How many ties does the typical Metrosexual own?
May 20, 2009 12:01 AM   Subscribe

How many ties should I own?

This is not so much a fashion question as much as a psychological/human perception question. I wear a suit and tie Monday - Friday, and have only recently realized that I own some really lousy ties. I want to throw out the lame ones and upgrade to some better ones, but I'm not made of money. As it stands now, I only have about 3 or 4 really "good", fashionable ties to wear, and I'm getting mildly paranoid that people who see me everyday at work think, however subconsciously, "Oh, that tie again! What, he can't buy any more??"

Fashionistas, how many ties do you own? Is 6 or 7 a good minimum number, or do I need more like 15 or 20 or so to ensure that I have enough variety? And, do people really notice if you wear the same tie over and over?
posted by zardoz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You don't need 15 or 20. I have 7 or 8. You do need to mix and match different shirts and ties. By doing this, you can wear the same tie with two different shirts to create two very different looks. I have about 7 or 8 different colors of shirts. If you only wear white shirts, this strategy won't work as well. You can also mix and match shirt/tie combinations with different suits. I have 4 different suits. By mixing and matching I can create a lot of different combinations, enough that I don't have to wear the same one again for about three weeks. People frequently tell me that I must have an endless closet of clothes. Really, though, I don't.
posted by smorange at 12:15 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the key is to get ties that won't go out of fashion. Getting this year's fashion must have usually means you don't wear it next year, or ever again.

The more interesting and original the tie, the more likely that people will remark on having seen it before. Get maybe ten to twenty. Probably two or three to match each shirt/suit combo you've got. Rotate as you feel. Personally, I try to avoid wearing the same tie twice in a week.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:16 AM on May 20, 2009

I don't think anyone really notices. I couldn't tell you what any of my co-workers had on yesterday. I would have to go look to see what my co-workers have on right now. That's my rationale for wearing the same pants to work the fourth time this week, anyway.

This only applies if you stick to basic colors and patterns, though. Anything flashy will be more memorable.
posted by little e at 12:21 AM on May 20, 2009

View from the other side? I wouldn't particularly notice that you were wearing the same tie regularly unless it was a bad patterned or joke tie, in which case I would wonder why you were wearing it at all. I was under the impression that most men just had a few ties and rotated, though obviously taking the time to match with the shirt. Buy a clutch bold single-colour ties, I'm sure nobody is going to remark on it negatively.

If I did see somebody was wearing the same tie time and again, I would simply think he had distain for the whole tie concept, not that he wasn't smart.
posted by Sova at 12:29 AM on May 20, 2009

37. You should own 37 neckties. That's how many I own, anyway.
posted by torquemaniac at 12:35 AM on May 20, 2009

Ideally, none. The tie is the single most revolting piece of neck equipment ever devised, even worse than the noose. It serves no function whatsoever, it's a pain (in the neck), and it flaps about when it's windy and gets in the chips. I especially hate guys who drape their tie over their shoulder as though they are making a statement about how down they are with ties. "Look at me, not only do I know how to wear a tie, I also know how to drape it over my shoulder so it's out of the way of stuff." Pricks. Having said that, I possess four ties. One is a grey paisley affair, one is plain black, one is a burgundy wool tie from Kiton, and the other is a bolo.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:11 AM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You don't say how many suits and shirts you have. The fewer the suit and shirt combos you can create, the more ties to make 'different' looks. If you have more suits and shirts, you can get away with fewer ties (although I agree with little e about keeping them relatively sedate in that case), though if you have a lot of suit/shirt combos to work with, you'll probably find you want additional ties to really increase your variety.

Data point, I wear ties 3-5 days a week and I own about twenty ties (with about 15 suits - half winter, half summer weight) and about 20 shirts (not one white). Also, if you can find a good consignment store, used ties (as long as they are in good shape) can be an excellent buy - since they are one piece of clothing that really doesn't come into contact with the person wearing it (other than their hands, of course).
posted by birdsquared at 2:24 AM on May 20, 2009

As a photographer, I shoot a lot of corporate types. I notice the suit and the fit long before I notice the tie.

