A tie pin can make you look really good, or really silly. It all depends on knowing how to wear it. There’s an etiquette for tie pins that doesn’t seem to be as well known as it once was. Let’s also be specific. We’ll use tie pins to refer to the pins that you can put through ties, and tie bars for the bars that come from the edge.

Where to Wear It?

A tie bar should not be too close to your neck, nor low enough to border or lay across your stomach. A tie bar should be located somewhere between your pectoral muscles. Letting your arms hang loose at your sides, if it’s located below the level of your elbows, it’s too low.

A tie pin, on the other hand, can be somewhat higher. It should be anywhere from between the pectoral muscles all the way up to the top of the pectoral muscles. Letting your arms hang loose at your sides, if it’s even with your shoulders or higher, it’s too high. Don’t choke it all the way up to your neck.

For a fun and surprisingly good visual guide for where to place tie pins and bars, Google Moriarty’s smart-looking tie pins and tie bars from “Sherlock.” Just…try not to use them for evil like he does.

Adjust Based on Ensemble

Now, beware the tie bar with a three-piece suit. This is selective wearing. A tie bar is intended for keeping a tie in place. A three-piece suit already does this for you. Does this mean that you should forego a tie pin altogether? Not necessarily. Consider this more natural territory for tie pins than tie bars.

A pin can look good especially because the suit already highlights the upper portion of the tie. A bar is more difficult, but not impossible to pull off. Just be aware that you will look more self-aware if you wear a tie bar with a three-piece suit. Looking self-aware isn’t a bad thing if your look is clearly intentional. In other words, be extra judicious about the combination when making this choice. When you wear a tie bar this way, be sure that you are carrying it with confidence.

The best way to do this is to let the tie bar only half-feature. Let part of it hide just beneath the suit, and then become just visible as it comes across the tie.

The Skinny Tie Dilemma

Skinny ties can also pose a problem. Never be afraid to ask a retailer how to avoid fashion calamity. You don’t want a larger pin to swallow most of the width of the tie, nor do you want a wider bar to exceed the tie’s width. If you wear skinny ties, buy your tie pins and bars accordingly so that they’ll fit. They should be physically smaller so that the ratio of space they take up remains similar in look to how physically larger pins might appear on physically larger ties.

While fashionable, tie pins and bars have excellent excuse as a utility. This means that anything you’d wear a tie for, you can also wear a tie pin or bar for as well. It’s not considered ostentatious, and it strikes people as both practical and impressive. It’s one of the best accessories in which you can invest.