Ties for Fall

The first photo above has haunted me ever since I first saw it at 13th and Wolf. It’s what I would consider the perfect fall tie. The colors are warm, the pattern is simple but interesting, and the wool fabric gives the tie a nice, soft appearance. Together, these characteristics make it the perfect expression of fall. 

While we may never own a tie so ideal, there are some great ties to take advantage of this season. Here are seven types that you should consider:

  • Most of your seasonal ties for fall should be made (at least in part) out wool. These can come in many forms - wool challis, wool flannel, tweed, etc. Challis is a plain weave that feels supple and lightweight; flannel will have a soft, brushed nap; and tweed will be a bit rougher. Like with silk ties, a solid color can work well if the fabric has a bit of texture to it (eg brushed flannel). For something slightly more interesting, you can also get a plain colored tie, but one with a slightly mottled weave or herringbone pattern. My favorites, however, are wool ties with small geometric patterns, stripes, or checks such as windowpanes. A number of tweed ties also come speckled, which can be interesting. 
  • Like wool ties, cashmere ties also make for excellent fall staples. Since the material is more luxurious, they will typically cost a bit more than wool, however. Since they’re softer, they also don’t typically wear as well.
  • Another traditional fall tie is the ancient madder. Ancient madder ties are distinguished by their muted hues, traditional patterns (often with paisleys) and their soft, matte finish. You’ll find beautifully deep, soft, matte colorings, such as mustard yellow, jade green, and indigo blue. They’re produced on a special “gum” silk, and when handled, they have a hefty, chalky hand similar to fine suede. They can come in paisley or any number of small, geometric designs.
  • I had a phase once where I went a little tartan crazy. Now I find that with the exception of black watch, it’s hard to wear tartan ties. However, one thing they go excellently with is a tweed jacket. It makes sense given how popular the two are in Scotland. If you own a tweed jacket, I don’t recommend you go out and buy ten tartan ties like I did, but maybe buy one. 
  • Your regular run of woven silk ties can still feel seasonal. Just keep your colors autumnal - burgundy, chocolate, hunter green, and pale gold are all good colors to stand by. 

So where to buy some of these ties? My favorite shops are Drake’s (pictured above), Sam Hober, Paul Stuart, Ralph Lauren, and J Press. Additionally, some excellent options are available at Howard Yount, Mountain and Sackett, and Ovadia and Sons. For those looking for something more affordable, Land’s End also has a couple of handsome wools for between $50 and $60.

Finally, note that seasonal ties aren’t a necessity. You can still obviously wear your regular rotation of silk ties - grenadines and knits are still great ties to wear regardless of the season. It’s just that having a seasonal touch here and there can be fun, and the above are good options to consider.  

The Necktie Series, Part III: Starting Your Basics

In my estimation, a well dressed man needs at least a dozen or two neckties. A dozen if he doesn’t wear ties often; two dozen if he does. The next three entries to this series are about how to build that basic, minimal necktie wardrobe. I’ll begin with the bare basics:

Solid grenadine

Jesse has given a lot of great advice here over the years. One of his best is his constant advocation for grenadines

There are two kinds of grenadines - garza grossa and garza fina. Garza grossa is a looser, bigger weave, and the silk slightly moves over time. Garza fina, on the other hand, looks a bit finer, and the weave is a bit tighter. Both will give you the texture you need in a simple tie, but grossa’s will be more apparent from a distance. 

J Press grenadines are garza finas, and Kent Wang’s are garza grossas. Drakes of London and Sam Hober sell both. 

Solid, ribbed faille or basketweave

The other plain basic is your slightly ribbed silk failles and basketweaves. These works like your grenadines - simple, easy to wear ties that add just a touch of texture to your wardrobe. Their textures aren’t as striking as a grenadine’s, but they’re still noticeable from about an arm’s length. Jesse and GW have commented on the value of a simple necktie collection, and ribbed silk failles and basketweaves serve this purpose well. 

Pin dot

Next we have pin dots, which have become some of my favorites. Like many of the other ties on this list, pin dot ties can vary in scale, from minidots to slightly larger dots. Slightly smaller, more subtle patterns are best in this case, as they tend to be a bit more elegant and versatile. 

