Your necktie and how you wear it speaks volumes: Are you trying to convey a stylish and casual look or are you going for something more formal and academic? Are you a creative and off-beat innovator or an authoritative managerial type?

No matter what look you are trying to cultivate, there are a few guiding principles to wearing a tie that can help ensure that the statement you are making is a positive one. Keep reading for our advice on winning the neckwear style contest!

Length

No matter what style or pattern you choose, a good fit exudes confidence. If the end of your tie sits too high on your torso or too low, you'll look unkempt. Instead, aim to have the tip of your tie reach the middle of your belt buckle or waistband on your pants. To get this just right, you may need to adjust the size and tightness of your knot. If this is consistently a problem, it might be time for a new tie.

Width

Neckties come in a variety of different widths, each catering to the personal style of the wearer. Whether you prefer a skinny tie or something wider is a matter of personal preference, but in general, for men who work in more formal fields such as banking and law, wider ties are the de facto choice. In more laid-back offices, narrow ties are a trendier option. If you're wearing a suit, look to the lapels for guidance. Matching the widest point of your tie with the widest point of your suit lapel will avoid appearing off-balance or miss-matched. Whether your lapels are wide or narrow, your tie should be as well.

Knot

Speaking of knots, there are a number of different directions that you can go in. Which one you should choose depends on the occasion, the shirt you're wearing, the tie, and your own personal style preferences:

Four-in-hand: An easy, everyday knot, this is a solid choice for a regular day at the office. However, because it is asymmetrical and slightly elongated, it doesn't convey formality particularly well. Use this for a casual gathering, and with a shirt that has a narrow-spread or button-down collar.

Half-windsor: A step up in formality, this is a go-to knot for job interviews and important professional meetings. More symmetrical than a four-in-hand and requiring less of the tie fabric, it tends to be a common choice for broad and/or tall men, and goes well with medium spread collars.

Full-windsor: The full-windsor has a similar shape to its half counterpart, but with a larger thicker knot. This means that it pairs well with longer, thicker ties and shirts with widespread collars. Full-windsors tend to have a formality about them, so break them out the next time you're headed to a wedding or other fancy function.

Bow Tie: Looking for something different altogether? Stand out by wearing a bow tie. They can be highly formal when worn with a tuxedo jacket, or dressed down when paired with a more casual dress shirt.

Type of Men's Ties Infographic, by Perry Ellis