I thought I'd lay out some crucial, basic tie-wearing tips I've been asked about. Even if you know nothing else about ties, you need to know this stuff:
Q: Where should my tie end?
A: At the middle of your belt. Most people know not to let it land too far above the belt, but letting it land a couple inches below is just as bad.
Q: But then I have to re-tie my tie about 20 times to get it right.
A: Yeah, at first--eventually you'll get good at it, though. This is the price we pay for looking dapper. Just be glad no one's making you wear high heels.
Q: How wide should my tie be?
A: If the tie is between 2.5 inches and 3 inches at the widest point, you're good. This is a "narrow" tie. A skinny tie is about 2 inches wide at the widest point. I'm not against skinny ties per se, though I think some caution is prudent.
Q: What's the most common butch faux pas you see re: neckties?
A: Okay, admittedly no one actually asked me this, but I feel compelled to share. At fancy events, I often see butches in too-wide ties that land a couple inches below their belts. This makes a butch look like she's raided her father's closet. Please stop.
Q: I never know what knot to wear.
A: A four-in-hand is the easiest to learn, and safe for all except the most formal occasions. If you're going to learn only one knot, this is the one. Have a friend teach you, or watch this British guy, whom I find amusing. And: practice, practice, practice!
Q: What's the deal with the "dimple?" Do I need one?
A: Yup, you do. A "dimple" just means that if your knot doesn't do it naturally, you push in the fabric right below the knot. Here's a picture.
Q: Do I need fancy shoes?
A: Absolutely not. As long as your look is pulled together, there are all kinds of different ways to dress down a tie.
Q: You've suggested wearing a loosened tie. How loose is too loose?
A: I undo the top button of the shirt, then pull gently at either side of the collar. You're going for this or this, not for this.
Q: Is it okay to wear a tie bar? Where do I put it?
A: Sure. Just make sure it's not wider than your tie, and wear it between the third and fourth buttons of your shirt, clipping the whole tie to the shirt.
If you have any more questions about tie-wearing, just let me know. Meanwhile, I'd love it if you'd send me pictures of yourself in a tie. I'll post a bunch of my favorites as fashion examples for BW readers!