What Is A Tie Clip?
A tie clip, also known as a tie bar, is a menswear accessory that’s used to keep a necktie in place by attaching it to the shirt with which it’s being worn.
A functional form of jewelry, tie clips are available in a massive array of colors, materials, styles, and price points.
An incredibly practical accessory, tie clips prevent neckties from flopping all over the place and thus help a gentleman maintain a neat, put-together appearance.
For the discerning gentleman, there’s nothing more frustrating than a restless tie that keeps flapping in the wind. Usually, a waistcoat will keep everything fixed in place. However, if you’re not wearing a waistcoat, a tie clip is an excellent option.
Tiny accessories like tie clips speak volumes about us, and there’s a lot to know about them to wear them not just correctly, but with style. Note that the phrase “tie bar” is both a specific item and a catch-all term to refer to a couple of different items. We’ll use “tie bar” throughout this page for ease of use.
This page will discuss tie clips in depth. You may read it in its entirety by simply scrolling down! We also offer a dedicated guide on how to wear a tie clip if this is what you need.
History In Menswear
The original tie pin was actually the tie tack, which saw its first use in the late nineteenth century. Throughout this time and into the period around the two World Wars, tie clips became increasingly popular as men began to forgo waistcoats in their suited ensembles.
Once this happened, tie clips became ubiquitous. Everyone, from C-level executives down to rank-and-file employees wore them. They were offered in a multitude of designs, and companies would even brand tie clips to have their employees wear.
Tie bars enjoyed popularity up until the 1990s. During this decade, popularity for the tie clip waned until it began to experience a resurgence at the turn of the century. Today, tie bars are available everywhere and enjoy the widespread popularity they deserve.
Different Types Of Tie Clips
As a marker of one’s personality, there are by necessity various styles of tie clips. We outline all of them below but you can click one of the links here to jump straight to them:
Standard Tie Bars
Technically, there are two types of tie bars: a tie clip (or clasp), which uses a spring-loaded mechanism to open and close around the tie and adhere it to the shirt, and tie bars (also known as “tie slides”), which lack such a mechanism and simply slide across the tie and shirt placket.
Our personal experience dictates that tie clips are both more popular and easier to use. Meanwhile, tie bars are often difficult to put on, wrinkle your tie, and generally don’t warrant the effort.
Tie Pins / Tacks
Tie pins, also referred to as tie tacks, perform the same function as tie clips and bars, but in a totally different way. There are typically two pieces: the pin (which includes the design element) and the base, which has a small chain with a T-bar attached to the end of it.
The original tie place keeper, tie pins are inserted through your tie and secured with the base. At that point, you take the chain and push it through one of your shirt’s buttonholes, which is what keeps the tie from moving around.
Tie chains are a bit of a throwback style and are rarely seen nowadays. They are comprised of two parts: a bar and a chain. The bar attaches to a shirt button and rests behind the tie, completely covered by it. The chain in the front goes on top of the tie, helping to hold it in place. The final look is that of your tie wearing a necklace, as they’re generally made from precious metals like silver and gold.
Different Tie Clip Materials
Generally speaking, tie bars are made of metal, typically something that appears silver or gold. Higher-end versions are made of sterling silver, gold, or platinum, while less expensive ones are made of nickel, stainless steel, or other silver-plated metals.
There are also speciality tie bars made from materials such as wood, though these are generally made in a one-off way by artisanal craftspeople as opposed to large companies.
Tie Clip Designs
Plain Metal Bar
If you’re just starting your tie bar collection, your best bet is to start with a plain metal bar, preferably in silver. This will work in most professional settings (including job interviews) and is just as appropriate at a funeral as it is on a date. Its versatility is another sell: a plain silver tie bar goes with anything.
A good rule of thumb as it relates to metals you wear is to keep them the same throughout your ensemble. This means silver tie bar, silver belt buckle, silver cufflinks. The same holds true for gold.
Metal bars are available in a wide array of shapes and sizes, including different types of engravings and etchings.
Fun / Novelty / Themed
Since the return of the tie clip’s ubiquity in the early 21st century, various makers have introduced tie clips in a broad array of colors and novelty designs. You can pick one up in blue, red, green, yellow, or whatever other color you can think of.
There are tie clips with musical notation, in the shape of glasses frames, arrows, skulls and crossbones, handguns, and just about anything else you can think of.
These tie clips are fine to wear for general purposes, but we suggest avoiding them for any kind of solemn occasion or anytime you’re making a first impression in a professional setting.
Custom / Personalized Engraving
Anything metal can be engraved, and tie bars are no different. Typically, one’s initials are engraved on the front of the tie bar, but the back can be engraved as well. These make for great gifts, especially for birthdays or as groomsmen’s gifts.
Speaking of groomsmen: if you’re a groom who’s curious about what accessories to give your guys, or just what to wear to a wedding you’re attending, check out our wedding guide.
Wearing A Tie Bar Correctly
Knowing how to properly wear a tie bar is one of those simple but very important pieces of knowledge that can make or break an ensemble. The most common errors we see are around placement, angle, size, and garments with which it’s worn.
To that end, we created an entire guide on how to wear a tie bar that covers everything you’ll ever need to know about wearing a tie clip.
More Men’s Style Resources
It’s our sincere hope that you found this guide useful! You can learn more about neckwear and accessories by visiting some of our other guides below: