Advice on making your outfit greater than the sum of its parts
A few years ago, I was invited to a wedding and bought a dark pink and gunmetal diagonal-striped skinny tie to go with a white shirt and my dark grey, three-piece suit. Everything seemed to look great together, but after the ceremony I went to the washroom, looked in the mirror and felt that something was wrong. Uncertain of myself, I spent the rest of my day with my hands in my pockets and my head down.
What went wrong? I realized a few months later that not only are matching colours important, but so are the smaller details, in my case, having a collar with an inappropriately sized tie. Colour and pattern matching can also be complex, but I think most of it is up to personal preference and there’s lots of room for interpretation. Hopefully you're not part of the 8% of men that are colourblind, but if you are, get a fashion advisor.
My first tip is seemingly obvious, but eludes most guys: match your smaller items to your larger ones. For example, buy a tie to match your shirt, and buy a shirt to match your suit. It's easy to get caught up on imported silk ties with high thread count and insane patterns, but remember, if you wear a skinny tie with a wide-lapeled blazer, you could weigh 142 pounds and look like Rob Ford.
Tie a tie
My second tip is to be aware of different collars; there are a ton of different collars on the market, but the following are the three that you'll regularly encounter: the spread, the pointed, and the button-down. [Have pictures of collars and tie-knots here] The spread is the most formal and works well with wide knots, like the Windsor; you'll probably see Bay Street lawyers and businessmen wearing these. The pointed is the most common and goes well with a Pratt of Half-Windsor knot, your supervisor is probably wearing one. The button-down is the most casual and can be worn with a Four-In-Hand knot, just make sure you always keep your button-down buttoned down. When in doubt, use this rule: match fatter ties (and fatter knots) to wider collars and wider suit lapels.
My third tip is to not forget the final touches, like the pocket square and cufflinks. Your pocket square and cufflinks are accessories and logically should complement your whole outfit. Don't be that guy that bought a box set that has a tie with matching pocket square and cufflinks. It doesn't look good and everyone will know you bought it from Sears when it was on clearance for $14.99. When in doubt, just go with a white cotton square and simple black-headed cufflinks, it's safe and you’ll look damn good.
Use this advice to your advantage and I guarantee you won’t just look better, but you’ll devilishly stand out from the crowd.