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.

I talked yesterday about some lesser known summer fabrics, but let’s get back to basics for a moment. You know what makes summer truly great? Linen shirts. 

Seriously, I love linen shirts, and I’m always surprised by how few men wear them. Their gauzy, wrinkly nature adds a really nice texture and can give you a much more interesting casual look. Linen is also great for hot days. It has an airy, open weave that allows your skin to breathe and feel much cooler than it would under, say, oxford cloth. Additionally, since all their charm is in how they wrinkle, you don’t have to iron them. 

The classic linen shirt is the white collared button up. However, since you can’t bleach linen (as the harsh chemical really destroys the fibers), keeping a white linen shirt white can be a bit hard depending on your habits. White linen can also be very bright; if you’re a bit pale, it can visually wash you out. Thus, if you don’t think you can manage a white linen shirt, I’ve rounded up some other options for you. 

For simple basics, check out Brooks Brothers’ linen shirts. These come in a variety of interesting colors, my favorite of which is their light blue. They also have a dark blue version, which can look great with khaki chinos. J Crew has a similar dark blue model, and it fits slightly slimmer than Brooks Brothers. They also have the same shirt in bengal stripe and gingham. The fabric on J Crew’s is a bit heavier than some of the others I’m featuring here, which means the creasing that you’ll get isn’t as sharp. I prefer this, personally, as I think it makes the shirt look more rumpled than creased, but it’s a matter of taste. 

For something a slightly more than your basics, check out Our Legacy. They have a slightly worn looking striped linen shirt that has a bit of old world Western European feel to it. Boden also has some interesting plaids and stripes, as well a linen “grandad” shirt, which is basically a kind of linen henley. It’s a bit more unique looking, but I think would still make for a great casual piece this summer. 

Lastly, a word about marketing. As you shop for linen shirts, you may notice some brands, such as J Crew, heavily market theirs as being “Irish linen.” Now, linen is to Ireland what cashmere is to Scotland, but this doesn’t mean that linens from other countries aren’t as good. Plus, being labeled Irish linen just means the fabric was woven in Ireland; the material doesn’t necessarily have to be milled there. The term is mostly a marketing ploy, so you should be wary. In the end, the most important thing is for you to see how the linen wrinkles, and whether you’re comfortable with the fabric.

If you’re on the fence about wearing a “wrinkled shirt,” I recommend just going into a store and trying one on. You may find you actually like it, and after getting used it all summer, you’ll lament the coming of the fall season, when you have to go back to your poplins and oxfords. 

It’s On Sale
Linen Kennebunk Suit Separates
Blazer $99.50, Pants $57 at LL Bean Signature
(Thanks, Nicholas!)

It’s On Sale

Linen Kennebunk Suit Separates

Blazer $99.50, Pants $57 at LL Bean Signature

(Thanks, Nicholas!)

STYLE CELEBRITIES: THEY’RE JUST LIKE YOU!
THEIR MOMS HAVE GARDENS.
THEY GO TO WEDDINGS.
THEIR WIFE INSISTS THEY TAKE A PICTURE OF THEIR OUTFIT BECAUSE THEY LOOK SO HANDSOME AND THEY SHOULD “SHOW IT TO THEIR INTERNET FRIENDS.” 

STYLE CELEBRITIES: THEY’RE JUST LIKE YOU!

  • THEIR MOMS HAVE GARDENS.
  • THEY GO TO WEDDINGS.
  • THEIR WIFE INSISTS THEY TAKE A PICTURE OF THEIR OUTFIT BECAUSE THEY LOOK SO HANDSOME AND THEY SHOULD “SHOW IT TO THEIR INTERNET FRIENDS.” 
Jamison is the founder of the wonderful clothing company Howard Yount, and as ever he is the very model of relaxed elegance.  Another in our growing list of lovely summer looks.  Again, just a simple, solid-colored linen sportcoat, no tie, a practical hat and a good fit.

Jamison is the founder of the wonderful clothing company Howard Yount, and as ever he is the very model of relaxed elegance.  Another in our growing list of lovely summer looks.  Again, just a simple, solid-colored linen sportcoat, no tie, a practical hat and a good fit.

Another wonderfully put-together hot weather look, this time from Andrew in Atlanta.  The palette here is very simple - khaki and blue.  Looks like a linen jacket (and a lovely one at that).  I think the cool tones in the upper half of the body are a nice, calming summer look.  They also calm down the bow tie, which is nice.

Another wonderfully put-together hot weather look, this time from Andrew in Atlanta.  The palette here is very simple - khaki and blue.  Looks like a linen jacket (and a lovely one at that).  I think the cool tones in the upper half of the body are a nice, calming summer look.  They also calm down the bow tie, which is nice.

Here’s an Italian gentleman looking sharp, courtesy of The Sartorialist.
It’s becoming summer in Italy - why does this guy look so at home in this suit?
First of all, it’s linen.  Linen, even in heavier weights, stays cool in the heat.  It can rumple, which in some cases make it inappropriate for business, but that also gives it a lived-in quality which can be quite wonderful.  I think that quality is part of why he looks so at-home in this outfit.
Brown is an unusual color choice for a guy with silver hair, but this particular brown compliments his olive complexion quite nicely.  If he had less color in his skin, it wouldn’t look nearly as nice.
In terms of seasonality, I’d guess that his shoes are a lighter brown, not unlike the briefcase in his hand.  As Will pointed out today, lighter browns are more suitable to the warmer months.  In this case, the case (and the shirt & tie) brighten things up a bit.
This is a gentleman I would be happy to meet, and would certainly be happy to do business with.

