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Ties Go The Distance - What is the right length?

When Is a Tie Too Long? Guidelines on finding the right length

By TERI AGINS 

Q: When is a necktie too long? I've seen men in ties that cover their belt, which I was told that longer style was a matter of choice. Ties are no longer required most of the time, but I would still like to know what's the proper length nowadays. —C.N.

A: Neckties are such a second thought to many men nowadays. Start thinking of ties as a fashion option instead of a dress-up obligation and you'll enjoy wearing ties a lot more—even with jeans.
Edit your closet by discarding every tie that's cartoonish, too soiled or just ugly. Now you have a mix of ties that are slightly wide and narrow—all of which remain current, depending on how you wear them.

Wider ties (good with a spread–collar shirt) tend to provide a better balance to classic suits in pinstripes and tweeds, and with double-breasted jackets.

If you're into today's trimmer suit silhouettes, your ties are probably narrow to skinny. The short spread-collar shirts look good with those ties.

As for length, the classic length has the tip of your tie just grazing your belt buckle. Ties can also go about an inch longer to the bottom of your belt buckle—the way many Italians wear them.
European men wear their pants higher at their natural waistline, which also favors the longer ties. As always in fashion, think mainly in proportions and let the mirror be your guide.

Also consider this: Super skinny suits look better with ties that are slightly shorter.

Men over 6 feet 1 inch and guys with bigger bellies look better in ties on the longer side. But all ties start looking too long when they fall below the bottom of the belt line, which throws off the balance of proportion.

When shopping, you should pay attention to length. The so-called standard tie will vary in length from about 55 inches to 59 inches, which should suit most men from 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet 2.
Ultimately, where your tie will fall on your torso will vary from man to man, depending on the size of your neck, the size of your belly and the size knot you use. The fuller Windsor knot will take up more fabric, and your tie will fall shorter.

If your tie falls too long, just take it to the tailor to be chopped off a bit. Or if your tie is hitting your belly button, which is way too short, then you might buy an extra-long tie, which are roughly between 61 inches to 63 inches in length.

Attention gift-givers: It's safe to assume that men over 6 feet 2 inches will require an extra-long tie, which aren't hard to find, based on the many listings I saw online. Retailers selling extra-long ties include Rochester Big & Tall, Nordstrom, Macy's, Men's Wearhouse, J.C. Penney, Kohl's and many others.


—Email questions to askteri@wsj.com

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