
• Andy asks:
“What are your thoughts on cummerbunds? I have a pretty traditional peak lapel tux and I’m a staunch supporter of black tie meaning bow ties and not neckties. But the concept of the cummerbund really befuddles me and I’m not sure I want to wear one again. It’s just such a superfluous article of clothing. The trend in formalwear seems to be ‘no cummerbund,’ but I’m of the opinion that formal wear shouldn’t be too influenced by current trends.”
My first cummerbund question! But hopefully not my last! There must be thousands of them out there, right? Send them all my way immediately.
Far from superfluous, though, a cummerbund has the (sometimes daunting) task of covering a man’s waist, where the studs on his shirt end and the buttons begin. The black tie accessory came into popularity as an alternative to a vest or waistcoat; if you’re not the waistcoat-wearing kind, it may be a good option.
With the low-waisted pants and high-buttoning coats that many tuxedos feature these days, a vest or cummerbund may be your best option to maintain your tuxedo shirt’s modesty. While a vest may feel more cumbersome initially, its benefit is when you take the jacket off and still look put together.
Ultimately, so long as your lower half isn’t on display on the dance floor, you’re good to go. Whether that’s with the help of a cummerbund, a vest or by simply keeping your jacket buttoned is up to you.