The Five Ties Every Guy Should Own

Two cross-country moves in a single year resulted in the loss of our correspondent’s entire tie collection. It turns out the fresh start was just what he needed to break free from all the five-inch-wide hand-me-downs. Here he shows us how to build the perfect pared down tie collection.

Inevitably, it’s the first thing someone will notice. The compliment is delivered verbally or with a simple nod of the head. Nice tie. And the thing is, it is a nice tie, because it’s not a novelty item with prancing Santa Clauses or written words on it. It’s not too wide. It’s not too thin. It’s the simple piece of clothing that ties (ahem) the rest of the outfit together.

Recently, I've put a lot of thought into the basic stable of ties you need for every type of outfit. After moving three times in the past year, I somehow lost every tie I owned. Finding myself tie-less was, in a way, a relief. I was forced to start fresh. And with a limited budget, I was able to put together the essential tie starter kit. Here are the five ties every man needs in his closet.

The Silk Repp Stripe Tie

Whether it’s blue and gold, blue and grey, or blue and red, the classic lines of this silk tie—which originated in England in the 1800s—works equally well for weddings or a job interview. Keep it trim (just under three inches at its widest point) and you won’t overstate the prep factor. ($60; jcrew.com).

The Slim Black Tie

Almost two decades after Travolta and Samuel L. brought it back to the mainstream, the slim black tie still endures (see Girls‘ star Alex Karpovsky at the Emmys recently). It’s still the perfect tie to pair with any dark, modern-cut suit ($40; express.com).

The Silk or Wool Square-Bottom Knit Tie

The square-bottom knit was the relaxed-yet-classy look for iconic figures like Paul Newman to The Beatles. Updated by The Knottery with a splash of color on the tip, the square-bottom knit pairs just as well with chambray denim as pressed cotton ($30; birchbox.com).

The Grey Flannel Tie

With winter coming, you’ll want a thicker tie to complement heavier plaid and flannel shirts and substantial knit sweaters. It’s the ultimate way to bring out a bit of your inner grizzly man at the office ($125; johnvarvatos.com).

The Plaid Tie

Everyone needs a that rakish change-of-pace tie in their wardrobe, and there’s no change-up quite like a simple plaid tie with jeans or cords. Keep the colors simple—nothing garish—and, yes, slim. This is the tie to flip over your shoulder during the Thanksgiving family touch football game. ($15; thetiebar.com).

Dacus Thompson

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