Wedding Ties 101

April 2, 2009

When I founded The Tie Bar in 2004, I had no idea that I would end up in the wedding industry. But here I am.

We now outfit more weddings in neckties than any other neckwear company in the U.S. We’ve been featured in most of the major wedding magazines and blogs. When it comes to wedding ties, you name the color, and we seem to have it. Or something close to it. Which brings me to the point of this blog entry.

To my dearest brides,

You must take a deep breath and calm down. You have food to taste. Bands to listen to. Religious officials to debate about. Cake to choose. Flowers to pick. And of course, mothers-in-law to argue with.

So why oh why do you put so much stress into ties for your groomsmen? I have never quite figured this one out. So let me give you a very quick guide to outfitting your groom and groomsmen for your wedding. And when you’re done reading this, order your ties and go worry about something more important about your big day.

Your bridesmaids are wearing some bright and colorful dresses that you picked out. And while they may all smile and hug you when they say “I’ll definitely wear this again”, please rest assured that they won’t. Ever.

The groomsmen, however, will wear the ties you get them for the wedding. Why? Because that’s just the way guys are. Do you know how many credit cards I signed up for in college just to get the free t-shirt or 2-liter of Pepsi? We love free stuff. All of us.

But we don’t love ties with ALL your wedding colors mixed into one. So while your wedding colors may have aqua, chocolate, lime, rose and maybe some other color names that only Crayola would have, simply find a tie with one of the colors of your wedding. Preferably, one of the accent colors. This will compliment the bridesmaid dresses and bring your whole wedding party together in color harmony.

But does the one accent color have to match exactly? No.

Why not? Because it will still look great. And indeed, I’ve been keeping track. Of the 10,235,324,338 weddings since 2000, not a single one was ruined because the ties weren’t a perfect match! Can you believe it? All the weddings went just fine – or if they didn’t go well, it had nothing to do with the ties.

But what if the ties arrive and they are turquoise and not aqua? Or they are rust and not tangerine? Or they are olive and not kiwi? Just relax. The photographer won’t be able to pick up the difference. And no one at the wedding will notice (or care) if there is a slight difference. Just find some ties you like – in a color and pattern that goes well with your wedding. And your job will be done.

If you are just rolling your eyes at me right now, that’s fine. Then consider having the groomsmen wear wedding neutral colors (black, silver, white). Now how can you go wrong with that?

Although I already know some of you who will…


Power Ties – Version 2.0

December 23, 2008

So somebody told me that as the owner of the largest brand of neckties on the internet (cough, plug , cough), I should be blogging about topics that we get emailed about from customers most frequently. And after “How much is shipping?”, one of the most common questions we get is “What color tie should I get for my next interview or big meeting?”

So here we go…

For years, good ol’ red (candy apple red) has been the flag-bearer color for power ties. With the backdrop of a suit often being a darker muted color, a bright red tie effectively jumps out off the suit as a strong color and a strong message. No question, red is a power tie.

But it’s almost 2009 now. Red is so….2008. Even 1998. Or 1988. Over the past few fashion seasons, purple (believe it or not) has slowly made its way to the front of the line as the new power color in men’s neckties. And not just for the skinny, hip dude you see walking in the streets of New York.

Wall Street and other corporate executives have gradually found that shades of purple ties (lilac, lavendar, eggplant, violet) do a sensational job of jumping off the neutral palletes of black and charcoal suits. While rich in color, purple does not overly dominate a business suit like other non-traditional colors such as yellow and pink. Instead, it creates a more soothing feeling while still adding some much-needed hue.

With this in mind, we here at The Tie Bar design lots of purple ties, including a healthy selection slated for our first collection of 2009 (in January). And if you’re thinking “Purple ties? Are you nuts?”, then you’re the type of person who needs to go outside of his comfort zone and try one out. Yes, you.

