Ask The Experts

Frequently Asked Questions About Shirts and Ties

Can I wear a striped tie with a striped shirt?

Sure. Remember the rule of scale, however. If your shirt has a wide track stripe go with a narrow stripe tie, or vise versa. Play our coordination game to see how this works in practice. Remember: trust your judgment. If it looks goods to you, it will probably look good to others.

Do I have to wear a black tie to a funeral?

Let’s put it this way: you have to wear a tie to a funeral. More and more these days people are going casual to these very solemn occasions. Remember that dressing up is a sign of respect for others, so a jacket and tie are de rigueur. If you are a member of the immediate family, a black tie is appropriate. If not, just select a conservative pattern in subdued colors.

Can I dry clean a necktie?

Yes, but check with the cleaner that they have the necessary forms for pressing ties. If they don’t, they will probably press the tie flat destroying the beautiful soft rolled edges that give the tie life and dimension. There are mail order firms on the internet that specialize in cleaning ties as well.

Can I wear a tie with a button-down collar shirt?

Absolutely. You can wear a tie with any kind of shirt. A button-down shirt with a tie is a great look with a sport jacket, blazer or sweater. You can tie the tie a bit low for completing the look with a casual shirt.  It is more fashionable if you check that the tie isn’t too broad so that it fills your trunk area. while tying low, also take care that the tie is in the exact middle position and the long threads do not steal the look. It is also great with a more casual suit like a flannel or tweed. If you are going with a more fitted, dressy suit, you might want to stick with a spread or straight collar.

Can I wear one of the new narrow ties with my existing wardrobe of shirts and ties?

Probably, but remember the rule of scale we mentioned earlier. You are the architect of your wardrobe. If your suit lapels are wide and your shirt collars are long or wide, a narrow tie would strike a jarring note, throwing the whole construction out of balance. And balance is what architects and wardrobe designers seek to achieve. Until you can stock up on some of the newer shirts and suits with narrower lapels and collars, work the narrow ties into your casual wardrobe with a button-down shirt and sweater or jacket.

Should I wear French cuffs with a sport jacket?

Sure. With a blue or black blazer, even if you are wearing jeans, cuff links are a great accessory. The problem is, however, if you are wearing tweed or flannel French cuff shirt might be too dressy.

What is the one “must have” item in a man’s wardrobe?

Well aside from a pair of pants, we would say the blue blazer. In fact, if you only own one item of tailored clothing, it should be a blue blazer in an all season fabrication. You can dress it up or down, wear it to a business meeting, or a walk in the park. Another must have is a white dress shirt for all the same reasons.

Do Women Really Care About The Way a Man Dresses?

Whether you are going out on the bar scene, meeting that EHarmony heartthrob for the first time, or taking your lady for a night on the town, women notice what you wear, how you dress and judge you accordingly.

Don’t take our word for it. We asked two women who also happen to be experts on men’s fashion to give you some advice on how to make sure your clothes don’t kill the deal as soon as you walk in the door.

Karen Alberg is editor-in-chief of MR Magazine. Robin Walker is a fashion consultant with a website, Believe us, these ladies notice.

1. Good grooming is all-important: clean hair, clean nails, clean teeth. Clean is sexy. Your goal is to look touchable, likeable and squeaky clean. A great smile is your most valuable accessory.

2. Show some Effort. Dress like you’re going on a date and spend some time picking out your clothes. You can even mention that you dressed up for her, she’ll love it.

3. Never wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. Regardless of the trend of the season, it won’t work for you if it feels contrived.

4. When in doubt, a sport coat will take you anywhere. Either solid navy, gray or black or else a subtle plaid or pinstripe, a sport coat adds authority to jeans and khakis, and often scores as strongly as a suit. Just make sure it fits (and never button the bottom button!)

5. Soft faded jeans and a white oxford shirt. With or without a necktie, this is a simple sexy look that always gets the girl. (To seal the deal, wear a cool belt!)

6. Interesting socks. Not silly socks with pin-up girls necessarily but something with a little color, a little pattern, a little personality. (Interesting socks will make you seem interesting, even if you’re not…)

7. Make a Statement. Wear something that sets you apart and something that she’ll notice. A great watch, cool belt buckle or a “cause” wristband are all good choices.

8. Accessorize your Wallet. Carry a thin leather wallet and for BONUS POINTS carry a picture of your dog and let the picture slip out when you go to play the bill. Everyone loves a dog lover!

9. Great shoes. Unfortunately, you usually get what your pay for in footwear so you might have to spend a little money here. And while most conservative guys go for black leather, brown looks great with neutral-color pants and even denim. Read our lips: No athletic shoes unless you have a tennis date.

10. A good watch speaks volumes. If you can’t afford a classic Rolex or Patek, check out the re-sale shops. Vintage is in.

11. A beautiful tie that picks up the color of your eyes. Women like neckties. A great looking tie is a great ice breaker and will always draw a compliment.

12. A cashmere scarf, also in the color of your eyes.

13. A slim-cut suit. We said slim, not tight. And make it the best you can afford. You won’t be sorry, we promise.

If you have additional questions – and I assume there would be plenty, please feel free to e-mail me and we will publish the answer.