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How Wide Should Your Tie Be?

In a post COVID world many style blogs have practically finished writing the obituary for the tie. Many offices have chosen to forgo the age old staple of men’s formal fashion. On the other hand, a sizable contingent of our clients still wear them regularly enough to maintain a collection, and they often ask, “How wide should your tie be?”

Tie Width – “Tied” To The Lapel

First, let’s talk numbers. We measure tie width at its widest point, and we can break tie widths into four subcategories (note that these are not industry-standard terms, but rather ones we use for ease of understanding):

  • Skinny: 1″ – 2 “
  • Slim: 2 1/4″ – 3″
  • Regular: 3 1/4″ – 3 3/8″
  • Wide: 3 1/2″ and wider


man in regular width tie
A more or less standard width tie.

The long-standing, permanently correct rule for tie width is simple: it should be more or less the same width as your jacket lapel. We’ll explain this in more detail below. If you’re not wearing a jacket, your tie’s width should be more or less in sync with your body’s proportions. There’s lots of room for interpretation here.

Thinner men can wear slimmer ties, which will help them avoid looking scrawny or gaunt. They should avoid wide ties, which will just swallow them up. The reverse is true for larger men, who will look proportional in a wider tie, but will look even larger in a slim tie.

Tie Width, Trends, & The Argument For Classic Tie Width

Like details on most articles of clothing, tie width gets blown around by the winds of fashion every decade or so. When mod suits were all the rage in the 1960’s, skinny ties were the thing to pair with those narrow-lapel jackets. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction ten years later – the 1970’s gave us extremely wide lapels on jackets, and ties were nearly bib-width to match.

Men who, in our opinion, rightly concern themselves with dressing stylishly and not fashionably, will opt for a happy medium. This is derived from the classic width of a notch lapel – about 3 1/4″ to 3 3/8″. This width more or less bisects the distance from the fold of the lapel to the shoulder seam. In other words, it’s a logical placement based on visual symmetry.

middle aged man in skinny tie
This tie is too narrow for this man’s proportions.

Our preferred tie width range is 3″ at narrowest to 3 1/2″ at widest. A 3″ tie is narrow enough to accommodate a small man without looking trendy, and a 3 1/2″ tie is wide enough to accommodate a large man without looking like he time-travelled from 1974.

Custom Ties & Final Thoughts

man wearing tie thats too wide
This tie is too wide for this man’s frame.

We’re proud to be one of the only clothiers in the Philadelphia and New York City areas to offer completely custom ties. Crafted in New York City and based on your preferred knot, width, and physical measurements, there’s simply no better option. If you are interested in how to choose the correct color of tie for your outfit explore more in our Fundamentals Of Color blog entry. This is especially true for particularly tall or short men, where off-the-rack tie length is often an issue. Reach out at 215-310-0219 or email us at info@henrydavidsen.com to learn more.

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