I was recently quoted in the Chicago Tribune (article is here) on a story about President-elect (lord, that’s getting old) Obama’s apparent leaning toward blue ties. When I was interviewed by the reporter, I strongly disagreed with her position and insisted that blue was not a power color at all, but more of a neutral and friendly color. Blue is the tie color you want to wear when you don’t want to get noticed or don’t need to be persuasive.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that those who wear purple shows a level of individuality. And individuality suggests leadership. Those looking to break away from their traditional blue, red and black ties should adopt purple ties into their rotation.

 So quit being such a whimp, and treat yourself to a purple tie from The Tie Bar (come on – $15? You’ll spend more at Starbucks this week – and we don’t give you gas.)

If you don’t get a compliment on the first day you wear your new purple tie, we’ll give you your money back.

But we’ll also encourage you to start hanging out with some more fashionable people.

Customer Ratings on Websites

December 2, 2008

Just got a great call from a potential customer who was quite confused. And I don’t blame him one bit. He got burned by a competitor of ours and was now skeptical about us.

Let me give you a quick background.

Companies like eBay and Amazon – both of which sell items from third-party vendors – have a rating system. You’re likely quite familiar with them. These rating systems give the buyers a chance to review and rate specific items sold on those websites. It’s a great tool for customers to use when determining whether to buy a specific item. If a product is rated well, those products are more likely to sell. Makes sense.

But these legit ranking systems on websites like eBay and Amazon are creating a new trend for other websites. These other websites are now creating a ranking system of their own. So what’s wrong?

These other websites aren’t selling products of third-party vendors. They are selling their own products.

Think about that for a moment.

ABC website sells its own products, and then maintains its own rating system for its own products. The result?

Well, take a guess what happens when someone leaves a bad rating for one of the website’s products? Think it gets published? Yeah, I doubt it too.

A couple of our competitors (who shall of course remain nameless) have implemented their own rating system. Now guess how many bad ratings there are among the thousands (yes, thousands) of products that they sell? You guessed it – none. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Thousands of products, and not a single negative review.

Now guess how many five-star ratings there are for its own products? Many. Mucho. Lots.

So this potential customer of ours thought what came naturally – “Wow! What a great store! Thousands of items – many with five star ratings – and not a single negative rating to be found! What a great place to shop!” Wrongo.

When he received his apparently poor quality tie, he submitted a negative review for the tie. He was fairly blunt (he emailed it to me), but nothing disparaging and no bad language. Clearly, this review would be helpful for the next guy to shop on this website.

But will anyone see this review? Nope. Why? Shockingly, the review wasn’t approved (can you hear my sarcasm?)

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. If the website published the review, do you think the other 57 ties of that design would ever sell again? Probably not. So why publish it?

Ah, yes. Because that’s honest business. Well honest business isn’t what’s going on here.

My suspicion about this website is validated when you actually read those five-start written reviews of its products. They all read the same way. Many of them are nearly identical, and they all have that same positive tone to them. Indeed, you’d think that these ties cure cancer or spit out money like an ATM. Never has so much enthusiasm been made for a single tie. And this type of review can be found on many of their products.

Now I ask – did someone buy 173 products from this website and then proceed to give 173 individual glowing reviews for each of these items? All of which he happened to love? Yep, I doubt it too.

Something’s fishy. What are the odds that these five-star reviews are legit? I think McCain has a better chance of winning the presidency in 2008 – and this blog entry is being written in December 2008.

I’m not trying to pick on this one website, but it is a great example of how websites create a completely misleading, fraudulent appearance of themselves online without anyone ever noticing – not even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who is supposed to govern these matters. And you, the shopper, is at risk with no one watching your back.

So here’s the point. Don’t take rankings so seriously.

Instead, here’s a simple idea for you. If you see something on a website that looks good, first check to see if that website has a reasonable return policy. If they do, and you like what you see, order one product. If it works out, great. Buy more. Buy a million, I don’t care.

