Killin’ it with your Tie ~ Ian Lai

Many children grow up not enjoying their Sunday evenings. Why? Because we have school on the next day. How many of you can relate to that? However I do have 1 thing to look forward to on Mondays – Yes! I got to wear a tie on assembly day!

Here’s the proof. If you need a clue, I was at the 2nd roll from the top and fifth from the right.

Yes, I have a ‘thing’ for my ties. And I still do. Not only because it adds a bit of style, elegance, it also adds some professionalism to my job. Here I would like to share with you the clues on choosing the right tie. So gentlemen, please pay full attention. And ladies, I’m sure this will come in handy when you need to resolve a tie crisis for your other half or your boss.

First of all, do you know that Chinese are the first ones to wear a tie? Well, historians traced back to 221 B.C. for the very first existence of men wearing a fabric around the neck on the terracotta warriors, buried together with Emperor Shi Huang Ti. The more recognizable ties were found during the Thirty Years’ War in Europe wore by the Croatian Army, also known as the ‘Cravat’. And it went on to popularize in western cultures.


So why is wearing a tie important in today’s world? Because the tie is the first thing that people usually notice about your dressing. Especially in the corporate world, we want to project a solid first impression. The Americans are fully aware of this as they spend over a Billion dollars on ties annually.

So how do we select the right tie? 3 Simple Rules.

Rule#1 – the Right Length

The right length for a tie is just long enough that the tip of the tie covers your belt buckle. If it is too short, it would not reflect a confident image. If it’s too long, you will project an immature image.


Rule#2 – the Width

Which tie looks nicer on Zach Galifianakis? The one the right. Although skinny ties are the ‘in’ thing, they happen to be too skinny for his boy shape. The one on the right gives a much-balanced appearance for a bigger sized person like him.

One more example – David Beckham. Which tie looks better? Some female fans out there would think both look great, but as a tie critic, I believe the one on the left looks a tiny bit out off. Do you know why?


It is all about finding the right proportion. We should match the width of our tie to the width of our jacket lapels. And David Beckham did exactly the right thing on the right one. (sorry Becks!)

Next, Rule#3 – the Pattern

Pick a pattern that complements your outfit. If your shirt’s pattern is pronounced, choose a subtle tie; if your shirt is simple, your tie can be a bit flashier.


Or you can always go for the classic Solid Tie that would be suitable for any formal event. The only thing to take note is NOT TO WEAR a solid chilly red tie if you are not the host or the most powerful person in the room. In order not to overpower people like Obama, here are some alternatives or we can go for other tones of red like the burgundy.

Wearing the right tie can go a long way in establishing a solid personal brand. But knowing when to wear or not to wear is equally crucial. Here are 2 occasions when you should avoid wearing a tie:

#1 – When you are specifically asked not to. Read the ‘Dress Code’ column carefully if you are being sent an invitation. If it says “Casual. No ties.” please just follow even though you wear a tie seven days in a week.

#2 – When you know that the host of the event that you are attending usually dresses down.
Never ever out-dress the host by wearing a tie and draw all the attention away from him.

Finally, wearing a tie is not always a MUST, but it does help you to project some confidence and trust.

Therefore, to wear a tie or not to wear a tie, it is totally your call. But when you think of wearing one, I urge you to find the most suitable tie to reflect who you are, what you do and show the world the how awesome you are. For me, I will usually go for the simple / elegant way of wearing one, and they need to be in my energy colour scheme.


Have fun exploring the right Tie for the Right You. Tie it Right and bring the Best out of your BrandImage. 




Ian Lai | Brandingprenuer • Trainer




T  +603 7717 4922

Ian Lai is the Brandingpreneur from BrandtalksAsia. His passion is to assist companies and individuals to discover their WOW factors towards becoming a Brand. Please contact him at for consultation on Personal & Corporate Branding.

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