Club tie 

Finally, we have the club tie. Sometime in 1880, faculty members at Oxford University started taking the ribbons from their straw hats and wearing it around their neck (why, I have no idea). Soon, the practice was copied at other prestigious institutions, and the style was eventually picked up by the middleclasses in order signal their social standing. These days, the stripes and colors don’t really signal much, though there are exceptions - your favorite menswear website, for example, has a club tie, and it’ll signal that you’re part of a small, elite group of men who actually know how to dress themselves. 

Club ties can come in block or ribbon stripes, and like the garza grossas and garza finas, which you pick is completely up to you. 

Where to buy ties

As for where to buy these ties from, some of the best are by E. Marinella, Nicky of Milan, Isaia, Charvet, E&G Cappelli, and Drakes of London. I also really like Ralph Lauren Purple Label ties, but it might be because I’m a whore for Ralph Lauren’s higher end stuff. Ties from these makers are handmade from the best fabrics. They drape, as well as knot, beautifully. However, they’re also pretty expensive - ranging between $150 and $250 per tie. You can sometimes find them on sale at Saks or Barneys, but you have to wait and hunt. 

One of the best deals on the market is Sam Hober, a bespoke tie maker who handmakes all of his wares. What is the advantage of a bespoke tie? With bespoke, the maker pours his effort into one tie just for a customer, which allows him to supervise and ensure all the details of the tie construction are done well. Examine, for example, the qualitative difference between these two luxury ties - the blue one is a bespoke unlined seven-fold by Sam Hober and the brown is an off-the-rack by Borrelli. Notice the quality of the sewing, lack of crinkling, and softer rolling edges on Hober’s tie. It’s incredible to me that he’s able to offer the quality and service he does at the prices he gives.

Other nice handmade ties can be had through Kent Wang, Howard Yount, and Panta. Like Hober, these will also run between $75 and $100, and they’re very nice. You can read Jesse’s glowing review of his Panta ties here. You can also check out J PressBrooks Brothers, Mountain and Sackett, and, of lesser quality, but still decent, Lands End. Lastly, StyleForum member gshen, who has been a popular pocket square supplier, has started hand-making ties. I haven’t had the chance to handle any, but from the photos and reviews I’ve seen so far, they look great. You can read more about them on his blog

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz over raw silk ties. I’m a big, big fan. However, almost without exception, all of the good ones are made by Drakes of London, who seems to be the only producer of slubby versions. To me, the slubs are what give raw silk ties their true charm. Unfortunately, while Drakes is undoubtably one of the best tie makers in the world, they cost about $150 per tie, which can  be too expensive for many men. 

Fortunately for you, I’ve found a reasonable alternative. Mountain and Sackett has two ties made out of English noile silk. The company has a nice shot of the two ties on their homepage. I have the brick red one and really like it. 

As I’ll explain later this week, raw silks are often taken from cocoons where the silk worm has been allowed to chew through. In a typical silk production, silk worms are killed while they’re still in the cocoon, so that a single thread of silk can be drawn out. When the silk is taken from a cocoon with a hole in it, the fibers tend to be much shorter, which can result in a rougher hand.

Noile silks are similar. These are the short fibers left after silk has been combed through or spun. When this material is woven, the fabric ends up being nubby and has flecks of color throughout the yarn. It actually looks so similar to raw silk that it’s often mistaken for it. The only difference is that it’s a bit more matte and lacks the sheen of traditional silk. One could probably describe it as a “cotton looking version of raw silk.” 

Thus, Mountain and Sackett’s noile silk tie a really great option if you’re looking for a raw silk-esque tie at an affordable price. It’s not a slubby as Drake’s, but it’s certainly more slubby than J Press’ raw silks, and priced at about 50% less of each. Its lack of sheen also makes it feel a bit more casual and even ideal for summer wear.

Lastly, just as a note, I think Mountain and Sackett is one of the best kept secrets out there, which is strange because they exhibit all the things menswear enthusiasts care about. The company is over 50 years old, based in New York, and produces completely handmade goods in the US (except for their knit ties, which are made in Italy). These ties knot and drape beautifully. I get as nice of a dimple on my Mountain and Sacketts as I do from some of my luxury-end ties like Kiton, Brioni, and Hermes. Most importantly, they’re one of the most affordably priced at around around $60 per tie. The quality to price ratio here is really incredible, and I encourage you to take a look at their catalog