But if it doesn’t, send the item back for a refund. Just be sure to leave a negative review for the item, and watch to see if it appears on the website after you submitted it.

I’ll bet you a tie that it doesn’t.

Ties with Stripes – which direction?

October 20, 2008

First of all, if you are reading this post because you’re curious to know if horizontal or (gasp) vertical stripes are appropriate for neckties, let’s get this out of the way now…

No! If you own or were given a tie with either horizontal or vertical stripes, throw it away. Now. Don’t even donate it to Goodwill because not even they want ties with horizontal or vertical stripes. They are ugly. They are not in style. They have never been in style. They never will be.

There’s actually a reason as to why (has to do with how a tie is cut), but I won’t bore you with the details. Just apologize to me for even wondering if you can wear horizontal or vertical stripes, and let’s move on.

Ok then. Diagonal stripes can move in two directions. There’s different ways to describe them – “positive slope vs. negative slope”, “right to left vs. left to right”, “to the heart vs. away from the heart”, etc. For this discussion, I’ll use the terms “right to left” (stripes going downward from the upper left to the lower right) vs. left to right” (stripes going upward from the bottom left to the upper right).

Read that again because it can sound confusing.


Ok. So why don’t tie designers like us have a ‘standard’ way of making stripes? Because we’re bored and we like to make you guys look into everything we do.

Actually, there’s a historical reason as to why stripes go in two different directions. Again, I’m not here to give you a history lesson (mainly because I’ll get a bunch of angry emails telling me that something may have happened in the year 1674 instead of 1764. And I hate emails like that.)

But here we are in 2008, and stripes are indeed going in different directions. The right to left direction is the “American way” of doing stripes. No, this didn’t start over nationalistic anger similar to the whole “freedom fries” movement in 2001. Let’s just say, that’s where we’re at now. And it’s universally accepted.

The left to right direction is the “European way” of doing stripes. And many ties here in the U.S. do indeed have stripes going in this direction, regardless of where they may have been designed or made.

This begs the question – what’s the “Asian way” of doing stripes? Or the “Antartican way” of doing stripes? Great question. Anyone living in either of those continents can feel free to chime in at any time. But if you’re a bigger smartass than I am, I may not post it.

So which way is more common? Which direction stripes should you, Mr. Wall Street/Mr. Lawyer/Mr. Guy Who Likes to Dress Up for Work, wear? The answer is clear:

Who cares.

Yes, who cares? Why do you care? Seriously. Why are you choosing one over the other? There are some “tie snobs” who prefer the European way because that’s just the tie snob way. To them, I say “give me a better reason, jackass.” But most others just choose the tie style, color and/or construction that they like, and the direction of the stripes are inconsequential. And that’s how you should be to.

For reference (since we most recently discussed the tie-wearing habits of our two presidential candidates), let’s look at the most recent presidential debate. Both candidates were wearing “European” stripes. But Bob Schieffer and Charles Gibson were wearing “American” stripes. So whomever you think is more qualified (and some would argue the latter two), is perhaps the person that you should emmulate.

For what it’s worth, our company goes with “American” stripes. Why?

Who cares!

Ties on Presidential Candidates

October 16, 2008

Ok. Because I have this obsession in looking at everyone’s ties (after all, I own my own necktie company), I figured I’d be better off just writing about everything running through my mind as I watch John McCain and Barack Obama during their first debate. Yes, I know – it’s their third debate technically. Except if you look up the word “debate” in any legit dictionary (even some illegit dictionaries), you’d find a definition which is not on par with what these 2 did in their first two ‘debates.’

I’m already off topic. Anyway, here we go.

Barack Obama clearly likes narrow stripes. Even before tonight, I had always noticed that he wears thin stripes, often times in conservative colors. Tonight was no exception.

Obama’s power red tie with subtle red stripes was a typical Obama tie. Nothing more, nothing less. I also noticed that his red tie had a satin warp finish, rather than a matte twill finish (giving a shinier finish.) 

So what the hell does this all mean?

