We live in the casual age. At no other time in history have men been expected to dress formally less often than we do today. Across the country companies have all but banned any sort of dress codes, as casual Fridays have slowly spread across the five-day workweek. Similarly, many of us have embraced the facial grooming habits of our great grandfathers and let nature take its course by embracing the all-natural power of the beard, rather than quivering at the slightest bit of shadow gracing our faces like our for-bearers in the 1940's & 50's.
As beards become increasingly popular among men of a younger age, certain questions begin to pop up: Are we still chopping our own wood to heat our downtown condos? Are we all capable of giving our hybrid cars oil changes? And when the time comes, do we know how to dress when our favorite graphic tees won’t make the cut?
Fear not, as with many things we can look to history for the best advice on how to balance the robustness of our facial follicles with the polished look of a formal man about town. Presidents, athletes, and actors of all sorts have laid the groundwork for how to maintain their signature rugged image while looking the part of a professional, all by simply making a few quick changes to their wardrobe. None of which is more important than the addition of a tie.
While many of us would never choose to wear a tie unless required to by force, ties provide the perfect compliment to your well-groomed man mane by creating sharp contrast and making a statement about the versatility of your personal style. We all believe beards set us apart from our shaven contemporaries because we embrace a more mysterious, exotic, and bold look, but by adding a tie, you’re not only changing people’s perception of your identity – you’re looking damn good while doing it.
Yet, the same style of tie, much like beards themselves, is not for everyone and depending on the length and girth of your beard, you might want to opt for a different style of neckwear. With that in mind, let’s talk options:
Many of us grew up with bow tie wearing fathers, however, during the late 90s and early 2000s, we saw the bow tie go all but extinct. Recently though the bow tie is undergoing a renaissance of sorts and they’ve started popping up on red carpets, in TV studios, and at weddings the world over.
Although bow ties aren’t for everyone, they’re a great way to stand out in a crowd of formal gentlemen and for those of us with short enough beards, they can add a much needed pop of color to your suit, which can otherwise be a one note look without. Additionally, bow ties are best executed by fellas with slimmer builds since the ties themselves are more compact and bring more attention to the neck and shoulder region.
What to buy: We like the hand crafted and American made bow ties from Fox & Brie, designed and produced in Austin, TX.
The standard, the go-to, the de facto tie for all occasions, impromptu or grand, the standard necktie is the OG of the neckwear world. Some of you might think back on your early tie experiences with disdain, whether it involved early elementary school pictures, bar mitzvahs, or being forced to dress up when going to see grandma, but now you’re a grown ass man and if you don’t feel more purposeful and confident while wearing a tie than you’re just flat out wrong.
As bearded men, we’re often assumed to be oblivious to our personal appearance (and hygiene). Less enlightened folks think the only reason you’d opt not to shave is if you were planning on hopping railcars or asking for spare change, however, put a bearded man in a suit and those same people will never look at you the same way again.
Although neckties fit just about everyone, if you happen to be a bigger/taller guy, or if you happen to possess a longer, more robust beard, the classic necktie is perfect for you since it’ll still be visible from under your beard while simultaneously elongating your torso. That’s what we call a win-win, gents.
What to buy: The very fine selection of neckties from General Knot & Co., designed in New York and produced in New England, will leave you and your beard looking sharper than your boss or the groom. The Dark Japanese Indigo Skinny Tie is a personal favorite.
The Air Tie
Yes, you heard me right (and no, this is not a special edition tie produced by Nike). In the past year, more and more men have been opting to go tie-free, however, that doesn’t mean looking purposefully disheveled with the top two shirt buttons undone (we recommend unbuttoning at a rate of one button per hour once the work holiday party or wedding reception has begun).
When paired with the right suit (or just pants if it’s too warm where you reside), the air tie can make a bold statement about your confidence and individuality, much like the beard you’ve decided to maintain. For those of you who can’t bare the idea of throwing a tie on, the air tie is an acceptable alternative, especially for those of us with beards lush enough to hide any tie, regardless of shape, color, or length. The key here is to make sure you still bring your A-game with the rest of your look, including wearing a shirt with a tailored fit (billowing is under no circumstances acceptable), in order to appear either professional or formal enough to play ball.
What to buy: Buying shirts without knowing your size can be a pain, but the boys over at Hugh & Crye, based out of Washington DC, take the frustration out of the process by offering a number of fits to ensure that you find the perfect shirt just for you.