The Soft Silk Knit
For as long as I’ve been buying silk knit ties, I’ve always preferred the crunchy variety - the kind where if you squeeze the tie in your hand, the silk material feels a bit “crunchy” as it rubs against itself. I like these for their heavier weight, as the tie doesn’t flop around as much, and for their more distinctive visual texture. You can find them on the high-end at Drake’s, but the best bang-for-you-buck might be from Land’s End. Those retail at $60, but it’s not uncommon to see them go for ~$30 during one of their many sales. 
Some months ago, however, I came across this photo of Dr. Keith Churchwell. Here, he’s seen wearing a brown hat, light blue shirt, Russell plaid jacket, and a burgundy soft-knit tie. The softer knit tie seems so much better suited to an autumnal ensemble, much like how a wool tie would be a better here than any of your basic silks. So, I’ve been hunting for a good soft knit to try out. 
Luckily, it’s easier to find soft knits than crunchy ones. Many the more traditional American clothiers will carry them, such as O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, and J. Press. For something more affordable, there’s The Knottery. In addition to silk, there are also ones made from wool, cashmere, and alpaca blends. Our friend Will at A Suitable Wardrobe has some cashmere ones on sale, and Brooks Brothers just came out with these Donegals. I may just try one of these options out this fall. 
Incidentally, the photo above was taken by Rose Callahan, who has two upcoming events for new her book I Am Dandy. The first is on November 7th from 6-8pm at the Fine and Dandy shop in New York City, and the second is on November 18th from 6-8pm at the National Arts Club (also in New York City). The second will double as the opening reception for a weeklong exhibition of prints by our friend Rose. If you’re in town, stop by and tell her we said hi. 

The Soft Silk Knit

For as long as I’ve been buying silk knit ties, I’ve always preferred the crunchy variety - the kind where if you squeeze the tie in your hand, the silk material feels a bit “crunchy” as it rubs against itself. I like these for their heavier weight, as the tie doesn’t flop around as much, and for their more distinctive visual texture. You can find them on the high-end at Drake’s, but the best bang-for-you-buck might be from Land’s End. Those retail at $60, but it’s not uncommon to see them go for ~$30 during one of their many sales. 

Some months ago, however, I came across this photo of Dr. Keith Churchwell. Here, he’s seen wearing a brown hat, light blue shirt, Russell plaid jacket, and a burgundy soft-knit tie. The softer knit tie seems so much better suited to an autumnal ensemble, much like how a wool tie would be a better here than any of your basic silks. So, I’ve been hunting for a good soft knit to try out. 

Luckily, it’s easier to find soft knits than crunchy ones. Many the more traditional American clothiers will carry them, such as O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, and J. Press. For something more affordable, there’s The Knottery. In addition to silk, there are also ones made from wool, cashmere, and alpaca blends. Our friend Will at A Suitable Wardrobe has some cashmere ones on sale, and Brooks Brothers just came out with these Donegals. I may just try one of these options out this fall. 

Incidentally, the photo above was taken by Rose Callahan, who has two upcoming events for new her book I Am Dandy. The first is on November 7th from 6-8pm at the Fine and Dandy shop in New York City, and the second is on November 18th from 6-8pm at the National Arts Club (also in New York City). The second will double as the opening reception for a weeklong exhibition of prints by our friend Rose. If you’re in town, stop by and tell her we said hi. 

The Most Versatile Knit Tie

Jake over at Wax Wane already wrote about black silk knit ties this week, but I thought I’d give them another plug anyway. Black is, unexpectedly, one of the most versatile colors for knit ties. Better than the standard go-to colors for neckwear, such as brown, burgundy, and bottle green. Better even than the always wearable navy. The black silk knit was perhaps most famously worn by the literary version of James Bond, who was often described by Ian Fleming as wearing a dark suit, clean white shirt, and a “thin, black silk knitted tie.” It’s also heavily associated with other mid-century icons such as the fellas in The Rat Pack. In fact, one of the first ties I bought as an undergraduate student was a black silk knit, precisely because I thought Sammy Davis Jr. looked so great in them.

