There are few arguments in the fashion world that can bring up more hurtful language than a question concerning how, when, or if to wear a tie bar/clip. With so many options, what’s a fashion-conscious young man to do? Ask a librarian, of course. I recently received a question on Meebo from a person who wanted to know if he should wear his grandfather’s tie bar even though the bar did not fit across the entire tie. After viewing several different pictures I discovered that, like many other questions in fashion, there is no universal answer. Here are a few of the suggestions that I was able to find.
First, the fashion writer for Belisi.com offers this confusing answer: “A tie bar must be worn entirely across the tie, from one end to the other. However this is not strictly so, and a tie bar may have its end flushed with the edge of the tie, and the extent to which it happens largely depends on the width of the tie and the length of the tie bar.” Does this make any sense to you? Me neither.
Secondly, our good friends at Mensflair.com recommend this rule of thumb: “To have your tie clip look balanced, it should measure 3/4ths the width of your tie. When placing your tie clip, try to place it just above your top jacket button so that it can be seen, but so it doesn’t look overly close to the knot of the tie.” This suggestion seems to be followed closely, for the most part. From the pictures I’ve seen, it would be appropriate to wear the clip even if it did not cross the entire tie. It does seem, though, that the bar should cover at least half of the tie, if not more.
The Esquire’s Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men’s Fashions explains that the fashionable tis of the 1950-60s were “extremely narrow, and tie bars became shorter as a result.” Keeping in mind that our friend’s grandfather probably purchased his tie clip during this era, we can say that it was made specifically for the narrow tie of the time. Perhaps our patron could find a narrower tie—-a vintage tie, perhaps?—-that accommodates the smaller tie clip. And while we librarians are not exactly known for our sartorial wisdom, if you want to wear that tie clip, do it!
Schoeffler, O.E. and William Gale. Esquire’s Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men’s Fashions. New York: McGraw Hill, Inc., 1973. p. 265.