If 1991 is the Year of the Dress for women, it most certainly is the Year of the Tie for men.

Between spring and fall last year, traditional patterns' share of the tie market fell from just under 60 percent to 36.5 percent. This spring, sales of traditional ties are expected to drop again.What's taking the place of traditionals? Contemporary styles. The market has evolved from florals into botanicals, fruit prints, jungle scenes and conversationals.

Sales of such ties, plus oversized paisleys and other exaggerations of traditional motifs, are predicted to reach a whopping 70 percent of total sales.

New ties or old, a knotty fashion problem remains: How wide should a fashionable tie be?

New ties average between 33/4 and 37/8 inches; soon they will be at 4.

"We're at 37/8," says Craig Copland of Countess Mara, the premier manufacture of men's neckwear. "Mara will go to 4 inches by fall."

XMI's Bert Pulitzer says that "even the most conservative button-down guys" will love 4-inch ties.

Wemco's Arthur Pulitzer says his company's ties will be 4 inches wide by fall.