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  • Writer's pictureRachel

Styling Class 101 - Taping Shoes and Tieing Ties

In this week’s edition of fashion school, shoes and ties took centre stage. It seems strange to tape shoes and that we should learn how to properly do a tie in different styles, but these were the basics of styling class!

Taping Shoes

Firstly, why do stylists tape shoes? The short answer is to prevent damage to the soles. On a shoot, a stylist may not know what shoes will end up being used - it’s very common for styling choices to be changed at the last minute. A pair of shoes may originally be planned to be used, but get scrapped if they don’t fit the “vision” of the shoot, among a whole bunch of reasons. This is why stylists tape the bottom of shoes, so that if they don’t get used, they can be returned to the agency they were hired from, or in other cases returned to the store they were bought from with very minimal, if any, damage.

Apparently, stylists occasionally get a bad reputation for doing this - especially the whole purchasing of products to later return after they’ve been used. Coming from my own modelling perspective, I understand both sides. Purchasing clothing or shoes for a shoot can get very expensive, particularly if you’re hiring hair and makeup, a photographer, and a studio to shoot in. Taping shoes is a good option to get around the sometimes exorbitant expenses of doing shoots, and I can see why stylists would choose this option (on the other hand, retailers must find this frustrating!) Nevertheless, the trick to taping shoes to prevent damage is to cover the entire sole in masking tape, then adding a second layer of gaffer tape (which can be purchased at hardware stores). Once you have finished with the layers of tape, remember to be careful when peeling it off, particularly if the shoes have paint on the soles, as the removal process can tear the paint from the soles.


Tieing ties is undoubtedly most important in menswear. Stylists working on TV sets, including styling news anchors, need to learn the basics. So, if you’re a future menswear stylist, this section is for you! And if not, it’s still interesting to know.

The first basic tie is called a four-in-hand knot. Also called the schoolboy knot, this is a favourite of, you guessed it, school boys. A thin knot that looks a bit more casual than the other styles of knot, is the basic type that you should learn as an introduction to the world of ties.

The second knot style, the Windsor knot, is a favourite of news anchors and businessmen. A thicker knot, which is much more fuller looking than a four-in-hand knot, is suitable for business attire, and in my opinion looks very slick with a pocket square.

The last style, which I found incredibly difficult, is a bow tie. Probably less common than the first two knots mentioned, a bow tie is seen on formal outfits including tuxedos, or as a quirky addition to a more “preppy” men’s outfit. I think bow ties are really cute, and I wonder if we’ll ever see them in womenswear? Tieing a bow tie feels like fighting with a reluctant pretzel to get the right shape, and even then I definitely struggled with getting the tension correct and to get it sitting correctly. I think, for learning how to tie a bow tie, YouTube is our friend!

What do you think about taping shoes in styling? Would you do it? What about the fascinating and/or complicated world of men’s ties... Helpful to learn or no? Sound off in the comments below!

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