Some years ago I was photographing a surgeon, and I remarked that I thought he was wearing the best looking, best fitting suit I'd ever seen on anybody. This prompted a discussion about clothing, and he told me about his tailor, etc. He said the only person who can spot a $200.00 tie is the other guy who's wearing one.

Whether I'm wearing a tie or shooting somebody else who is wearing one, I always prefer something very low key.

Also, I HATE wearing ties and go to the ends of the earth to avoid doing so.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:27 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you wear different colors of shirts and suits, you need less ties to present the same level of variety in your work clothes. Unless your ties are stupendously tacky or amazingly remarkable, nobody is going to remember a tie for longer than a week, two weeks, max.

At least among those in my circle who have to wear ties, the key seems to be building up your collection over time. A fine tie is a thing of beauty, and some can be particularly timeless, lasting lifetimes. I myself love ties, even though I have no cause to wear them, and have a selection of gorgeous silk ties from my grandpa. Other guys in my family have done the same, collecting a particularly awesome tie here and there, either from joyfully retiring relatives or for special work related occasions.

A really nice tie can be quite expensive, and nobody is going to be able to predict what will be truly dated or hideous among a bunch of ties at once. Will your taste in work wear change again? Pace yourself, in the tie purchasing, is what I am trying to say.

All of that being said, if you *really* want to make a fashionable impression, you should be looking into pocket squares, post haste.
posted by Mizu at 2:29 AM on May 20, 2009

Is 6 or 7 a good minimum number, or do I need more like 15 or 20 or so to ensure that I have enough variety?

If you work 5 days a week and you have 6 ties, and you rotate ties in order, then someone who only sees you on a Monday will only see a tie repeated after 6 weeks.
posted by Mike1024 at 2:34 AM on May 20, 2009

If I'm working a Monday-to-Friday suit-wearing job, I'll have four suits, eight shirts and twenty ties. My morning glance in the mirror presents very few opportunities for delight, and I just like being able to see something different as often as possible. For what it's worth, while I do notice when a colleague wears the same tie over and over again (and I don't think many other people do), I don't think less of someone who does - what sort of person would? I'd be just as likely to say "Here comes that arsehole with the same bloody tie again" as "Here comes that arsehole with yet another bloody tie", if, indeed, some arsehole was approaching.
posted by bunglin jones at 2:39 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have about a dozen including the Three Stooges one somebody gave me as a gift. And yes I have worn it.
posted by JJ86 at 3:59 AM on May 20, 2009

In the old days, a true British gentleman would only wear four ties:

His (prep) school tie
His (university) college tie
His regimental tie
His club tie

It was how they would identify each other.

But that world is mostly gone.
posted by seasparrow at 5:17 AM on May 20, 2009 [3 favorites]

If I'm working a Monday-to-Friday suit-wearing job, I'll have four suits, eight shirts and twenty ties.

This is precisely my situation (well, I only suit up three days a week, but that hasn't always been the case).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:12 AM on May 20, 2009

You should have twice the number of pairs of shoes you own in ties.
posted by HFSH at 6:26 AM on May 20, 2009

I own about 30 ties and I feel that I am underachieving in my tie collection.

In fairness, I have family pressure to keep up with my father who owns about double the amount I currently have. When the inheritance rolls around, my sister gets the money. _I_ get the ties.

I agree with Mizu that a quality tie collection is something you honestly build up over time. It really makes many a outfit, so don't be afraid to invest in some quality.
posted by seppyk at 7:14 AM on May 20, 2009

I have 14 ties, and work M-F and every other Saturday. That I live in Korea does make my life easier (everyone wears dress shirts and ties, and the latter costs perhaps 2,000 - 4,000 won, or about $1.50 - $3.00 USD). Buying more isn't the problem - but having enough shirts to go around is occasionally an issue...

As a number to have, I'd say 10 - once every two weeks, when combined with a decent number of shirts, means you won't duplicate a shirt / tie combination more than a few times in a year. Best of luck :)
posted by chrisinseoul at 7:25 AM on May 20, 2009

30 - 50
posted by Zambrano at 9:09 AM on May 20, 2009

I enjoy wearing a suit but I don't own any ties. Instead, I have several small scarves with different colours and materials. You can tuck them inside your shirt or tack them with a stylish pin. Certainly not the most common choice for business-wear but worth a look nonetheless. Also, seconding the idea of pocket squares. They can give a really nice accent to any suit.

Nothing beats a Regency style neck cloth, though. They are surprisingly versatile. A gentleman should make the most of his opportunities to wear one.
posted by Orchestra at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2009

Oh, and then there's the slightly less dandyish version of traditional men's neckwear, the cravat. I love those, too.
posted by Orchestra at 9:38 AM on May 20, 2009

it's a pain (in the neck), and it flaps about when it's windy and gets in the chips.

Stop covering up your inability to get tie tacks and collars that fit you correctly with ideological opposition to ties.

To answer the question though; You could have a very small number (1-2) of ties that you purposely wear over and over again - like a uniform, or you could go for the wide variety and have at least as many ties as shirts. I'd stay away from the middle ground.
posted by nomad at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2009

Clearly there's a division between those who love ties and those who hate them. My SO hates on the ties to the extreme and owns an equal number of ties and shirts. His rule is, don't buy a tie unless it goes with at least two shirts and don't buy a shirt unless it does with at least 2 ties.
posted by fiercekitten at 12:00 PM on May 20, 2009

A big part of your answer just has to do with personal preference. I love neckties, but I don't like to have a lot of them. At the most, I had about 7 or so that I would cycle through, however I currently wear 3-4. With simple nondescript ties I think you can get away with wearing them more often than brighter, flashier neckties without worrying that you're overusing them. My biggest problem with using so few neckties was that the fabric near the knot begins to fray more quickly, so if you prefer to use fewer ties, you might consider keeping it tied and merely slipping it on and off rather than tying it each day. Ties are similar to shoes in that it's okay to be seen wearing the same ones over and over as long as you're taking good care of them and they look good on you.

If you do prefer to buy more ties, I like to have a few different colors that way I have different combinations to play around with and for special occasions. (e.g. When the Sharks played, I had a nice teal necktie that I would wear to work.) You should always have a black tie.

If you're looking for quality ties, I really like this seller on Etsy. (I am not affiliated)

Unless you're a college professor or a grandpa, don't ever buy a bowtie. And even then, don't.
posted by sambosambo at 3:33 PM on May 20, 2009

Best answer: Love or hate them, it is irrelevant. The fact is, for some professions a tie is not optional. It may be silly, it may offend your sensibilities, but you still need to have the tie. In such situations, I believe a few more than the days of the week you'll be seen in them—that way you'll always have an extra option if you change each day. OP says 5 days a week, that's 6 ties.

As it stands now, I only have about 3 or 4 really "good", fashionable ties to wear

I humbly suggest to you that you take a hard, critical look at the ties you own and donate anything that you're even remotely iffy on to Goodwill. If you have to wear some stupid corporate symbol around your neck, you should at least be fashionable about it. You can get a good tie for peanuts these days.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:01 PM on May 20, 2009

Unrelated to ties, I have a 2-week rule, in which if I wear something distinctive in Week 1, I don't wear it again until Week 3. Nobody notices a repeat if it's that far apart. I would imagine the same works with ties, so, ten would do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:05 PM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, for the input and advice. I forgot to mention that my shirt situation is not the best, either, and I should invest in more of those as well. And to the "screw ties! I never wear 'em!" crowd--I admire your moxie and agree with the sentiment, but some of us poor schlubs actually have to wear ties to work. But thanks for broadcasting your brave anti-tie stance anyway.
posted by zardoz at 12:07 AM on May 21, 2009

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