Well, nothing important. But you’re reading a tie blog, right? So I have to give some kind of opinion, even though we both should be helping the starving kids in Africa.

Some argue that wearing wide stripes shows either: (1) you’re the most important person in the room, or (2) it’s 1979. But both arguments are wrong.

First, wider stripes (one inch or so) are classic conservative ties that have managed to stick around longer than cockroaches (although if you step on a wide-striped tie, it doesn’t make the same crunch sound.) So the fact that Obama is wearing a narrow-striped tie doesn’t necessarily means he’s a fashion-forward guy. Although he’s certainly not out of style either, so I have no idea what point I was trying to make.

It’s also not 1979 because I have gray hairs in my goatee. You see, in 1979, I had no hairs on what would have been my goatee. In fact, hair was a rarity anywhere on my body (except my head). I had one of those Jewfros, so really, hair on my head wasn’t an issue in 1979.

I’m lost again.

Ok – here’s my summary on Senator Obama. Like most high-profile politicians, Obama is simply not looking for any special attention with respect to his wardrobe. He doesn’t want you to notice his tie. That’s not a bad thing. Some guys lead with their tie and others don’t (that’s why we sell both types on our website.) Obama just plays it safe.

Some might say he was subliminally looking for that ‘patriotic’ feel by wearing his red tie with a navy suit and crisp white shirt. Some might even think it isn’t subliminal. Either way, Obama’s record of being a snappy dresser continues – and merely because he takes so few chances.

So what about Mr. Fashion Plate, John McCain?

Well that wide pinstripe suit was certainly something out of the ordinary for him. It looked like his kids picked out a suit at Bachrach for him, which he is only 40 years too old for.

But once I got past the wide pin stripes, I noticed his ultra-boring striped tie. How shocking. McCain wore a boring tie.

Why would anyone wear a navy tie with a navy suit? Well, once again, we have a guy not looking to have his tie get him any attention. But unlike Obama’s power red tie – which had the sharp red color to help his outfit come together McCain just called it in with a navy and white striped tie. His knot sucked too – it was way too small (a bad four-in-hand knot), and because of his height (or lack of height), he looked like a clown.

So who won the tie debate?

Bob Schieffer, who, as always, wore colorful bold stripes which popped perfectly from his charcoal suit. I love that guy. Not “love” as in “love”, but more of a “love” type of thing. Get it?

So do you feel you just wasted your time reading this? Good. Because I feel like I just wasted my time writing it.

Next week’s topic will be about tie stripe direction. It’s a topic more commonly discussed at the kitchen table than personal finances. And I’ll be here to give my much-waited opinion on the matter.

Thanks for reading.

Still haven’t heard of The Tie Bar?

October 3, 2008

Welcome to The Tie Bar! We are located just outside Chicago, Illinois (in beautiful Naperville), but our entire inventory can be viewed and purchase online at

Who are we?

Well what started as a cute little business idea of designing our own ties and selling them over the internet has transformed into one of the largest necktie brands on the internet.


The Tie Bar’s $15 handmade silk ties have bucked the theory that the more you spend on a necktie, the better quality it must be. Ungodly necktie mark-ups have gone on long enough! Our margins are small but our volume is high. The result is some really happy guys out there, from Wall Street to Hollywood and everywhere in between.

Since our humble beginnings in 2004, we have added extra long ties, bowties, boy’s ties, pocket squares, cufflinks and dress shirts.

We’ve also now become one of the most popular sources for wedding parties, five-star restaurant staffs, luxury hotel personnel and so much more. If you need 1 or 1,000 neckties, our $15 price and our stylish and colorful collection of neckties makes us the place to start shopping.

Check back with us frequently, as we will begin to blog about necktie do’s and don’t’s (can a word have two apostrophes?), as well as general trends in the world of men’s clothing.

Don’t agree with what we have to say? Too bad! (Ok, not really “too bad”. Well, sort of.)