Who You Width?

For the longest time I thought that my perfect tie width was 3.25″. I have jackets with 2.75″ lapels from the boom years and 3.5″ from the 90s. A 3.25″ ties seemed to work pretty well with all of them, but I saw a picture of myself this week and began to rethink it all.

Picking out the the right tie width for yourself is not rocket science. Like almost anything in clothing it is all about scale.There are only a few things that you need to consider which are your body’s dimensions, the size of your lapel, and size of your collar, but its easy to forget that it is not all math. I myself had lost sight of this.

Here are the pics that I referenced above. The picture directly below is of me in a 3.25″ tie. It looks a little too wide. The picture below it is of me in a 3″ tie. In the past I would have said that 3″ is just a little to skinny, but looking at the two pictures I would say that 3″ tie looks a little better. Others will of course disagree. That is fine.

The moral of this story is that style cannot be achieved purely by following equations. There is a little bit of art to it and a lot of personal preference. Another important thing to keep in mind is that your opinion will change. That is okay too. Growth is good. Just remember not to throw out all those ties you didn’t think worked at the moment!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

17 Comments on "Who You Width?"

  1. Fabrizio says:

    Hi Jerrod, I actually think both widths suit you very well.
    I am quite tall and found out that my “perfect” tie width is 3.5″, but also that a quarter of an inch is somehow acceptable tolerance, and have kept older, wider ties and some more recent ones, which are narrower. So in the end I think I can pull it off with everything from 3.25″ to 3.75″ – the pattern and how it matches the rest of my outfit is more important to me.

  2. ChildDoc says:

    Jerrod, I would contend that lapel width would dictate appropriate tie width–accepting the premise that lapel width and tie width should coordinate. As it seems reasonable that lapel width should be proportionate to shoulder width (i.e., a broader shouldered person would proportionately have a somewhat broader lapel width and a slender person a somewhat narrow lapel), it seems that shoulder width (frame size) would dictate the optimal lapel width which, in turn, would dictate the corresponding ideal tie width. If one accepted these premises, a person’s lapel width would remain constant and not dictated by fluctuating trends (“fashion”), and correspondingly, ideal tie width for an individual would similarly remain constant across time.

    As a similarly somewhat slender individual, I have concluded that approx. 3″ is my ideal lapel width and therefore tie width (accepting a +/- 0.25″ variance. As I look at your pictures (and perhaps taking a picture of yourself to eyeball proportions isn’t a bad way to go), either 3.25″ or 3.00″ looks good–perhaps with the 3.00 width the “best”. With my “thesis” as above, your tie width would be a constant–not subject to fashion trends and tie width fluctuations. Just my thoughts and others may well have a different approach.

  3. Randy Carson says:

    If you have some 3.25’s that you want to off-load cheap…


  4. Hunter Hartford. says:

    For those who might wonder:

    J.Press neckties are 3.5″ wide
    Brooks Bros. neckties are 3.25″ wide

  5. Lennart says:

    Both look good on you even if I prefer the bottom picture, I would say 3′ is good and I also like the combo blue OCBD and tie with green in it.

  6. Woofboxer says:

    Chipp ties are 3.25. It’s an interesting process this thing of arriving at your preferred norms for clothing, does it ever end I wonder? I hope not!

  7. Tom says:

    I agree, a 3″ lapel width looks much better on you. Its all about proportion.

  8. Randy Carson says:

    After looking at these photos for awhile, my question is this: Is the length of the jacket correct?

    Should you be able to curl your fingers under the bottom a bit?

  9. oxford cloth button down says:

    Randy – The jackets cover my bum. Well, the second one barely does, but it does. That is my measure. I have always heard that the bottom of the jacket should hit your second thumb knuckle. Obviously arm length affects this.

  10. Charlottesville says:

    Both look great, Jerrod. 3″ may be a bit better, but both are fine on you. I recently had some Brooks Brothers ties from the late 90s or early 2000s narrowed from nearly 4″ down to 3″ and am very happy with the result. I also have 3″ BB ties that I bought in the mid 80s that were probably old stock even then. Most of my ties are probably closer to 3.25″. Because my tailored wardrobe is made up of Brooks or Press 3./2 sack coats, with some Polo thrown in, I think that 3″ and 3.25″ are both fine for me, and work fine with lapels up to 3.5″ or so. I still wear some ties that are 3.5″ from Brooks and Press (McConnell’s also seems to carry this width), but that is not my preference. The wearer’s height, weight, collar size and lapel width all should be considered when determining what is right for you. You seem to be striking the right balance in these pictures.

  11. Fred Johnson says:

    Given your size a 3 inch tie width seems fine. You could also wear a slightly smaller collar as long a there was some roll to it.

  12. JoelVau says:

    Speaking of this subject, how wonderful to go back to the width of the JFK / Dick Van Dyke show era. My deceased father had many of those which he wore only on Sundays and each only once or twice a year. Oh to have kept those ties.

  13. George says:

    OCBD, what is your current, go to OCBD shirt? Thanks

  14. Ezra Cornell says:

    Another factor is the tie’s color, which can make the tie look wider. I like the proportion of the green and blue tie. To save money on narrowing old ties, I wear them under a sweater vest.

  15. oxford cloth button down says:

    George – I don’t have one at the moment. Here is a post that I did about that: http://oxfordclothbuttondown.com/2015/12/changing-guard/

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