Ties Aren't Just For The Office Anymore - Here's The Chic Way To Incorporate Them Into Your Looks

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For over a century, ties have been a fashion staple for business and society men alike. Paired most often with blazers, button-downs, and tailored pants, they're the expectation — if not the rule — when it comes to professional office wear. The modern version of the tie, inspired by 17th-century cravats, was patented in the '20s by Jesse Langsdorf, per Time. Neck adornments, in general, can be traced back thousands upon thousands of years to China in the 3rd century B.C. (via The Washington Post).

This office staple has experienced its fair share of changes for the past few decades. From super skinny designs in the '50s to extra wide ties in the '70s, they continue to fluctuate in length, width, and pattern. However, recent years have seen a startling drop in neckties altogether, with tech moguls opting for a more casual office aesthetic and celebrities forgoing shirts on the red carpet. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businessmen are dawning comfy sweaters as opposed to blazers, boxing up their ties in storage.

However, amid all this change, influencers and it-girls have adopted the tie as a streetwear staple. Inspired by Y2K pop stars and Indie Sleaze, modern ties aren't just for the office anymore. Here's how to incorporate them into your daily look, whether you're heading to work or meeting a friend for brunch.

Experiment with spring pastels

Update the classic blazer and tie combo by experimenting with pastel shades to celebrate spring. For starters, stroll through the aisles of your local thrift store to find a subtle purple tie, pairing it with a checkered blazer — like this design from Lord & Taylor— a neutral-toned button-down, pastel pants, and flats. Don't forget the coordinating purse! The bottom line? Dopamine dressing, or experimenting with color and patterns, can have a positive effect on your mental health, per Glamour.

Upcycle your own necktie skirt

If you've been holding on to a collection of old neckties — or recently hit the jackpot during a thrift excursion — upcycle them into a mini skirt like TikTok creator @chloeskye. Style your DIY skirt with a cropped tee and combat boots or, like Chloe, platform loafers and a Y2K-style zip-up sweater. The amount of textile waste Americans produce each year is steadily growing, according to the EPA. Ultimately, thrifting and upcycling are among the best ways to combat this concerning trend on an individual level. Why not start with ties?

Opt for a powerful leather trench and a mini skirt

Pay homage to the iconic costume from 1999's "The Matrix" and splurge on a faux leather trench, pairing it with a black tie and button down. With A-listers like Bella Hadid and Margot Robbie recently rocking this turn-of-the millennia aesthetic, it's time you give it a go yourself. Complete the look with tights and a micro mini, layering on a sweater for added warmth on chillier days. Of course, it wouldn't be "The Matrix" without slicked-back hair.

The no-pants look is trending

Pants are becoming increasingly obsolete in 2023, with renowned brands like Miu Miu incorporating the look into their most recent runway shows. If you're not comfortable rocking full-on underwear on the sidewalk like Kendall Jenner and Julia Fox, opt for a sturdy pair of bike shorts. Channel Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" and wear an oversized white button-down on its own, accessorizing with a loose tie. Complete the no-pants look with knee-high boots and a pair of celebrity-worthy shades.

Drape your vintage tie like a scarf

If you don't know how to knot a tie, no problem. Watch a YouTube tutorial or, if you're in a rush, forgo the knot altogether and casually drape your tie like a scarf around your neck. Look to French luxury brand Celine for inspiration — they're committed to reviving 2000s Indie Sleaze, askew ties and all. Complete the look with low-rise cargo pants, a tube top, and a knitted shrug, tying it all together with combat boots. The next step in the Y2K revival is looping that tie around your waist like a belt.

Why not wear it with a formal dress?

Although neckties have historically been associated with men's suits, turn that history on its head and opt for a formal evening gown instead. Pay homage to the women's power suits of the '80s by investing in a dress with fashionable shoulder pads like this design from Revolve and completing the look with glamorous heels. You can also never go wrong with a Coco Chanel-inspired little black dress. Pair yours with a loose necktie, a bold red lip, and a stylish updo.

Pay homage to Gossip Girl

From Serena van der Woodsen's chunky jewelry and metallic fabrics to Blair Waldorf's consistently classy pea coats, "Gossip Girl" was on the cutting edge of style when it aired in 2007. Recreate one of Serena's go-to looks: a white tee shirt, a cropped leather jacket, a plaid skirt, leggings, knee-high boots, and (of course) a loose tie. The Upper East Sider is also known for her vests. Check out this structured Y2K design from H&M, and layer it over your white tee and under your leather jacket.

Pair with a cable knit sweater and jeans

From cable knit crew necks to pleated minis to double-breasted blazers, the preppy aesthetic is certainly leaving its mark on the 2020s. For inspiration, look to Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs from the early 2000s or rewatch "Gilmore Girls." Designers like Miu Miu have reintroduced prep to the world of high fashion, adding a modern, intensely-cropped twist. Style a cable-knit v-neck sweater with thrifted jeans, a turtleneck, and an untied necktie. Complete your look with a headband worthy of the early aughts.

Keep it casual with bike shorts and a bomber jacket

Just because neckties are traditionally seen in office spaces, that doesn't mean you can't incorporate them into your casual streetwear. Put together an '80s-inspired ensemble with an oversized bomber jacket, chunky jewelry, and hints of neon. As compared to ties in the '50s and '60s, neckties throughout the '80s were much wider, per Gentleman's Gazette. Check out your local thrift store to find an extra-large tie, or scroll through Etsy's virtual shelves. Underneath, wear a crewneck and bike shorts à-la Princess Diana.

