Tuck, clip, or just take your chances?
Forget about climate change, global warfare, and political gridlock. What we really want to know is where do you stand on the question of “to tuck or not to tuck?” Is tucking your tie into your shirt-front acceptable tie etiquette? Surprisingly, a quick perusal of men’s fashion blogs points to a fairly even split of yeas and nays. The trendier blogs are all for it, even referring to the look as the “Manhattan Tuck.” On the other hand, the more conservative “gentlemen’s” blogs are almost all universally opposed to the idea (actually, scornful might be a more apt descriptor). There’s also some dissent about where the practice originated, but those who’ve been around long enough to know point to the military. Soldiers, in years past, tucked in their ties to achieve a uniform look (so that no one individual’s tie would appear longer than another’s) and to keep the ties out of their way while they worked.
It’s hard to argue the second point. Wearing a tie in a machine shop, science lab, or behind a restaurant grill is clearly tempting fate, as is wearing a tie while scarfing down a juicy quarter pounder. Of course, a run-in between your favorite tie and a greasy burger isn’t likely to cost you your life or a limb. However, it can set you back a pretty penny in dry cleaning fees, not to mention the hit your ego will take when you return to the office wearing your lunch.
How many food-splattered ties are hanging in your closet right now? And what tricks have you devised to keep your few remaining clean ties from becoming dining room casualties? Are you a tucker? Or do you just toss your tie over your shoulder while you manhandle those BBQ ribs and baked beans? Or maybe you’re one of those guys who plasters himself with napkins – one on your lap and one tucked into your collar. This, we’re told, is another military habit - handed down from father to son and hard to break.
If you routinely use any one of the tricks above, even with some small modicum of success, we applaud your practicality. After all, ties made of 100 percent Italian silk don’t just grow on trees. On the other hand, even though you have our support, you should be prepared to put up with the haters. The naysayers are fairly heated in their opposition to the practices above. The general implication is that if you can’t manage to wield a fork and knife without spilling food all over yourself, perhaps you should consider eating at home – alone. While we think this assessment is unnecessarily harsh (even downright mean), we’d like to point out that there is one more alternative worthy of consideration. Why not invest in a small, affordable, easy-to-use and highly effective tie bar?
The history of tie bars - in a nutshell
According to The Gentleman’s Gazette, the tie bar dates back to 1870 when aristocrats began using tacks and stick pins to keep their lightweight, billowy neck scarves from flapping in the wind. In the early 1900s, the cut of men’s neckwear changed significantly and heavier fabrics were introduced, along with what we now call tie bars. By the mid-1900s, tie bars had become a staple of every man’s wardrobe. Some were plain polished metal with a simple engraved business or club logo; while others were highly decorative pieces with elaborate embossed patterns and jewel inlays. As vests fell by the wayside, the lowly tie bar gained in stature and managed to hold its own until the 80s when open collars, polyester suits, silk shirts and Disco took over. Having been relegated to the back corner of the dresser drawer for a few decades, tie bars are now enjoying a popular resurgence. The right tie bar can not only hold your tie firmly in place, it can express your personality and sense of style, your allegiance to a sport or team, your affiliation with a school or business, or your love of a favorite pastime. In other words, it can help you define you.
The right way to wear a tie bar
If you do decide to go the tie bar route, be aware there is a right way and a wrong way to sport this particular fashion accessory.
- Do not wear a tie bar with a vest or cardigan.
- Choose a sliding tie clasp (versus a pinch clip) for ties made of lightweight fabric. Pinch clips can cause puckering, so reserve them for use with heavier ties.
- The length of the tie bar should be shorter than the width of the tie. Choose a bar that is three quarters as wide as the tie (different sized bars are required for skinny and wide ties).
- Place bar horizontally across tie; do not angle it.
- Clip both sections of the tie to your shirt placket (double fabric layer where button holes are).
- Place the bar between the fourth and fifth button down on your dress shirt. If the bar is covered by your suit jacket in this position, raise it up one button.
- Avoid wearing tie pins, chains or collar bars as the conventional thinking seems to be that they are no longer in vogue.
There you have it – problem solved! A simple tie bar can save you countless trips to the cleaners and shield you from blistering critical fashion commentary (if that’s something you actually worry about). Just clip one on today and take control of that dangling, lopsided, untidy stain magnet hanging around your neck – the one that’s otherwise known as a tie.