Here’s an Italian gentleman looking sharp, courtesy of The Sartorialist.

It’s becoming summer in Italy - why does this guy look so at home in this suit?

First of all, it’s linen.  Linen, even in heavier weights, stays cool in the heat.  It can rumple, which in some cases make it inappropriate for business, but that also gives it a lived-in quality which can be quite wonderful.  I think that quality is part of why he looks so at-home in this outfit.

Brown is an unusual color choice for a guy with silver hair, but this particular brown compliments his olive complexion quite nicely.  If he had less color in his skin, it wouldn’t look nearly as nice.

In terms of seasonality, I’d guess that his shoes are a lighter brown, not unlike the briefcase in his hand.  As Will pointed out today, lighter browns are more suitable to the warmer months.  In this case, the case (and the shirt & tie) brighten things up a bit.

This is a gentleman I would be happy to meet, and would certainly be happy to do business with.

Q and Answer: Old Navy
Devine writes: I wish I had a higher-fashion question here, but this morning, a utility quandary presented itself. I found an old $50 Old Navy gift card this morning while cleaning off my dresser, and while I’m not into their clothes, $50 is $50.  I’m thinking of using it for undershirts/boxers, but I figured I’d ask — are there any surprises there worth spending (already spent) money on?
Your instinct, to go undershirts-and-boxers, is not off-base.  We have one more idea to add to the mix, though: linen.
It’s not quite linen season in your local Old Navy - that’ll come in March and April or so - but summer shirts are the perfect thing to buy from the Gap’s shittier cousin.  The past couple of years, Old Navy’s cuts for summer shirts have been decent, and linen should have a little looseness anyway.  When you’re only paying $29.50 or $39.50, you won’t feel too bad when you spill some of that strawberry daiquiri on the front and have to go nuclear on that thing in the wash.  Get yourself a white long-sleeved linen shirt, with as little adornment as possible, and wear that mf’er every week all summer long.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get invited to an awesome tropical party at Diddy’s house.
If you have a Q for us to Answer, email us at contact@putthison.com.

Q and Answer: Old Navy

Devine writes: I wish I had a higher-fashion question here, but this morning, a utility quandary presented itself. I found an old $50 Old Navy gift card this morning while cleaning off my dresser, and while I’m not into their clothes, $50 is $50.  I’m thinking of using it for undershirts/boxers, but I figured I’d ask — are there any surprises there worth spending (already spent) money on?

Your instinct, to go undershirts-and-boxers, is not off-base.  We have one more idea to add to the mix, though: linen.

It’s not quite linen season in your local Old Navy - that’ll come in March and April or so - but summer shirts are the perfect thing to buy from the Gap’s shittier cousin.  The past couple of years, Old Navy’s cuts for summer shirts have been decent, and linen should have a little looseness anyway.  When you’re only paying $29.50 or $39.50, you won’t feel too bad when you spill some of that strawberry daiquiri on the front and have to go nuclear on that thing in the wash.  Get yourself a white long-sleeved linen shirt, with as little adornment as possible, and wear that mf’er every week all summer long.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get invited to an awesome tropical party at Diddy’s house.

If you have a Q for us to Answer, email us at contact@putthison.com.

Q and Answer: Hippie Wedding

Michael writes: I am getting married in August, and my partner and I are having trouble finding non-formal attire for me to wear. The wedding is on a small island off the coast of Vancouver known for it’s hippy-dippy ways (not that we’re too hippy-dippy ourselves). Do you have any sartorial recommendations for something that will look good without being formal? Right now we just know that we’ll both be wearing Cydwoq shoes.

Sometimes someone writes to us and I’m frankly not sure if they’re making fun of me… or at the very least trying to provoke me.

Speaking of which: a good way to provoke me is to trick me into googling “Cydwoq shoes.” It’s sort of like asking Tommy Lasorda his opinion of Kingman’s performance.

So rather than rising to the bait, I will pretend the last sentence of this email DOES NOT EXIST.  Because I am not a hornet’s nest to be prodded with a stick for your amusement.  Blocking from my memory the appearance of those horrible shoes has come surprisingly easily, though I expect only years of therapy will correct my post-traumatic stress.

As for what you can wear to an informal wedding in August, how about a linen suit?  Looks like Vancouver is usually in the mid-70s that time of year, and linen will be plenty cool enough, and give you the rumpled, natural appearance that hippies love so very much.  The coat will also protect you in case of a cool spell.  There’s no need for a tie, just a nice white shirt and a nice linen suit.

So, now that your clothes are sorted out, start worrying about your officiant.

Style Gods
A cream linen suit from the estate of the Duke of Windsor.  Not much of a king, but a great, great dresser.  Clothing from his estate goes on auction December 8th at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London.
via A Suitable Wardrobe

Style Gods

A cream linen suit from the estate of the Duke of Windsor.  Not much of a king, but a great, great dresser.  Clothing from his estate goes on auction December 8th at Kerry Taylor Auctions in London.

via A Suitable Wardrobe