How To Wear Skinny Ties, For Femmes and Bois and Everyone In Between

“Why do I gotta be such a babe-magnet? Probs the tie.”

I have a new obsession and that obsession is skinny ties. Here’s the most important thing you need to know about skinny ties: You should be wearing one. I’m even wearing one right now, I kid you not. I like them on anyone — girly, boi-ish, andro, Shane, Don Draper — anyone. Especially Don Draper. Don’t know if you can pull them off? You can pull it off. Think you have too many curves for a skinny tie? You’re wrong. Let me hold your hand as together we waltz through the land of being super fucking dapper.

First things first, do you own a tie? You can make your own skinny tie out of a regular tie if you’re crafty. Second, do you know how to tie a tie? It is so easy. It just takes some practice.

This is the easiest procedure. It’s called a Four In Hand and it looks good with everything.
via {World’s Easiest Necktie Knot.}

Now that we’ve got that down, let’s see what to pair our ties with.

Blazers

I cannot stress to you enough how amazing skinny ties look with blazers and sport jackets and suits. You already own a blazer, I hope, as per Lizz’s request, and if you don’t, please go buy one so you can wear it with your skinny tie. I recommend a black blazer because it will go with any kind of tie ever, even navy, because I don’t believe in clashing colors. (Yeah, I said it, what about it). Go messy or go fancy with your blazer and skinny tie as long as you’re going.

Vests

Vests are a good casual yet dressy kind of look if you’re not feeling the blazer. Make sure it’s a dark vest, maybe even a pinstriped one if you’re feeling super fancy. Vests can tone down the craziness of a shirt pattern (or tie pattern, if you need) and make you look really put together. I’m a fan of buttoned vests as well as open vests.

If you’re wearing a denim vest with your tie just take it off right now and go sit in the corner to think about what you’ve done wrong with your life.

A classic button-up

The simplest look to get right. All you need is a shirt you probably already own. Can I fully recommend not matching your tie to your button-up? Can you guys not make that a thing? Wearing a tie with your button-up seriously looks best with rolled up sleeves and a slightly disheveled collar/tie combo. You’re trying hard, but not too hard, you know? I love it when femmes wear this look in particular, but really I just love it on everyone.

Sweaters

This is a hard one to pull off. Maybe I should put a label on this one, like advanced tie wearing queers only, proceed with caution. The thing is, it’s really easy to delve right into Harry Potter/Warblers/school uniform territory with a sweater. It is such a good look when you pull it off, though. I’d recommend your tie be darker than your sweater and your collared shirt. This combo is also amazing under a blazer (and very warm).

Sometimes I find that the buttons on my shirt look pretty weird under a sweater, especially around the boob-region. Make sure your tie is straight and it’ll cover up those buttons for you. If you’re just super annoyed by buttons, take a deep breath and try men’s shirts because they sit better under the fabric of the sweater or wear a thicker sweater.

Now, before I let you go off on your own and start wearing some pretty hot skinny ties, let’s quickly cover some extra cardinal rules of tie-wearing. I consulted one of the most dapper queers among us, Fonseca, on the must-knows. We don’t want you to look silly, do we? No. Okay.

1. “The bottom tip of any tie should barely touch the top of one’s belt. None of that ‘isn’t this cute I got it from the boy’s department and it barely touches my navel’ stuff.” – Fonseca

2. If you are rocking a tie with a white shirt, be careful not to look like a Mormon missionary. Perhaps it is best to ask an honest person before you leave the house, “Does this make me look like I’m trying to spread the gospel or look super cute?” Be careful of the pants selection in this case. That said, rocking a dark solid color tie with a light-colored shirt almost always looks good.

3. “If you’re wearing a tie, you’d best be wearing a belt.” – Fonseca

4. I like to leave my shirt open on the very top button. Maybe this is my severe anxiety disorder revolving around choking talking, but it’s just too tight. Also, I think you look a little bit like a five-year-old in Sunday School with it all done up, but maybe that is the look you are going for! You do you. Let me know how this works out.

5. NEVER wear your tie with a tank top or t-shirt or any shirt that does not have a collar and therefore does not support tie-wearing. You are not Avril Lavigne circa 2000.

Case and point.

See how dapper and dandy and wonderful you look in that skinny tie? It’s okay to check yourself out in the mirror a little longer, I won’t tell anyone.

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Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 186 articles for us.

57 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    I love this! The only thing that would make it better would be some suggestions on where to get said skinny ties. I’ve shopped around to no avail and probably need to consult the internets on this one. Also, thanks for pointing out what NOT to do with a tie RE: Avril Lavigne!

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    As someone who’ve worked in fashion and with models for years, I have have one comment about vests: be careful how you make up your outfit, else you’ll just end up looking like a waiter/waitress/bartender. Blazers and sweaters work best, make sure the knot not too loose, one small dimple in the middle under the knot (http://i.imgur.com/dxIoY.jpg – yes, it’s possible with skinnies)

    Also good to know: guide to different knots for different shirt collars:
    http://www.execshirts.com/shirtspedia/dress-shirt-collars.htm

  3. Thumb up 5

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    I’m a femme who secretly dreams of being Skye Masterson from Guys and Dolls and ocassionally Rod Serling, so I *love* skinny ties. Especially my fake leather one (yeah, I’m that girl.) Also I can have my makeup, cute boots, and hair curled and still get the lesbian nod when I’m wearing a collard shirt and loose tie (especially when I’m feeling cuff bracelets) so to me ties are the ultimate queer lady accessory.

