It’s (Sort of) On Sale: The Knottery’s Raw Silks
Speaking of raw silk ties, The Knottery now has a selection of them on their website. The regular retail price is $50, but they’re doing pre-orders for $38. The navy dotted one looks pretty versatile, and much better designed than the ones offered by Lands End last year. 
The other sources for raw silk neckwear (that I know of) are Drake’s, Vanda Fine Clothing, Panta, Marshall Anthony, J. Press, Ovadia & Sons, vintage Ralph Lauren, and vintage Bijan. There may be a couple others out there, but the market isn’t big.
Drake’s, Vanda, and Panta are the nicest, but they retail between $120 and $150. Marshall Anthony’s are also excellent, and I find they sometimes knot better than my Drake’s. They use cheaper wool/ cotton blend interlinings, but since those interlinings are lighter in weight, they help balance out the thick fabric of the raw silk. 
J. Press’ raw silks are good, but often carry more sheen than I like, and not enough slub for my taste. Ovadia & Sons’ selections always look handsome, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them. Then there are vintage pieces from Ralph Lauren and Bijan, which are fantastic, but difficult to find. I come across maybe two or three a year, and I’m always on the lookout. 
The difference between those and the Knottery’s ties, assuming they’re like the grenadine I sampled, is that the Knottery’s are machine made and will probably be slightly beefier. On the other hand, they’re also much more affordable (about $100 less than most of the aforementioned companies). If you’re looking for an affordable raw silk tie, there’s probably nothing better than this. 
Update: Jay from The Knottery emailed to tell me they’ve switched factories and are now offering mostly handmade ties. A nice plus. 
(Sale found via Pete’s Twitter)

It’s (Sort of) On Sale: The Knottery’s Raw Silks

Speaking of raw silk ties, The Knottery now has a selection of them on their website. The regular retail price is $50, but they’re doing pre-orders for $38. The navy dotted one looks pretty versatile, and much better designed than the ones offered by Lands End last year. 

The other sources for raw silk neckwear (that I know of) are Drake’s, Vanda Fine ClothingPanta, Marshall Anthony, J. Press, Ovadia & Sons, vintage Ralph Lauren, and vintage Bijan. There may be a couple others out there, but the market isn’t big.

Drake’s, Vanda, and Panta are the nicest, but they retail between $120 and $150. Marshall Anthony’s are also excellent, and I find they sometimes knot better than my Drake’s. They use cheaper wool/ cotton blend interlinings, but since those interlinings are lighter in weight, they help balance out the thick fabric of the raw silk. 

J. Press’ raw silks are good, but often carry more sheen than I like, and not enough slub for my taste. Ovadia & Sons’ selections always look handsome, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them. Then there are vintage pieces from Ralph Lauren and Bijan, which are fantastic, but difficult to find. I come across maybe two or three a year, and I’m always on the lookout. 

The difference between those and the Knottery’s ties, assuming they’re like the grenadine I sampled, is that the Knottery’s are machine made and will probably be slightly beefier. On the other hand, they’re also much more affordable (about $100 less than most of the aforementioned companies). If you’re looking for an affordable raw silk tie, there’s probably nothing better than this. 

Update: Jay from The Knottery emailed to tell me they’ve switched factories and are now offering mostly handmade ties. A nice plus. 

(Sale found via Pete’s Twitter)

Real People: Finding Your “Voice”

Ethan Newton of The Armoury recently wrote a nice piece about finding one’s “voice” when it comes style, and it reminded me of Niyi in New York. Niyi is a bold dresser, often wearing things I’d never wear, and using them in a ways I’d never consider, but he’s also often pulling off looks that I admire. 

Above are two good examples. In the first photo, he’s wearing a tie I also happen to own. It’s a striped burgundy raw silk from Drake’s, which they sold a couple of years ago. When I wear mine, I pair it with a simple, light-blue, striped shirt and a conservative solid-tan sport coat. Niyi, on the other hand, is wearing his here with a dotted lime green shirt (!) and a more attention grabbing seersucker suit. 

In the second photo, he’s in a more somber, solid navy suit, but has enlivened the look with his choice in a tie and pocket square. The tie is actually from his own accessories line. It’s a navy cotton that’s been treated to a process called adire, a kind of hand-dyeing treatment developed by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Niyi himself is of Yoruba descent, and his men’s accessories line heavily reflects his heritage. You can check it out at his website and (soon) Sid Mashburn

I’ve always believed that you don’t have to share other people’s choices in clothing in order to appreciate their style. Niyi’s bold sense of dress reflects his personality as much as my conservative sensibilities reflect mine. It’s this diversity of dress, and pursuit to find one’s own “voice” as Ethan puts it, that makes dressing personal, social, and fun. 

Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection
If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 
To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 
The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 
Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 
(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection

If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 

To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 

The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 

Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 

(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

The Advantage of Unusual Designs in Pocket Squares

Like with ties, I find it’s easy to acquire more pocket square than you need. This is true for almost any accessory, really. As I mentioned before, accessories tend to be easier to size right, are relatively more affordable, and can satisfy that urge to buy something new. Before you know it, you have dozens of ties and pocket squares, and not nearly enough sport coats or suits to justify your collection.

In my time wearing pocket squares, I’ve come to realize that I mostly rely on just three types. The first is clean white linen, which I like to wear with everything except tweeds. Then there are madder silks, which I find to be useful in the fall and winter months. For some reason, those are a bit hard to find (especially in soft, muted colors), but Ralph Lauren sometimes stocks them.

Then there’s the third category, which I think is the most useful – squares with large, intricate designs of the kind that you’d never see in ties. The advantage of these is that you never run the risk of looking like you bought your tie and pocket square as part of a matching set (which you should never do, by the way). With a big, bold pattern – as opposed to something like pin dots – you can always be sure that your square will stand on its own, but still harmonize with whatever else you’re wearing through some complementary color. Plus, if you find something with the right square, you can get a bit more versatility by simply turning the square a bit here or there to show off the colors you want. That’s much hard to do if every inch of your square is essentially the same repeating pattern.

In recent years, the number of places where you can buy such squares has exploded. There are the standards, of course, in the form of Drake’s and Rubinacci, both of which produce beautiful pieces. You can purchase those directly through each brand’s shops, or through various online retailers such as No Man Walks Alone, A Suitable Wardrobe, Exquisite Trimmings, Malford of London, Mr. Porter, and our advertiser The Hanger Project. There are also a number of other operations worth considering:

Put This On: The first is of course our pocket square shop. Jesse finds vintage and deadstock fabrics from online sellers and thrift shops, and then has them handmade into pocket squares through a tailor in Los Angeles. That means having the edges handrolled with a nice plump edge, rather than something machined and flat.
Vanda Fine Clothing: Run by the newlywed couple Diana and Gerald, these two produce excellent high-end ties and pocket squares – all hand sewn by them in their workshop in Singapore. Recently, they came out with a series of Chinese zodiac squares, which add a bit of personalization for the wearer.
Ikire Jones: Ikire Jones is a relatively new company run by a finalist in one of Esquire’s “Best Dressed Real Man” competitions. The designer, Wale Oyejide, is a bold dresser with a strong sense of color. Whether you’re a conservative dresser such as myself, or more daring, I think his pocket squares are quite useful. I reviewed them here.
Christian Kimber: Christian has some refreshingly modern designs with abstracted shapes made to look like famous landmarks. At the moment, there are squares representing London, Melbourne, and Florence, but more cities will be released sometime this year.
P. Johnson Tailors: Like Christian Kimber, P. Johnson also produces designs with a slightly more modern sensibility. Their squares tend to have large swaths of color, so you might want to think about how you normally fold your square, lest you look like you’re wearing something that’s one solid color.
Kent Wang: Always a good source for more affordable options, Kent has printed more unique looking pocket squares in the last year. The only thing to watch out for is the size. I find that squares smaller than 15” x 15” feel a bit too insubstantial, although your taste may differ.

(Photos above by The SartorialistChristian KimberRubinacciMalford of LondonVanda Fine Clothing, and us)

Drake’s Pop Up Shop
C.H.C.M. is holding a Drake’s “Pop Up Shop” for five days, starting tomorrow. Drake’s neckwear, scarves, pocket squares, blankets, shirts, and knitwear will be available at discounts of up to 70% off. 
I can’t tell you the depth of my disappointment right now that I don’t live in New York City. 

Drake’s Pop Up Shop

C.H.C.M. is holding a Drake’s “Pop Up Shop” for five days, starting tomorrow. Drake’s neckwear, scarves, pocket squares, blankets, shirts, and knitwear will be available at discounts of up to 70% off. 

I can’t tell you the depth of my disappointment right now that I don’t live in New York City. 

It’s On Sale: Accessories at The Gentlemen’s Corner

The sale inventory at The Gentlemen’s Corner is a bit decimated at this point, but there are still some nice things left by quality companies such as Sozzi, Drake’s, and Calabrese. From Drake’s alone, there are lambswool gloves for $19.50, pocket squares for $33.64, scarves for $41.44, and neckties for $51.18.

The only problem? The shipping charge is a bit high, so if you’re only ordering one item, you might want to check the prices against Drake’s sale (don’t forget deductions for European taxes, which will be taken off at checkout). If you’re ordering more than one item, however, this could be a nice opportunity to get some quality accessories at lower prices. 

(Pictured above: some of the Drake’s ties still left)

It’s On Sale: Drake’s Accessories
While you’re trying to get through to Unionmade, here’s another popular retailer with a crashed sale page. Drake’s just started their fall/ winter sale, with discounts on select ties, scarves, and pocket squares. There may be more on discount as well … assuming you can get through. 
Also, note that if you’re outside of Western Europe, you’ll get another 20% deduction at checkout for not having to pay European taxes (which is included in the listed price).

