Tied up in knots: What to do with a short tie

Tied up in knots: What to do with a short tie

Q. I have a fine tie that I like very much but that is too short. Even if I tie a four-in-hand knot, it barely makes it to my belt, and I gather that I am not supposed to use that knot anymore. Any solutions?

A. Yes, there is one solution that is totally successful: You can have the tie lengthened, if you prefer to use a knot that takes a lot of the length out of the tie. I should point out that a four-in-hand knot is not at all out-of-style. It is, and has always been, the knot worn by conservative dressers, preppies, and academics (say, your favorite professor), men who would not dream of using the larger, fashion-forward Windsor knots. That said, you are wise to recognize that the length of your tie can be adjusted depending upon the knot you choose, with the narrow, somewhat askew four-in-hand knot using less tie and allowing for more length than either the symmetrical, triangular half-Windsor or the out-of-style full-Windsor. You are also correct that a tie that ends above the belt is unflattering and looks wrong.   

So, how do you lengthen a tie? It involves cutting and extending, but the process is not as simple as that might sound. The tie must be lengthened near the middle, not at either end, so that the added piece is hidden under the collar. Tiecrafters (Tiecrafters.com), a specialty shop in New York City, is my go-to source for this and other tie efforts. They have been in business for decades, cleaning and providing all kinds of professional necktie alterations, from narrowing or widening them when fashions change, to lengthening or shortening them for your precise custom measurements. If, indeed, your tie is the right width for today’s style, and it only needs lengthening, I recommend having it done. The cost for lengthening a tie is $34. (When you consider that you already own this favorite tie and will not have to shop to replace it, the decision is even more attractive.) 

Of course, $34 would be a lot to pay to adjust any of the thousands of unattractive polyester ties in men’s stores that you would not want to own, let alone pay to adjust. But, since you used the words “a fine tie that I like very much,” it makes sense to spend a bit to bring yours back as part of your current wardrobe. In the past, when perfectly acceptable ties were widely available for less than $50, I might have hesitated to suggest making some of the many alterations that are possible. But now that quality all-silk ties may sell for up to $200 and even more, cleaning, repairs, and alterations have become intelligent investments for the man who wears ties.

Finally, allow me to congratulate you for being one of that diminishing number of men who still wisely choose to include neckties as part of their wardrobes. It has always mystified me that so many men, who make every effort to set themselves apart from the crowd by every means possible, choose to ignore this simplest of all methods to do so. When most of the men in a room blend together in their sea of dark suits or blazers and open-at-the-neck shirts, the man wearing a really handsome tie stands out and looks great. Why pass up this opportunity?  Some complain that a tie can be uncomfortable, but that usually means the shirt is too tight, too starched, or the tie is knotted too high. If you have a shirt that is your correct size (not what your size used to be), the fabric is quality and not overly stiff, and the knot is to your neck but not forced, most men find tie-wearing comfortable in anything short of the hottest days. People, and especially women, notice a man with a good-looking tie and are impressed.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions and comments to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

Categories: Male Call