Here's what I wore to work today. The shirt is Calvin Klein and the tie is Perry Ellis Portfolio. I used be ambivalent about solid black ties, but they work well with a variety of shirts, including almost anything with dark stripes. I wore nice black dress slacks with it, and felt pretty sharp.
Right now, one of my favorite places to buy ties is from rabbitstop, an Etsy seller. She makes great ties and always has a huge selection (over 500 right now!) They come in three different widths and she can often customize a tie you like for the width you want. All six ties I've ordered from rabbitstop have been awesome quality fabric. They're a little challenging to tie, because they're slightly thicker than store bought ties. But they look great. Below are some samples of rabbitstop's ties.
I lifted these pics from rabbitstop's Etsy site. Rabbitstop, whoever you are, I hope you don't mind... free publicity for you, after all!
My other go-to tie source is discount clothing stores: Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross, and the like. Of course, if you're not on a budget, you can just swing into Macy's or Nordstrom and drop $50-$100 on whatever tie you please. But for me, discount stores are great because they often have last season's brand-name ties for a third of the original price. And as long as the tie looks good on you, who cares if it hit the stores last season? Shop around for long enough and you'll find your go-to brands and can be on the lookout for them. I seem to love Calvin Klein ties, and Kenneth Cole Reaction isn't far behind.
Introduction to Tie-Buying: A few Basic Do's and Don'ts:
DON'T spend a bunch of money until you've figured out your own personal style--and you will! But it takes time to learn what suits you. In the beginning, many of us dress like our fathers, which (may or) may not suit us. Try different colors and combinations. Try knit ties and bow ties and plaid ties and wild ties.
DON'T buy a skinny tie unless you are skinny. I know you want to look like Don Draper--hell, we all do. But if you're a heftier butch, a too-skinny tie will make your head look enormous. My girlfriend looks rad in a skinny tie; I, on the other hand, look like I have just eaten the Pillsbury Doughboy.
DON'T buy a wide tie. Yes, these were en vogue once, and they will be again someday, but now is not their moment. Anything wider than about four inches (at the widest point) is pushing it.
DO take along a stylish buddy or two to help you decide what looks good (and run interference in the event of dressing room confrontations...).
DO learn how to tie a tie. I learned by using these online videos of a hilariously boring British guy. There's also a version made by the Sartorial Butch! She teaches two knots: the four-in-hand and the full Windsor. If you only learn one, go for the four-in-hand; it's easiest and most versatile.
DO choose ties that will match at least two or three different shirts. (Again, if money's not a concern, scratch that.)
DO get the length right. After you finish tying it, the end of the tie should fall precisely at the middle of your belt.
DO keep your shirts in mind. If you have no grey shirts and no orange shirts, a grey-and-orange checked tie is not your best bet. Sometimes I'll take along a particular shirt I'm trying to match. You can even snap a few pictures of the row of shirts hanging in your closet and take them along.
DO try mixing patterns. This can be fun--my favorite is a tie with a large plaid print against a shirt with a small checked pattern. For some starters, check out this link--it's not bad.
I'll write more about ties in the future--they're one of my favorite articles of clothing, after all. But I'm hoping this will get you started. Send me pictures of your tie-buying adventures--I'd love to post them on the blog!