You can wear almost anything with a black silk knit tie: brown tweeds, navy jackets, or grey suits paired with white or light blue shirts in solids, stripes, or checks (knit ties are especially nice with checks). Given that many men today want to wear a tie without looking too formal, the black silk knit is about as good as you can get. Versatile in color; casual in form.

There are many places to score one. On the high-end, we have Drake’s, who makes them in a rather unique weave. They’re also commonly found at traditional American haberdasheries, such as Ben SilverBrooks Brothers, and J. Press (the last of which is having a 25% off sale right now). Additionally, Howard YountKent Wang, and Sid Mashburn sell them for between $60 and $75. For more affordable options, consider Land’s End and KJ Beckett. The stock at Land’s End doesn’t include black right now, but they regularly restock their knit tie inventory in wide range of colors and their navy blue’s more like a midnight blue. If you join their mailing list, you’ll be notified of when they do their 30-40% off sales (which happens a few times a season). That will knock down the price of their knit ties to something around $25. Not bad for a tie you can wear with almost anything. 

Q and Answer: Can I Wear a Tie and a Button-Down Collar?
Matthew asks: I’ll often wear a knit tie with a button-down collar.  I figure, a casual tie for a casual shirt.  But I can’t find much of a consensus on wearing other ties with one.  What are your thoughts on the particulars of ties with button-down shirts?
Here’s the short answer: yes, you can wear a tie with a button-down collar.
The longer answer, as it always does, has a bit more complication.
The button-down collar is a particularly American style. The oxford-cloth button-down is so beloved that in menswear circles it’s become known simply as the OCBD. The collar, originally invented for sport, has become the definitive shirt style for both casual and more formal dress in the United States. Just because it’s a genuine icon, though, doesn’t make it appropriate for every situation.
There is, of course, a heirarchy of formality in shirts. Speaking generally, double cuffs are more formal than single cuffs. Collars grow more formal as their spread widens. Fabrics with harder finishes are more formal than those with softer finishes. Button-down oxfords are the most informal of all. Still, we live in an era where half of the covers of GQ magazine feature men wearing skinny ties with plaid sport shirts, so there’s still plenty of room for the tie-and-button-down combination.
If you live outside the United States, wearing a tie with a button-down collar may be affectedly American, or even inappropriate. I certainly wouldn’t do it if I worked at a London financial services company, for example. Of course, I wouldn’t likely wear a button-down collar much if I lived outside the United States, so it simply wouldn’t come up.
Inside the United States, I think your instincts are absolutely correct. I tend to wear a button-down casually. They pair well with sportcoats, especially casual, texture-y ones, and they look great with knit ties and bows. In fact, I generally prefer button-down collars with both of those tie styles.
The more American your aesthetic, the further you can push this - if you buy all your clothes at J. Press and wear nothing but sack suits, like George H.W. Bush, you can wear a button-down in almost any situation. If you’re of the Anglophilic persuasion, or tend to wear Italian styles, they’re not particularly suitable, even with a blazer or loud checked coat.
If you want to wear a button-down collar with a suit, you’re entering dangerous territory. Above is a famous photograph of Cary Grant in a button-down and suit. It’s a picture that often comes up when people argue about the subject of whether the two are an acceptable pairing. Cary Grant looks great, so as a general rule, I’d say that if you’re Cary Grant, you can wear a button-down with a suit. I’ll also make an exception for the kind of dyed-in-the-wool trads who have sworn a blood oath against suit darts and dress every day like they were going to a meeting at the Dean’s Office at Harvard in 1964. And heck, while I’m at it, I’ll make an exception for the most casual of suits - corduroy.
For all us normals, though, it’s almost never a good move. The best case scenario is that you’ll make it to the level of the inoffensive dress of an insurance conference attendee from Dubuque. The worst case scenario is that you’ll fall short, and end up at the offensive dress of an insurance conference attendee from Dubuque. It’s really not worth the risk.

