As with many things apparel, while there are well observed practices (and rightly so), strictly speaking there are no longer hard and fast rules on when to wear a particular style of tie.
Whether by season or occasion, often what feels right on the day is enough. Invariably you're other items of wear will lead to the selected tie, so if you've given due consideration to these you shouldn't really miss.
Observed practices, or more specifically – guidelines - are still best though, to ensure you're on form; and as guidelines, you can allow yourself a bit of manoeuvre based on how you feel on any given occasion.
Guidelines for ties follow pretty much that of other apparel. Seasonally speaking, at it's most basic you'll go with wool for the winter and linen for the summer. Silk ties can be worn all year round; a woven silk might feel more comfortable in the winter as it's a little weightier, and a printed silk in the summer due to it being lighter, but this is by no means exclusive and much more just about preference.
Winter you'll probably be inclined towards more muted or earthy colours, and summer a little brighter, or even a lot brighter; but again here, it's about personal preference and also what feels right on the day.
For work wear, designs tend to be on the more conservative, for parties a little more personality, for dapper wear.. a little more pushing of the bar!
Collections for ties across the year work in the same way as all your other apparel; that is an Autumn Winter collection and a Spring Summer collection. You of course have classic styles and also styles that are interchangeable between seasons, but by and large, collections are in their seasonal place as they are designed with that season in mind, be it the fabric composition, the weight of fabric, the design, or the colours in the design.
When it comes to summer, so many chaps these days see it as a signal to lose the tie, as if it's somehow cool; but seriously, could you be more cool than when donning a summery piece of neck wear to set off your outfit, while still handling the heat! If it gets a bit stuffy just move a little slower.. hence, you become.. super cool.
Genuinely, at a recent hot and sunny wedding this writer observed the tie wearers versus the non tie wearers, and it wasn't just that the tie wearers nailed their outfit better just by going the extra mile, it's also that their whole outfit was better turned out. In short, not only did they know how to better dress for an occasion, but they also knew how to dress better full stop.
So with guidelines in mind we've come up with some summery thoughts on ties that work well across the spectrum of tie wearing opportunities. Hopefully this can offer you some guidance if you're looking for a little direction, and equally, if you might be so inclined to go without a tie can even change your mind just a little!
We've broken out a couple of looks for each of the following scenarios: ties for business, ties for an occasion - say a wedding or dressy summer party, and ties for simply for getting your dapper on!
You can never go wrong with a stripe; it’s always smart and always classic.
With a summer blue suit and white collar shirt it would be difficult to get wrong, even if you wanted to add a little splash of other colour to the mix.
For our stripe look we’ve played it neat and understated, going for a simple complement to the colours of the outfit. This shows how playing it cool can still deliver a big style impact.
We’ve added a small touch of teal with the scrunch of the pocket-square that serves only to set the look off with a little personality. Showing that even with toned down formality you can still add a little something extra while remaining conservative.
Keeping the elements of the suit and shirt the same, here we show how you can transform the look by adding a little more colour, while remaining business appropriate.
There’s a little more summer in this look and we think it’s a really strong display of how wearing a tie in the summer can look so much more stylish than going without. Really, how could an open collar shirt compare with this?
The pocket square again complements everything else in the outfit while bringing a little personality to the mix without over dressing for the occasion.
Summer Party and Occasions.. 1
You simply can’t beat a summer party, wedding, or special occasion for getting dressed up and splashing a serious amount of summer style. If the women can do it, why can't the men?
The obvious thing here, when summer events are by their very nature outside and in the summer sun, you need to ensure the other elements of your outfit allow for keeping cool. So your jacket wants to be light and airy, meaning lighter hues and lighter fabrics; think linen. light cottons, seersucker. And your shirt, definitely a light cotton or smart linen.
All this means you can stay as cool as possible while sporting your neckwear.
And for your neckwear a silk -print is always a spot on option for a summer tie.
Here, with the seersucker jacket, the tie works well in contrast to the stripes with a strong summer colour and print design. The same is true of the pocket square, which offers a complement to the rest of the outfit, while at the same time bringing all the elements together.
Summer Party and Occasions.. 2
Keeping with the seersucker and white shirt to display another option.
Again we’ve gone for a silk print, with a similarly colourful pattern, while at the same time opting for a muted base colour, to show how you can tone down the colour a little while still being on summer form.
Instead of the scrunch of a silk pocket-square we’ve opted for a linen hank folded for a neat peak out of the pocket.
Note that the fold of the square is kept deliberately simple and relaxed. While we're all about guidelines, over-worked or over-stylised squares in the pocket are one of those things we would say the hard and fast rule is - just don't do it!
Dapper Dressing with some Pop!
These could easily fall into summer occasion wear, depending on how much you want to put yourself out there. Otherwise these are ideas for days out or events where you can let yourself go just a little more! That is hitting a more dapper note.
The jacket here is quite deconstructed, light wearing and with patch pockets, and the light check pattern pushes the look away from playing it safe. So it’s with that sentiment that we’ve gone out pretty bold with this first look.
The tie takes dots to the next level, with a bold design and strong colours. Some ties will sit within a jacket or set off a jacket, this tie kind of does both while at the same time leaping out and making its presence undoubtedly known!
The hank picks up some of the tie colour alongside the shapes of a design in the scrunch and the wider ivory palette. With a lot already going on in the outfit this was one occasion where the hank was better off delivering a gentler pop!
Dapperly Dressing with some Mellow Yellow!
Again we’ve kept the jacket and shirt the same, and while remaining dressy we've toned down this look a little to the previous one.
The colours between the jacket, tie, and hank each complement while at the same time giving off a little individual pop and personality, which in many ways sums up the sentiment of dapper dressing.
While being yellow, not necessarily the easiest colour for a chap to wear, the tie is pretty mellow so doesn't overstate itself, with the teardrop and small florets bringing a break in colour and adding some design to the mix, all this without clashing with the jacket.
The hank would have delivered too big a pop and contrast had we scrunched it in the pocket, so opting for a relaxed fold meant it could peak out and add just a bit of colour to mix, with the olive-brown border bringing balance to the overall look and feel.
As with all things apparel, it's a personal thing. What matters most is you feel happy and comfortable yourself. This alone translates into looking as good as you can and is probably the best guideline of them all.
Equally, in the same way as women have through the ages asked if their 'bum looks big in this..?', it's never a bad idea to ask any woman in your life if you've nailed your outfit that day, and very likely their's will be the voice of reason and final say in the matter.. as always.