Accessorize a Canadian tuxedo

Double denim (aka the Canadian tuxedo) has been stylish since '50s icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley first sported the look (via Voir Fashion). It continued to rise in popularity throughout the '70s and '80s and shows no signs of slowing down in the 2020s, with celebrities like Bella Hadid and Julia Fox reviving '90s grunge. Elevate your modern-day Canadian tuxedo with an expertly-knotted tie. For instance, @_freenzzz_ accessorizes a light-wash denim jacket and jeans with a red necktie, looping it around a cropped collared shirt. Take inspiration from her and add a colorful tie to any denim on denim look. 

Take it up a notch with overalls

Speaking of denim, style your necktie underneath a pair of overalls and a matching jacket for a stylish, androgynous aesthetic. If you do opt for overalls, keep in mind that they don't have to be washed all that frequently, according to costume designer Tyler Minor. As he told InStyle, "I suggest caring for them the same way you care for your jeans," adding, "Wash them inside out with cold water, and only wash them when needed." For shoes, wear platform loafers or your go-to pair of white sneakers, completing the look with hoop earrings.

Maximalism is bigger than ever, literally

Maximalism — known for its loud colors, patterns, and larger-than-life silhouettes — took off on social media in the wake of the pandemic. The antithesis to millennial minimalism and trends like the "clean girl" aesthetic, maximalism celebrates individualism rather than uniformity. For @saracampz, neckties are a big part of that. "I call myself a maximalist because no matter what sort of vibe I'm feeling for the day — whether it be goth, Y2K, Victorian era — I always make it me," she explained to BuzzFeed

Wear with a tank top and low-rise pants like Avril Lavigne

With hits like "Sk8er Boi" and "Complicated," Avril Lavigne was the pop-punk princess of the early aughts. The singer's fashion sense was just as distinctive as her music, what with her low-rise camo, converse, and black lowlights. Recreate her look from the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002 by sporting a white tank top, baggy pants, and a loose tie. On top of that, bring back arm warmers — check out this pair on Amazon — and tight-line your eyes with a black pencil.

Tie it like a bow

Bows, which began as a sign of wealth in the 18th century, have evolved into a relatively-common adornment. "In stories like 'Anne of Green Gables' or 'Little House on the Prairie,' a hair ribbon was always a very special and expensive accessory, often made of the finest silk and in the most beautiful colors," designer Shelly Horst recalled in a conversation with Harper's Bazaar, adding, "I love how a bow can be used to pull an outfit together." Shape your necktie in an elegant bow around your collar, completing the look with a pleated skirt and heeled boots.

Craft your own bra top

TikTok has become the go-to platform for experimentation, with everything from Clowncore to Whimsigoth inspiring today's top fashion houses. It also creates a space where small-scale designers and creatives can share their recent projects. For example, @cherienesss reimagines the necktie, using safety pins to craft it into a barely-there bra top — no sewing necessary. The creator pairs this upcycled invention with a low-rise maxi skirt and edgy, heeled boots, making for the perfect grungy going-out look. 

Stick with a cardigan

Now that so many of us are used to working from home, it's hard to get back into the routine of non-stretchy fabrics. Rather than matching your tie with a classic structured blazer, opt for something a bit cozier like @_coleharper. Start with an oversized (and ideally fuzzy) open-front cardigan, wearing a silky button-down and tie underneath. Complete the look with an "Emily in Paris"-worthy beret, stylish shades, and even layered necklaces.

Wear it as a headband

Wearing a necktie on your head doesn't necessarily mean an office party has gotten out of hand: It can also be an intentional fashion statement. "I think we as a society need to start wearing old vintage men's neckties as hair accessories," says TikTok creator @the_dehydrated_manatee, also pointing out how cost-effective they are. Draw inspiration from "Daisy Jones and the Six," and use your old ties as a headband in a '70s outfit, flared jeans and all.

You can't go wrong with a classic suit

Wearing a tie with a tailored suit is a fool-proof classic. It was a style pioneered by queer women like Marlene Dietrich and Gladys Bentley throughout the 1930s. Now nearly a century later, it is a go-to for industry A-listers like Janelle Monáe and Tessa Thompson. While the majority of 21st-century suits prioritize structured, clean lines — Zendaya's 2022 Academy Awards afterparty fit is the perfect example — women's suits of the '90s were all about that oversized silhouette.

The necktie and maxi skirt combo is a modern classic

Almost as if in direct rebellion to the micro mini, maxi skirts are also gaining popularity. As fashion forecaster Kendall Becker confirmed in a conversation with Refinery29, "Fashion, in general, is seeing a moment of extremes." Pair your trendy maxi skirt with a classic button-down, layering on a corset top for added dimension. Complete the look with an open-front cardigan or blazer and (of course) a necktie. Though denim maxis are all the rage, you can also opt for a tiered design like this one from Urban Outfitters.

Sometimes just a bra top does the job

Not only does the "underwear as outerwear" trend apply to pants (or a lack thereof), but it also applies to bras and bra-tops. Though you don't have to opt for the so-called "micro bras" dominating recent runways, go ahead and match your necktie with a black bralette like this longline design from Parade. Complete the look with high-waisted bike shorts and a blazer, or pair it with a mini skirt and matching short-sleeve button-down.

Keep it simple with a pair of jeans

Last but certainly not least, you can't go wrong with jeans. Men have been rocking the denim and necktie combo for decades — Andy Warhol, in particular, was a huge fan of the look throughout the '70s, according to The Guardian. As Bob Colacello explained in his celebrated biography of the artist, the combination was suitable no matter the location, whether uptown and elite or downtown and edgy. Try the style out for yourself, investing in a pair of straight-legged jeans, an oversized blazer, and a classic button-down.