2016 Fox GOP Debate Neck Wear Grades


Bow Tie

Four in Hand

Four in Hand

Tonight officially kicks off the debate season for the 2016 Presidential Election with the first GOP

Debate hosted by Fox News.  In the 2012 election, I graded the neckwear of the candidates at the debates and thought we would revisit that idea here again.  There are 10 candidates who are on stage for the GOP debate sponsored by Fox News, with the remaining 7 having been invited to a pre-debate not-in-primetime “JV” debate.  This post should not be considered any comment on the policies or political stances of the candidates, nor should any grade be seen as an endorsement or critique, save to the sartorial choices made.

Half Windsor Red

Half Windsor Knot

Windsor Red

Full Windsor knot

There are a lot of options for shirts, ties, and the respective combinations but I expect most will keep the choices noticeably simple.  I expect to primarily see red or blue ties and a lack of bow ties but I can hope for some sartorial risks tonight.

When evaluating the neckwear of the candidates, these are the ideas I keep in mind:

  • Does the tie “read” well on my TV screen – candidates will be knocked down for a tie that bleeds.
  • Does the tie’s width match the width of the suit lapel – proportion is king of menswear style.
  • Is the tie width, and suit lapel width, appropriate for their body type – proper proportion and fit matters.
  • Is the knot well formed – a dimple in the tie, not pulled too tight, is a sign of proper care.
  • Does the knot match the shirt’s collar – no half-windsor knots on spread collar shirts, please.
  • Subjective opinions on the style choice


In alphabetical order:

Gov. Jeb Bush – B+

Gov Bush

Gov. Bush did a very good job on this debate from a neck wear and sartorial standpoint.  I like the color choice with his purple as it reads well on TV and set him apart from the standard blue-red dichotomy.  He had a great half-windsor that was tied perfectly.  He lost points, however, where his suit was a little bit too big for him and in losing the proportions of the outfit.  His tie was too thick compared to his lapels (a problem he was not alone in this debate).

Dr. Ben Carson – B-


Dr. Carson

I also really liked the darker hued red tie with the patter used by Dr. Carson.  Unfortunately, his knot was was too small, showing that it didn’t even cover the entire open collar of his shirt.  That collar also seemed to broad on his frame and looked to be a bit too tight.  His tie was a little too skinny for his lapels and it seemed like his suit had arm holes cut so low that the entire suit moved when he shrugged.


Gov. Chris Christie – B

Gov. Christie

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it can be hard to get the proportions right for someone with Gov. Christie’s frame short of a full bespoke suit.  That said, there is no question that the knot he used was too small, making his head look larger.  The color with its light pastel blue worked well on screen and played against his tanned skin well. The suit lapels were as broad as they should be, even though they looked too thin but in a great navy hue.

Sen. Ted Cruz – C+

Sen. Cruz

Sen. Cruz is the first example of a little bit of a ding for using what looks to be a full black suit instead of navy or grey.  Sorry, but thats a consistent deduction for my rankings.  His idea of a black with white stripe repp tie was a good one, but it lost impact with the black suit at the same time.  The know was actually pretty good but needed a touch more dimple.  Sen. Cruz also had lapels on his suit too skinny for the width of his tie.  It seems that many candidates have newer suits, with their thinner lapels, but are using older ties with their wider stances.  The other problem with the suit was that it was clearly sized too large which was apparent from the collar gap at times.

Gov. Mike Huckabee – B+

Gov. Huckabee

Gov. Huckabee has been to these presidential candidate debates before and he did a very good job sartorially this time.  He had a great dimple in his tie with the appropriate coloring but maybe the knot was just a little too small.  The suit itself was a little too large for Gov. Huckabee, but the proportions of the suit lapels to his frame and his tie width to the lapels was excellent.  The dark grey-seeming suit worked well with the point collar shirt he used.

Gov. John Kasich – A

Gov. Kasich

For my money, Gov. Kasich was the neck wear winner this time.  (Be careful Gov., I think Ambassador Huntsman had my favorite tie a time or two last cycle).  He made a bold choice with the lighter colored tie, but it doesn’t work as well as Gov. Christie’s because of his lighter skin.  Aside from that, the length and size of the knot was perfect and it had a sharply defined dimple.  The proportions of his suit and tie matched nicely created a very polished appearance.

Sen. Rand Paul – B

Sen. Paul

Sen. Paul had a simple plain red tie that worked well, but he tied the know too small.  Coupled with the lack of a dimple it made this tie look somewhat like a last minute addition.  While the proportions of his tie to lapels were not as clearly divergent as Sen. Cruz, they were a little off.  He may have a 2.5″ lapel with a 3″ tie for example.  Sen. Paul also lost a little bit of standing for the black, somber suit he used but gained some of that back with it being well fitted to him.

Sen. Marco Rubio – B

Sen. Rubio

One thing kept Sen. Rubio from the top tier – his tie was bleeding on my screen.  Besides that, he had a beautiful wasp-waisted knot that was sized just right for his spread collar shirt.  The proportions of his suit seemed off, about the same level of Sen Paul’s and Sen. Rubio also had an exquisitely fitting suit.  If he had a tie that read better on TV or a suit that wasn’t as black, he could have been the top contender tonight.

Donald Trump – B-

Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump lost some points for failing to button his jacket on stage.  It may be an archaic standard, but those are the breaks.  Mr. Trump had some of the best proportions of his lapel to his tie on the stage, but had tied the knot far too small for his shirt collar.  There was a slight bleeding to the color of the tie and the shoulders seemed a bit too big for him as they formed shelves when he raised his arms.

Gov. Scott Walker – A-

Gov. Walker

Gov. Walker had a great shade of blue in his tie, though it doesn’t show on this picture.  He also lost a few points for the black suit that was a little too large, but had a sharp knot cleanly tied with a good dimple. His lapels also seemed a bit too thin for his tie, like Sens. Rubio & Paul, but he certainly is well positioned in the neck wear race moving forward.