Have you ever looked at someone and you just thought to yourself:
“Their head looks small on their body”
“This person has a really big forehead”
“That man is awkwardly wide looking”
In thinking these thoughts, you may have noticed that these things stood out to you because of a simple concept called proportionality. It all affects our appearance. When the things we wear work together in a more proportional way, we look cleaner and more presentable. Looking cleaner and more presentable means that people will naturally trust you more.
When you are choosing a suit, you should factor in how your chest size, shoulder size, shirt collar, face shape, lapel width...etc should be proportional with each other. But too bad no one has time for that! Luckily for you, there are 3 items that when are adjusted, can certainly boost your image. These items are the shirt collar, the lapel, and the tie. As a rule of thumb, if you want to look balanced, your overall goal should be to match these three things.
- The width of the widest part of the tie.
- The width of the shirt collar
- The width of the widest part of the lapel.
However, it’s not always possible to match all three pieces together but it’s certainly a lot easier to match two of them.
Rule of thumb # 1 : Match the shirt collar width and the tie width
When you are balancing the proportions of your outfit, you can match the largest width of your tie with the width of your collar.
In these two photos, you can see that Keith Olbermann on the right has kept his tie width close to the width of his shirt collar width and looks much more presentable. On the left, it is quite noticeable that his proportions are wrong.
Rule of thumb # 2: Match the tie width and the lapel width
The widest point of your tie should be the same width as the widest point of the lapel on your jacket.
In this diagram, the gentleman’s proportions are almost proportional everywhere and you can see how stunningly presentable his outfit looks on him.
Make this useful for knit ties
Knit ties can add character to your suit ensemble if you use it correctly. They are usually difficult to work into your wardrobe since most of them are too skinny. However, with the use of these rules of thumbs, you can see that with a little bit of knowledge and attention to detail, you can make it work. The photo below shows that.
Don’t take it too far though
Remember, the world is great when things are used in moderation. If your lapel is ridiculously wide, it wouldn’t be wise to try to find a tie to match its width. The proportions don’t need to be exactly the same either. You can get away with 0.25” of deviance.