Q and Answer: Can I Wear a Tie and a Button-Down Collar?

Matthew asks: I’ll often wear a knit tie with a button-down collar.  I figure, a casual tie for a casual shirt.  But I can’t find much of a consensus on wearing other ties with one.  What are your thoughts on the particulars of ties with button-down shirts?

Here’s the short answer: yes, you can wear a tie with a button-down collar.

The longer answer, as it always does, has a bit more complication.

The button-down collar is a particularly American style. The oxford-cloth button-down is so beloved that in menswear circles it’s become known simply as the OCBD. The collar, originally invented for sport, has become the definitive shirt style for both casual and more formal dress in the United States. Just because it’s a genuine icon, though, doesn’t make it appropriate for every situation.

There is, of course, a heirarchy of formality in shirts. Speaking generally, double cuffs are more formal than single cuffs. Collars grow more formal as their spread widens. Fabrics with harder finishes are more formal than those with softer finishes. Button-down oxfords are the most informal of all. Still, we live in an era where half of the covers of GQ magazine feature men wearing skinny ties with plaid sport shirts, so there’s still plenty of room for the tie-and-button-down combination.

If you live outside the United States, wearing a tie with a button-down collar may be affectedly American, or even inappropriate. I certainly wouldn’t do it if I worked at a London financial services company, for example. Of course, I wouldn’t likely wear a button-down collar much if I lived outside the United States, so it simply wouldn’t come up.

Inside the United States, I think your instincts are absolutely correct. I tend to wear a button-down casually. They pair well with sportcoats, especially casual, texture-y ones, and they look great with knit ties and bows. In fact, I generally prefer button-down collars with both of those tie styles.

The more American your aesthetic, the further you can push this - if you buy all your clothes at J. Press and wear nothing but sack suits, like George H.W. Bush, you can wear a button-down in almost any situation. If you’re of the Anglophilic persuasion, or tend to wear Italian styles, they’re not particularly suitable, even with a blazer or loud checked coat.

If you want to wear a button-down collar with a suit, you’re entering dangerous territory. Above is a famous photograph of Cary Grant in a button-down and suit. It’s a picture that often comes up when people argue about the subject of whether the two are an acceptable pairing. Cary Grant looks great, so as a general rule, I’d say that if you’re Cary Grant, you can wear a button-down with a suit. I’ll also make an exception for the kind of dyed-in-the-wool trads who have sworn a blood oath against suit darts and dress every day like they were going to a meeting at the Dean’s Office at Harvard in 1964. And heck, while I’m at it, I’ll make an exception for the most casual of suits - corduroy.

For all us normals, though, it’s almost never a good move. The best case scenario is that you’ll make it to the level of the inoffensive dress of an insurance conference attendee from Dubuque. The worst case scenario is that you’ll fall short, and end up at the offensive dress of an insurance conference attendee from Dubuque. It’s really not worth the risk.

Nine Solid Ties & How to Wear Them

For the elegantly dressed man, a solid necktie can be an elegant way to ground a complex shirt, jacket, or both. Solid neckties are a playground for a too-often ignored element of men’s style: texture. There are many types of solid ties, so I thought I’d give you a rundown on ten of the most popular.

Follow along in the photos above: left to right, top to bottom. Click to enlarge.