It’s On Sale: Drake’s Accessories

While you’re trying to get through to Unionmade, here’s another popular retailer with a crashed sale page. Drake’s just started their fall/ winter sale, with discounts on select ties, scarves, and pocket squares. There may be more on discount as well … assuming you can get through. 

Also, note that if you’re outside of Western Europe, you’ll get another 20% deduction at checkout for not having to pay European taxes (which is included in the listed price).

Donegal Tweed Ties
As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.
The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.
Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.
There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.
Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 
(Picture via voxsart)

Donegal Tweed Ties

As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.

The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.

Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.

There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.

Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 

(Picture via voxsart)

It’s (always?) On Sale: Yoox
My favorite place to order Italian, Yoox, has cut prices further on a lot of items, putting a lot of really nice pieces at half retail or less (even considering Yoox’s occasionally inflated “retail” prices). Check out bargains on tailoring and outerwear from L.B.M. 1911, bicycle culture casual from Pedaled, soft Italian tailoring from Boglioli, unusual, texture-heavy fabrics from Barena, Drake’s scarves, Cote et Ciel accessories (I recommended their backpack awhile back), hard-to-find Filson Italy gear, Incotex group shirts from the regrettably named Glanshirt, good value shirts from Guy Rover, oddball Japanese old timiness from Haversack, very good prices on slim Incotex trousers, a single but very nice Nigel Cabourn jacket, more soft Italian tailoring from Piombo, Sartoria Partenopea's traditional Italian tailoring, a small selection of Tricker’s British shoes (I’d avoid their sneaker-styled models), Valstarino blousons, unusual Yuketen moccs and boots, and understated Zanone knitwear.
Pictured: Yoox’s giant Italian warehouse.
-Pete

It’s (always?) On Sale: Yoox

My favorite place to order Italian, Yoox, has cut prices further on a lot of items, putting a lot of really nice pieces at half retail or less (even considering Yoox’s occasionally inflated “retail” prices). Check out bargains on tailoring and outerwear from L.B.M. 1911, bicycle culture casual from Pedaled, soft Italian tailoring from Boglioli, unusual, texture-heavy fabrics from Barena, Drake’s scarves, Cote et Ciel accessories (I recommended their backpack awhile back), hard-to-find Filson Italy gear, Incotex group shirts from the regrettably named Glanshirt, good value shirts from Guy Rover, oddball Japanese old timiness from Haversack, very good prices on slim Incotex trousers, a single but very nice Nigel Cabourn jacket, more soft Italian tailoring from Piombo, Sartoria Partenopea's traditional Italian tailoring, a small selection of Tricker’s British shoes (I’d avoid their sneaker-styled models), Valstarino blousons, unusual Yuketen moccs and boots, and understated Zanone knitwear.

Pictured: Yoox’s giant Italian warehouse.

-Pete

New York City and London Sales
There are four big sales this month that might be of interest to our readers in New York City and London. 
In New York City, Ovadia & Sons and Isaia will be holding sample sales. Ovadia’s will be held at 155 Wooster Street #4 on Thursday, December 5th from 8:30am until 6pm, and Friday, December 6th, from 8:30am until 2pm. Isaia’s sample sale will be held at 225 5th Avenue, between 26th and 27th Street, December 10th until the 12th (10am until 7pm) and December 13th (10am until 1pm).
In London, Drake’s will be holding a holiday sale at their newly opened factory store from December 5th until the 7th. You can check it out at No. 3 Haberdasher Street (what a great address). Present will also be holding a big sale for all their previous seasons’ unsold inventory. That will be at 20th Century Theatre (291 Westbourne Grove on the corner of Portobello Road) on December 7th to December 9th. 
All four sales should have pretty hefty discounts, and might be worth checking out if you’re in the area. 
(Picture via Drake’s)

New York City and London Sales

There are four big sales this month that might be of interest to our readers in New York City and London. 

In New York City, Ovadia & Sons and Isaia will be holding sample sales. Ovadia’s will be held at 155 Wooster Street #4 on Thursday, December 5th from 8:30am until 6pm, and Friday, December 6th, from 8:30am until 2pm. Isaia’s sample sale will be held at 225 5th Avenue, between 26th and 27th Street, December 10th until the 12th (10am until 7pm) and December 13th (10am until 1pm).

In London, Drake’s will be holding a holiday sale at their newly opened factory store from December 5th until the 7th. You can check it out at No. 3 Haberdasher Street (what a great address). Present will also be holding a big sale for all their previous seasons’ unsold inventory. That will be at 20th Century Theatre (291 Westbourne Grove on the corner of Portobello Road) on December 7th to December 9th. 

All four sales should have pretty hefty discounts, and might be worth checking out if you’re in the area. 

(Picture via Drake’s)