The Return of The Tie Clip

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There are few items of jewellery that a man can get away with wearing in the workplace. A watch, a pair of cufflinks, a belt and a wedding ring are all fine, of course; but extra rings, necklaces and bracelets are often a step too far. There is, however, one oft-overlooked accessory that’s both perfectly suitable for work and highly practical: the tie clip.

The tie clip’s rise and fall is inextricably linked to the history of the tie itself. By the 1870s the tie had acquired pretty much the same long, thin form that it possesses today, but as it was often not made of expensive material most gents were quite happy to stab it through with a tie pin. By the 1920s the tie had become an altogether sleeker item that deserved to be well looked after. The tie clip stepped in: admirably keeping it under control without damaging the silk.

From the 1930s onwards the tie clip was a common sight in American political and corporate life. From the simple elegance of the solid silver bar to the gaudy, logo-emblazoned monster, they were a small yet ubiquitous accessory. Interestingly, in Britain they never quite reached the same level of acceptance as they did in the States, save for in active professions like policing. Perhaps this is because they signified practicality and a degree of manual work, things that gentlemen wouldn’t concern themselves with.

By the end of the twentieth century the tie clip was careening towards sartorial extinction on both sides of the Atlantic. The relaxation of workplace dress codes often alleviated the need for ties. In an age when the simple act of wearing one was seen as “dressing up”, the tie clip became an idiosyncrasy, and its wearers invariably labelled dandies or try-too-hards.

Thankfully, the recent marked rise in the number of men who take an active interest in dressing smartly – and the increasing acceptance among other men that this is a good thing – has led to an upturn in the tie clip’s fortunes. Personally speaking, I was a bit apprehensive about wearing one, but their sheer usefulness completely won me over. The coming of spring in Tokyo is marked by warm and very windy days, and I was sick of having to claw my tie off the back of my neck. Thanks to the tie clip, this is no longer a problem. It also saves my tie from bearing the brunt of occasional lunchtime spillages.

If you’re looking in investing in a tie clip my advice is to keep it simple. A well-made sterling silver clip, without markings or logos, can be worn both at work and at formal occasions. There is also the matter of width. My favourite tie clip is narrower, or at the most the same size as most of the ties in my wardrobe. Remember: your tie clip should offer an aesthetically pleasing counterpoint to the combination of patterns and colours in your jacket, shirt and tie, rather than scream for attention like an oversized cowboy-style belt buckle.


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Andrew Watson is the editor of men's style blog www.makethman.com. He lives in Tokyo, Japan.

Comments

  1. Jules says:

    I got a 3 tie clips, 1 is gold from st dupont which I got in the Harrods sale for only 20 pounds a solid plain burnished gold clip to go with my gold cufflinks.
    2 mother of pearl clips, one is just a clip and the other has a spring clip. They are harrods own brand but again bought in the sale and they go with every tie I own. Elegant and adds that little detail to it.

    Yes I advise tie clips or collar clips for that extra dapper look.

  2. Hemisferio says:

    And what’s the proper height to place the tie clip?

  3. Eric Bennett says:

    I own a pair of double tie chains, one gold and one silver. I always get compliments on them and have never in the four years I’ve been wearing them seen another man with the same. Sometimes single but never double. I move around a lot and clips just never stayed put, I was always fussing with them, or the tie would slowly creep upwards and ruin that clean look. They are more formal but that’s how I prefer to dress most days.

  4. OgKofB says:

    could not agree more!

  5. Andrew says:

    For placing, I find that if I clip it slightly above the halfway point on my torso it keeps the tie out of the way without bunching it up when I sit down.

  6. (name withheld - like living) says:

    I’m looking at the two pictures above – on the left is the late RFK, dapper, well dressed, a hero of the US liberal scene – with a big frown, tie bar down low.

    On the right is someone I don’t recognize but he’s a LOT older than I am – he’s wearing his tie bar way up high, and he’s got this sweet young thing enthusiastically nuzzling up to him, hence a HUGE smile on his face.

    Does wearing the tie bar up around your collar make you THAT much more interesting to the sweet young things of the world? Further research needed!

  7. Great to see the humble tie clip return to favour. Have certainly noticed more men wearing them recently.