An Ode to the Tie Clip

Last Sunday, I wore a tie clip. Much like bow ties and pocket squares, tie clips (or tie bars, or tie clasps) have dropped in usage in the past half-century. As Paul Devlin wrote in Slate three years ago, tie bars served as badges for employees and members of organizations. Then, as casual dress invaded places of work and leisure, metal bars attached to ties began to disappear. Luckily, the outlook is good for uncommon formal accessories. Bow ties aren’t nerdy, they’re hip. Pocket squares aren’t unnecessary, but the sign of a man dedicated to his appearance, as they should be.

And, much like bow ties and pocket squares, I think tie clasps will come “back in.”  Not only is fashion trending back towards formal wear, but tie bars are plain easy to use. It’s too early to say whether the detailed, colorful tie clips of old, like the one pictured, will make a return. But, pick up a silver plated and gold plated tie clip, and you’ve basically covered, in terms of matching. Sure, you can get detailed; but, at this point, tie clips are so rare that even a simple design will turn heads. (As they grow more popular, perhaps more than two clip will be adequate for a proper collection. Still, the number of possible tie bar designs/colors is dwarfed by the pocket square’s variety.) To top it off, tie clips prevent your tie from dipping in soup/salad/anything it shouldn’t be dipping in.

Where you place a tie clasp is vital to its appearance. If you’re dressing conservatively, make the jacket cover the tie clip when buttoned. This should be between the fourth and fifth shirt button. However, for more risky attire, pushing a tie clip to the third or second shirt button creates a sort of “bubbling” tie. Similar to the puffed pocket square, a tie with a high tie bar is a piece of fabric that’s desperate to escape the confines of the traditional suit. You can even scoot your tie up for extra “oomph.” Since I didn’t take a picture of myself last Sunday to demonstrate the power of a high tie clip, this Street Etiquette shot will have to do:

As you can see, tie bars are an easy method to add gloss to an outfit. I found my tie clips at Kohl’s. Just look for a department store that sells cufflinks, and they’ll probably sell tie clips too. The Slate article is three years old. His hope of a re-emergence of tie clips is closer than ever. Mark my words, they’ll be back.

Tie bar photo credit: Amazon

Vintage clip photo credit: Worthpoint

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