Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Primer on Tie Bars

A friend recently asked me if I wear tie bars. No, not really. I have two, one was a recent purchase; Gabriel's horn in a gold tone, base metal and a sterling, Greek key motif one. I typically only wear them when I'm wearing a knit tie.

During the interview day at AT&T, I saw a few individuals wearing tie bars and noticed how suave they can be when paired with conservative outfits. I doubt I'll be wearing them that way. Why? I think that they are informal and I treat them accordingly.

Tie bars serve a dual purpose; functionality and decoration. They hold the tie in a fixed position and stop them from swaying. It also reduces the need for you to periodically straighten up your tie or tuck in the small end in the keeper by keep both ends together and pinned onto the shirt. Decoratively they allow a strong arch on the tie as it falls from neck to inside the jacket. It also can be designed decoratively, monogrammed, or placed in a decorative slanting manner. Keep this in mind should you decide to start wearing them.

Tie bars should be rather thick to avoid breaking under the stress of a thicker tie and the abuses of bending to accommodate a tie.

They should also have several spaces and clips in the center of the the clipping mechanism. This allows the tie to have space without bunching and enhances the life of the tie bar. How you ask? Well the spaces with clips allow the clipping mechanism to catch and pin the tie even if the end is loose. Thus, letting you use it without necessitating frequent repair. The space is also useful for catching the thicker ties without slipping out.

Lastly, let us discuss the designs. The classic look is a solid rectangle or one with round edges. I have a preference for the rectangular, sharp edged ones. Both will do, especially if you pair the round edge one with a club collar it adds more visual interest by echoing the roundness of the collar. The other classic look is a the same for with a brushed finish, monogram, or machined design. Sometimes all three are present. The more adventurous amongst us will choose a design that is whimsical or creative. Animals, cameos, and swords are common for the dandy to don. I try to stay away from anything sword in design because they can get very used car salesman in appearance. To those wanting something rare; go for something in the form of a rectangle, with or without round edges, but with a texture or scalloping. What I mean is a regular looking tie bar that has diagonals cut into the metal, for instance. These maintain the same visual as a classic tie bar while offering a personal touch that isn't too far out there for the less adventurous.

Now, of materials; one should choose sterling, in my humble opinion. Don't worry about the cost because they can be had for less then $10 shipped on eBay regularly. The positives to sterling silver are it shines well, it patinas, and resists corrosion better than some other base metals. The negatives are brand new it can cost quite a bit, it patinas, is easily scratched, and needs to be polished more often than other precious metals. All in all, I strongly recommend sterling silver.


Gregorius Mercator said...

Call me boring, but I prefer a simple, plain silver tie bar. I finally found one at Macy's on sale for 9.99 (not real silver, of course) this past February. I think it looks classy and understated. I also like tie bars with crests or something with personal relevance, though I don't own any. I used to have one with the school crest of my father's and grandfather's alma mater, but I haven't been able to find it for a while.

The Eccentric Orange Gentleman said...

I prefer simple ones but I'm not really a fan of tie bars and if I wear one it has to be interesting or I wont go through the trouble of putting one on. I'm a fan of accesories with a story or personal meaning. I have a friend who made from a bent spoon that belonged to his great grandparents. It was an interesting 3d art project that he can actually use after getting that A in a high school elective.