  1. Twill. This is perhaps the most popular form of solid tie. It gets its texture from a weave common in many ties. It’s characterized by a pronounced series of diagonal ribs - like the texture of denim. Look for a twill with a distinct and pronounced texture for maximum impact.
  2. Grenadine. The grenadine tie is a complex weave which creates a beautiful variegated texture. There are two types - garza grossa and garza fina. If your Italian’s up to snuff, you know that simply means large weave and fine weave. The grenadine is one of the most versatile neckties you can own - the solid color makes it easy to wear, the texture gives it visual interest.
  3. Basketweave. The basketweave sold tie is usually easily found as well. It uses a weave similar to an oxford shirt. Sometimes, as in an oxford shirt, it features two colors, as in the example above, which features navy and midnight blue. Style aficionados generally prefer the grenadine, which simply has a more dynamic, interesting texture.
  4. Satin. Satin ties have a hard, shiny finish which make them perfect for evening wear. It contrasts well with softer wools, like flannels. That shininess can make them appear cheap in the harsh light of day, though. They’re also tainted by what you might call the Regis Factor - their association with the late 90s trend of matching solid satin tie to colored shirt. Still, a black or navy satin tie can add a luxurious touch to nighttime dress.
  5. Tussah, Shantung, Raw & Textured Silks. This group of ties features a nubbly, uneven surface. This isn’t achieved through a particular weave, but rather through texture in the fibers being woven. There are a variety of regional variations on this same idea which all go by different names. Because of their rough surface, they lend a more casual air, and their texture contrasts pleasantly with both hard and soft-finished jackets. Like the grenadine, they’ve long been a go-to for the very stylish, but even more than the grenadine, they can be tough to find.
  6. Knits. Often grenadine ties in particularly are confused with knits, but they’re two different beasts. I’m not a textile engineer, but knitting and weaving are very different processes. Suffice it to say that knitting involves looping a single thread, and weaving involves crossing a piece of thread over and other many others. Knit ties are typically unlined, and have a soft, springy hand and usually a square bottom. (That’s because it’s tough to knit a triangle.) Knits are very casual, and are a great pairing with sportcoats. Their popularity has tracked with traditional American “Ivy” style - with heydays in the 1960s, 1980s and today.
  7. Jacquard. Beginning in the 19th century, automated looms could generate complex patterns in their weaving. Today, computerized looms can do just about everything, and they sometimes do. Jacquard ties feature patterns or graphics woven into the tie, usually with contrasting satin and matte threads. As with solid satin ties, they’re best left for the evening. They can be quite lovely, but be careful - you run the risk of looking like a sofa.
  8. Linen. Like raw silk, linen ties feature the fabric’s natural nubby texture. They’re a wonderful compliment to complex summer jacketings. They’re seasonal, though, so keep them in the warm-weather months. Like knits, they’re also relatively casual.
  9. Wool. We’re big boosters of wool ties in the winter months, when their texture reflects the coziness you desire in the cold. Like linen, they’re very seasonal. Also like linen, they’re relatively informal, though not quite to the same extent.

We often preach the gospel of simplicity here at Put This On, and solid ties are a wonderful means to that end. By trading pattern for texture, you can achieve stunning results - the understated elegance all men should be shooting for in their dress.

In Praise of Green Ties

Like my buddy Doc Hu, I’m a big fan of green ties. Pair them with a gray suit and dark brown shoes, and you’ll be one of the most uniquely and elegantly dressed men around. You can also wear a green tie with any number of country tweeds, especially those with big checks and windowpanes, or shirts with a similar country sensibility, such as brushed twill tattersalls. Ideally, if you wear something with checks, it would be good to have one of the minor colors in those checks also be green, so that you can play off the color in your tie. 

Unfortunately, most men don’t have any green ties. If you’re just getting your first, start with the basics - grenadines and knits. On the high end, there is Drakes of London’s kelly green grenadines and tartan green knits. Those will be some of the best on the market, but at $150, not everyone can spare the money. Much more affordable are Sam Hober’s green grenadines, which he has in four different shades, and come in garza grossa and garza fina. The difference between the two varieties is in how evident the weaving is; garza grossa is bigger and garza fina is finer. I have a strong preference for garza grossa, but it’s a matter of preference. Hober’s ties are custom made and cost $80. The quality is remarkable and gives up nothing to other high-end labels. In fact, as you can see from this picture, Hober’s ties are often better than some of luxury-end ties. While both are handmade, Hober’s looks more cleanly made while the Borrelli has a bit of crinkling at the tip. 

For an affordable green knit, check out Mountain and Sackett. It’s made from a nice crunchy silk and is respectable width of 2.5 inches - nothing too wide or too narrow. I have the tie myself and the quality is excellent. 