    You rock for writing this.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    SARAH, what about when you’re my girlfriend and you have huge boobs? Is she stuck with bow ties or what here? (Though she wore one to my birthday party and it was AWESOME). Hellllppppp. Betsy always needs to be in a tie. Swoon.

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      I support ties + boobies. I really don’t think anything would look wrong about it. What is she worried about? Let’s troubleshoot.

      Betsy could definitely rock the ties, and she should (but I really do love bow ties, as well, and they need to make a bigger comeback).

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        hmmm; speaking as a femme with fairly large ta-tas who had to wear a tie every single miserable day of high school, I’m sorry, but I don’t think my body type/gender performance suits this look. I think ties look awkward or pornified (which is great if you’re going for that) on girls like me, rather than hip. and that’s ok! I am happy to appreciate the look on others; and by the way i think well-endowed butches look great in ties. and if you can find a picture to prove me wrong about well-endowed femmes, i will be happy to stand corrected…

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          I’m a femme with 36C boobies and I don’t think that ties and button-ups look bad on me! I like to rock a colored blazer with it. It femmes it up a bit and takes the focus off of the ta-tas.

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          I have no doubt that you look great in ties! I guess the point i’m stubbornly holding on to here is that not everything looks good on everyone, since people’s styles and bodies are so varied; when I shop for clothes with friends, I want them to encourage me to celebrate my curves and be bold about how i look, but I also want them to be honest when something does not suit me. But I shouldn’t have spoken for what other people do or do not look good in, because it’s probably primarily a question of confidence, not body type-and clearly I lack confidence about wearing a tie!

  5. Thumb up 3

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    I currently have a skinny tie in my closet that I never wear because th patterned button ups and tie often clash. Obviously, I need to invest in a more basic tie.

    Also – skinny suspenders. Another confusing accessory. An article on that apparatus would also be helpful.

  6. Thumb up 2

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    Love this article! I have a lot of guys clothes that I wear from time to time. I’ve never been able to figure out how to pull off the ties though, I just needed a thin one! I do rock the button up shirt though, and can I just say that cowboy shirts are killer.

  7. Thumb up 2

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    Don Draper and Shane in the same article? I’m swooning.

    Although I think Jack Donaghy should have made an appearance. See exhibit A: http://bit.ly/QsQwum . I think that’s the ONLY thing that could have made this article more epic.

    “If you are rocking a tie with a white shirt, be careful not to look like a Mormon missionary.” SO. GOSH. DARN. HYSTERICAL.

  8. Thumb up 4

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    I totally busted up in the doctor’s office when I came to the “you don’t want to look like a Mormon missionary”! Having been raised Mormon and being able to spot a missionary from a mile away, that point is so true! I can’t stop chuckling! I hope the doctor doesn’t think i’m going insane if I burst out in spontaneous laughter.

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    The loose tie is rarely rocked well. I am much more into well tied ties. Loose one can look tragically Avril even with a collared shirt. Exception: barely loosened tie with topmost button undone WITH properly rolled sleeves and loose enough shirt.

  10. Thumb up 1

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    But I have boobs! Like bOObs that shirts don’t fit right and vests make me look like I’m trying to be a porn star surely a tie is just going to add to all this focus on them …
    I wish I could pull of the boi look but they just don’t let me, back to my the femme wardrobe!

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      OMG, yes, I was going to post on the boobs issue, too. I have technical difficulties with buttoned shirts. The boobs tend to engage in a sort of war against which the shirt always looses, ending with gaping, and buttons spontaneously opening. I really prefer for my clothing to do an effective job at containing me.

  11. Thumb up 1

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    Love a patterned wool tie, basic tie clip, and if you’re really feelin fly, blazer with a subtle pocket square (though be warned, most women’s blazers are not properly equipped for pocket squares). Unfortunately I own none of these things right now, so I’d appreciate if someone could throw this ensemble together and walk by me…

  12. Thumb up 7

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    Wait, okay, I don’t mean to sound like an ass here, but four-in-hands don’t look good with everything. The four-in-hand is a SUPER casual tie knot, and, because it’s asymmetrical, it looks sloppy when paired with more formal looks.

    I mean, just saying. Half-Windsor Fan forever.

  13. Thumb up 1

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    The best thing Avril did (besides getting engaged to the guy from Nickelback and providing many lols) was make it socially acceptable in my formative years for girls to wear ties everywhere. They were enlightening times.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    Yay!!! Just the right article for me – so many great combination/options, but what about regular ties??
    I’m gonna definitely wear a skinny tie for school tomorrow.
    Thanks Hansen !!

  15. Thumb up 0

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    JC Penney had a bunch of cute shirt/cute skinny tie combo boxes under $20 – slim fitted, even! Be sure to take your measurements first, and it makes it so much easier to find your size!

  16. Thumb up 0

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    I concur with the ladies asking for a second part to this article addressing the issue of SUSPENDERS. Because I would love to wear them, but am kind of hourglass and have narrow, sloping shoulders, and I just can’t see it working well.

  17. Thumb up 2

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    I now base most of my fashion choices on: “Could I wear this with a tie?” It works wonders for most people, but the first time my mom saw me in a tie, she didn’t think it was very feminine. I just smirked and said: “It’s okay; you’re not the target audience for the tie.”

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