If you ask some guys, the words “casual” and “necktie” don’t even belong in the same sentence. After all, what’s so casual about wearing something that screams work and responsibility? However, some occasions call for a more casual and relaxed look that includes a necktie, like casual Friday — or perhaps you just want to kick your style up a notch when you’re not toiling in the office. For that, you’ll need a more casual necktie.
When looking for casual men’s neckwear, there are a few points to consider: Tie width, fabric, and design, meaning the color and pattern.
Professional ties tend to be on the wider side; the average width is about 3.25 inches. Men who have more slender or broad chests can wear ties up to half an inch thinner or wider and still maintain proportions. Casual ties tend, as a rule, to be a smidge thinner, around 3 inches wide or less. A general guideline to remember is the skinnier the tie, the more casual the look.
The fabric the tie is made from also determines whether it is casual or professional. Professional-looking ties tend to be made from silk, silk blends, or synthetics that have a smooth, shiny appearance. Casual men’s neckwear, on the other hand, tend to be more textured; think cotton, linen, or wool in a matte finish that shows the texture of the fabric.
Finally, color and pattern tend to be the most obvious determinant of whether a tie is professional or casual. While professional ties usually need to be conservative or subdued, casual ties feature brighter colors and patterns that are more whimsical. For example, a cotton tie in a pastel-hued madras plaid is perfect for a summer Friday. And plain, solid color ties tend to project a more casual appearance.
When wearing a professional tie, you need to follow certain rules, such as the point of the tie should reach the top of the waistband of your trousers, and the skinny end of the tie should always lie flat behind the wider part.
The same rule about the length of the tie applies when you’re going casual, but wearing the tie looser, and leaving your collar unbuttoned projects a more casual appearance. Avoid wearing casual ties with broad collared shirts (stick to button collars) or sport coats, and choose a casual blazer or even a sweater instead.
There are times in life that call for casual men’s neckwear, so be prepared and have a few options besides your usual work ties. Experiment a little, have some fun, and let your personal style shine through.