I think green ties can be worn year-round, as long as it’s paired with the right items, but it’s especially nice for the Fall season. Since that’s approaching, if you already have items such as a grey suit, consider getting a green tie for yourself before September arrives. 

(Photo credits: top photo by Ethan Desu for The Armoury; bottom left photo by Kenneth Lim for The Armoury, bottom right photo by an unknown photographer)

The Necktie Series, Part IV: Expanding your collection 

Yesterday, I talked about the bare bones of a minimal tie collection. Today, I’ll talk about how to expand from there. 

Knit ties

I considered putting knit ties in yesterday’s post, as they’re a strong enough staple. However, today’s post is about ties for specific functions, while yesterday’s are more all-purpose. In that sense, knit ties belong here, as they serve the function of being a casual necktie. It just so happens that men are so commonly in casual situations that a knit is probably going to be one of your more used pieces. 

There are essentially three different types of knits: softer silks, crunchy silks, and wool. What you choose is purely a matter of preference. Any of these will help you play to the middle of the casual to formal spectrum and, like grenadines, help add some texture to your wardrobe.  

Prince of Wales, Shepard’s checks, or houndstooths

Next, you will need a tie for formal events that aren’t black tie (which nobody properly throws nowadays anyway). If the dots on your pin dot tie are sufficiently small enough, it will be fine for formal function. Otherwise, you need some kind of checked tie. I recommend a Prince of Wales check (also known as a glen plaid), Shepard’s check, or houndstooth. These will work well for things such as weddings. Get them in an elegant color combination, drawn from colors such as black, gray, white, navy, and cream.

Seasonal ties: wool and linen

I’m a big fan of dressing to seasons. Heavy cashmere trousers with boots during the fall and winter seasons; tropical wool trousers with loafers in the spring and summer. As such, I strongly believe that you should have some seasonal ties. Wool ties for fall and winter, and linen ties for the spring and summer. Like everything else you’ve seen thus far, start with discrete patterns such as slight checks and stripes. 

Ancient madders

I used to think ancient madders were for old men, but I’ve since gotten some sense. When done well, they are the mark of a man who knows how to truly dress well - beyond just getting solid colored ties with textures. 

Ancient madders have paisley or geometric designs, and typically come in dusty colors such as mustard yellow, matte jade green, and faded indigo blue. These patterns are printed on a special gum-twill silk, which, when combined with the madder dye, have a chalk hand (soft but powdery feeling). I find that they’re somewhat seasonal, like the linen and wool ties, and mainly feel right in the fall. It’s not as versatile as some of the other ties I’ve talked about, but when it feels right, it feels really right. 

As for where to get these ties, my recommendations are the same from last time, so check my last installment.

Lands End is having a pretty nice sale right now. 30% off everything, and free shipping, with promotion code FAMILYSHARE (pin 6319 4422).

That means you can get their storm jacket for $25, striped ties for $17.50, and deluxe attache for $42 (they also have a smaller model for $28). Browse through their overstock section for other really good deals, but remember to size down on all of their apparel; they fit big. 

As for me? I picked up one of their knit ties for $21. It’s labeled as a narrow tie, but knit ties are typically much narrower. Since this one  measures 2.75”, it’s actually a fairly wide knit tie, which I’ve been really feeling lately. Consider it a Mad Men antidote. 

The promotion ends today, so get on it. 

It’s On eBay
Three Brooks Brothers Makers Knit Ties
$44.99 Buy It Now

It’s On eBay

Three Brooks Brothers Makers Knit Ties

$44.99 Buy It Now

oroszpeter
A wonderfully architect-y shirt and tie combination from Sir Norman Foster.  An example of the classic English style - solid suit, simple tie, loud shirt.

oroszpeter

A wonderfully architect-y shirt and tie combination from Sir Norman Foster.  An example of the classic English style - solid suit, simple tie, loud shirt.

It’s On Sale
Navy and White Knit Tie
$55 from $65 at Howard Yount

It’s On Sale

Navy and White Knit Tie

$55 from $65 at Howard Yount