Style Defined: The Tie Clip

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The story of the tie clip (or tie bar) is one of function. Since the dawn of decorative neckwear, keeping a tie or cravat in place and not blowing in the wind has been a key concern. Aside from a waistcoat, there have been three methods of securing a tie: tie pins, tie chains and tie clips/tie bars.

Tie clips and tie bars serve a practical purpose: to hold one’s tie in place.

Tie pins offered more control over the position of the tie, as a pin would go through the fabric and fasten it to the shirt. This method was most popular in the time when men regularly wore cravats.

Tie chains are one of the flashier and more decorative methods for securing one’s tie. Similar to the chain of a pocket watch, this accessory hangs loosely around the tie to keep it in place.

Over time, the tie clip became the preferred method to fasten one’s tie to a shirt. The tie clip offered the same tight positioning as the tie pin, but did not ruin expensive fabrics such as silk by creating holes in the material.

Anatomy of a tie clip

The tie clip is made up of a small strip of metal folded into a tight U-shape. The metal tips press together to hold the material firmly. Early clips ranged from simple steel to more precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum.

When the waistcoat began to fade from everyday attire, the tie clip became a small sign of the wearer’s class, status and affiliation. Some clips worn by groups such as the Stonemasons, had special emblems or markings on them to denote rank and membership in the secret societies. Similarly, clubs and businesses created tie clips with their own logos so members and employees could display their affiliation.

What’s the difference between a tie clip and a tie bar?

The question of how a tie clip differs from a tie bar is largely one of semantics. Both can be considered a “tie clasp.” If you want to split hairs, a tie bar would be a a single strip of metal as described above, while a tie clip would be two separate pieces held together by a spring mechanism.

What is the proper way to wear a tie clip?

Knowing all history in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t understand the proper etiquette or rules for wearing a tie bar. Luckily, we’ve got a guide for that.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Menswear history buff? Read more of our Style Defined series and explore the Glossary.

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