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Q What is the rule about tie clips? Are guys wearing them? If so, how long should they be and where are they placed on a tie?

A Yes, guys are wearing them. The usual rule is that tie clasps go between the third and fourth buttons of your shirt, either placed horizontally or with an upward slant. By attaching the two ends of the tie to the placket of the shirt, these handy little devices help anchor a man's necktie to the front of his shirt and keep it from flying. The clasp can be either quite short or long, but never wear one that is wider than your tie.

As I often mention, while most elements of men's clothing are classic staples that do not go in and out of style, a few are subject to the pendulum swing of fashion; they change from time to time. These include trouser pleats, the width of suit jacket lapels, cuffs on trousers, the number of buttons on a double-breasted jacket, as well as tie clasps. They are popular for several years, and then they disappear from the scene. Their presence or absence makes for trends in menswear.

Some changes are so subtle that only the truly fashion-aware guy seems to notice. Others are so obvious that anyone who deviates from what is current is thought of as clueless.

After quite a few years when tie clips were out-of-style, they are now very much back in fashion. This may be for practical reasons, or it may merely be a quest for something new and different. For whatever reason, in the past few years, designers and stores have introduced a variety of tie clasps. They run the gamut from small, simple and inexpensive metal bars to elaborate, expensive designs made of sterling silver or gold. Still, just because this accessory is once again in style does not mean you must wear one, especially if you don't like them. As with pocket squares and monograms, necktie jewelry is an optional -- not an essential -- accessory. I believe in adopting those styles that appeal to you and not feeling you must dress the same as all of your colleagues. That is what makes dressing personal, individualistic ... and fun.

These days, when men are dressing up less, you might think that no one would be interested in tie clasps. On the other hand, today, when a lot of business is conducted by way of Zoom, there is a greater emphasis on what you see above the waist. A man's shirt, his jacket and often his tie become part of the essential focus of attention.

Usually, men are either definite fans of tie clasps or not. There is no rule. For men who like to add that something extra to their appearance, they offer an easy way to do so. But other men think of them as unnecessary. One reason a lot of men don't like them is that, even though they keep the two ends together, they still leave the business end of your tie free to get into trouble (dipping into your soup or into the sink while you wash your hands). Another reason some men don't like them is, unless you are careful when attaching them, they can damage or crease the surface of a fine silk tie. This is especially true for tie pins and tie tacks.

Almost all neckties come equipped with a loosely-sewn label or a small fabric loop on the underside of the larger (front) part of the tie, designed so the narrower (back) part of the tie can be slipped through and held in place. But this only does part of the job; it keeps the front and back ends of the tie from hanging down in two parts. What it does not do is keep the tie anchored to the shirt. The tie clasp goes a step further and holds both parts of the tie to the shirt.

There is an inexpensive, device that I recommend for men who don't like tie clasps. "The Tie Thing" is a narrow strip of soft, durable cotton shirting fabric, four inches long, with a buttonhole on each end. You simply slip the cotton strip through the label or loop on the back of the tie, then fasten it to the corresponding buttons on your shirt. It keeps your tie aligned perfectly. No more ties blowing in the wind. Available to match a range of shirt colors, you can create your own custom color multipack. Call (262) 790-2040 to order.

On the other hand, if you like the idea of wearing some sort of tie clip, you might keep an eye out for some distinctive vintage designs that you may discover at your local thrift shop or tag sale.

Please send your men's dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL:

Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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