Until recently, men regularly chose to wear a tie clip or a tie bar with their suits. That style has fallen out of favor in the past few decades but is now making a comeback.
These days, tie bars are all the rage, and for a good reason. They are both practical and look stylish at the same time.
So if you’ve been considering joining in on the tie clip trend, now’s the time. Here’s a guide on how to get started.
Tie Clip vs. Tie Bar Basics
A tie clip and a tie bar are essentially (though not completely) the same thing. This is because they both serve the same function: to keep your tie neat and out of the way.
In fact, when you are sporting either one, only you will know which one you are wearing, a tie clip or a tie bar.
From the front, they look the same. They both are almost always metal and in the shape of a bar. They both clip your tie to your shirt and are quite classy looking.
Tie Bar & Tie Clip Differences
Although tie bars and tie clips serve the same purpose, they each hold onto the fabric in different ways. Both are effective, but you’ll need to choose which one is more suitable for your needs.
Tie bars are best for ties that are made of delicate fabrics, like silk. It is a gentle way of fastening your tie to your shirt, so it’s unlikely to cause any damage to the fragile material of your tie.
On the other hand, tie clips are best for thicker and harder tie materials, like felt. The tie clip has teeth that may harm a less sturdy tie material.
Tie Bar & Tie Clip Styles
A tie bar is open on one end and has a slide clasp. It essentially functions as a paper clip on your tie and shirt.
You simply slide your tie and shirt placket in between the two pieces of your tie bar, where the bar keeps them pressed tightly together.
A tie clip, however, has a hinge on one end, forming a pinch clasp. You pinch the hinged part together so that the other end opens up, allowing you to insert your tie and shirt.
The tie clip has little teeth to prevent the accessory from sliding down.
Designs & Shapes
Usually, tie bars are pretty simple. They are not much more than a metallic bar shape. However, they can be etched or have a small gem embedded on one end for a fancier look.
But they don’t all have to be that simple looking.
Tie clips can get a little (or a lot) funky. They aren’t always just a small rectangle on your tie; they can be an abstract design shape or some specific representation.
You can find anchors, tennis racquets, even mustache tie bars! But while some tie bars can be outrageous fun, it’s important to remember they may not be appropriate all the time.
So keep your setting in mind when you choose your tie clip. For example, a funeral or a job interview may not be the best time to show off your flamingo tie bar.
Different Tie Bar Colors
Tie bars were originally only silver or gold. There weren’t many options, so you chose one metal that would match all your other accessories. That was the extent of it.
These days, though, you can get any color you would like to match your outfit.
Tie clips with a painted enamel finish make that possible. However, keep in mind that a colored tie clip won’t be nearly as versatile as a metal one.
Why Wear a Tie Clip
If you are wondering if you should wear a tie clip, the better question would be, why wouldn’t you wear a tie clip?
There are many good reasons to keep a tie clip as part of your everyday wardrobe.
First, they are incredibly functional. Tie bars keep your tie clean; you’ll never drag your tie through your lunch again. Who needs that embarrassment?
If you work around machinery at all, such as a paper shredder, a tie bar will also keep you safe. It will hold your tie out of harm’s way so you don’t get it caught in the machine.
There are also aesthetic reasons you should wear a tie clip. For one, it keeps your tie straight – no more crooked tie syndrome.
But mostly, it just looks sophisticated. You can show off your impeccable taste and a bit of your personality at the same time. It sounds like a win, win to me.
Proper Tie Clip Size
Your tie bar needs to be a specific size in relation to your tie. If it’s too large or too small, it will ruin the elegant effect.
Make sure your tie bar is roughly half to three-fourths as long as the width of your tie. It should never be as wide as, or wider than, your tie.
Not all ties are the same size; they come in different widths. This calls for varying tie clip lengths.
For example, skinny ties require much shorter tie bars that would never work on a full-sized tie.
How to Place a Tie Clip & Tie Bar Properly
It’s understandable if you feel intimidated the first time you go to put on a tie bar.
Take a deep breath and relax; it’s easy. It only takes three steps to don your stylish tie clip effortlessly.
First, you determine the placement of the tie bar. Then you properly gather your fabrics; finally, add your finishing touches.
When your tie bar is correctly situated, you’ll look like the professional you are.
So, choose the right tie clip for you, and let’s get started.
Where to Place the Tie Bar
Your tie bar should always be located between the third and fourth buttons down on your dress shirt. These generally fall around the bottom or middle of your sternum.
Proper placement of your tie clip is vital for reasons other than looks.
For example, if it’s placed too low down, the top of your tie will awkwardly loop out. Furthermore, your jacket would hide your tie bar. What a waste!
If you locate your tie clip too high, it’s essentially useless. Your tie would still be on the loose, swinging around in your way.
Ensure the Shirt is Clipped to the Tie
After you’ve selected the correct spot to place your tie bar, grip both the front and back of the tie, along with your shirt placket.
As you’re holding all three layers firmly together, slide your tie bar or pinch your tie clip onto the fabric layers.
Don’t forget to ensure that all three layers are smoothed flat.
If one of them isn’t pulled taught, it will mess up the other layers, too. Then, double and triple, check that your shirt is included in the tie clip.
Since the entire point of a tie bar is to attach your tie to your shirt, it would be a waste if you forgot that part!
Adjusting the Tie
Once all three layers are secured together, very gently pull up on the tie above the tie bar.
This trick makes the fabric less constricted and helps free up your movement. Otherwise, if the tie is pulled too tightly down into your tie clip, you will feel like your neck is tied to your sternum!
The loosening of the fabric also looks better than having it pulled taught. It gives your appearance more depth.
How to Wear a Tie Clip with a Dress Shirt
Wearing a dress shirt with suit pants or a pair of dress trousers is a fairly casual style. However, certain accessories can help make your outfit feel a level dressier.
If you are skipping the suit jacket, a tie clip helps your dress shirt retain an air of professionalism.
This small piece of well-placed metal makes your outfit feel a touch dressier. It sets you apart from all the other plain dress shirts.
Silver is the best tie clip color choice, mainly because it matches nearly every other color combination.
Whether your dress shirt is light or dark, silver is a nice complement to it. It is also the most conservative choice available.
How to Wear a Tie Clip with a Suit
Correct placement of your tie clip is especially important when you are wearing a suit jacket.
The tie clip needs to be visible when you button your jacket. This is easy to test in the mirror before you head out for the day.
Use your tie as a guide to help you determine what your tie bar should look like.
For example, if your tie has a sheen to its finish, such as silk or satin, you should choose a brushed tie bar. This contrast is subtle but striking.
On the other hand, if your tie is matte, perhaps a material like cotton or wool, go for a glossy tie bar. It will stand out and make people notice it.
You wouldn’t want to to a tie that’s a little shiny, like satin, with a glossy tie bar.
It would look too slick and feel cheap. It’s the contrast of these feelings that make a winning combination.
Matching the Tie Bar Color to Your Suit & Shirt
Most of the time, your choice for tie bars will be between silver and gold. However, the ideal option will be whichever metal matches the rest of the metal in your outfit.
This includes, for example, your belt buckle, cufflinks, and especially your watch.
It’s also crucial for the metals to match the tie bar, like your suit jacket and shirt buttons.
Don’t forget that matching your tie bar to the situation is also imperative.
There are certain situations when a novelty tie bar is acceptable, but you must absolutely be sure it’s appropriate. If you need to be professional or somber, save the fun tie bar for another time.
Things to Avoid When Wearing a Tie Clip
Never wear a vest or a cardigan when you are wearing a tie clip.
The point of a tie clip is to secure your tie to your body, which a vest would also accomplish. Therefore, wearing both together would seem redundant. Don’t overdo the style.
Avoid wearing a tie bar that’s the incorrect size. Any tie bar that’s too long or too short is, quite simply, the wrong size.
Remember, your tie bar must reach halfway and three-quarters of the way across your tie. If this isn’t the case, it’s better to leave the tie bar off.
Take care that you don’t wear a mismatched tie clip. The color and the finish need to complement the rest of your outfit appropriately.
For example, if you wear a dress shirt with stripes, don’t wear a tie clip with stripes. This would probably look like an optical illusion.
Be mindful that when you put on your tie bar that it’s in the correct place. And, just as importantly, the tie bar needs to be straight.
If it’s not entirely horizontal, you’ll look off-kilter all day. So take an extra moment to ensure your tie bar is level.
And finally, don’t wear a tie clip that hasn’t been well cared for. If your tie clip is tarnished and has scratches, perhaps it’s best to retire it.
You wouldn’t wear clothing that makes you look shabby; this should extend to your accessories, too.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.