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

mostexerent:

Great example of what to start with.
I have pretty much the above & then the same in dark brown.
After this, then start with rep stripes & paisleys..

Something that it took me a long time to realize was how important the basic basic necktie is.  That’s why I’m such a big advocate of solid grenadine ties.  Easy to wear, beautiful, go with anything, very classy.  You should buy yourself a (non-satin) navy blue and black tie in a textured weave with no or incredibly simple (white) ornamentation.  Add something in brown… something in dark red.  If you have to spend good money on them, do so.  These will be the basis of your wardrobe for ten or twenty years.  They’ll allow you to wear any shirt and any jacket, no matter what the colors or patterns.  If you need a source, try Kent Wang or Sam Hober.

mostexerent:

Great example of what to start with.

I have pretty much the above & then the same in dark brown.

After this, then start with rep stripes & paisleys..

Something that it took me a long time to realize was how important the basic basic necktie is.  That’s why I’m such a big advocate of solid grenadine ties.  Easy to wear, beautiful, go with anything, very classy.  You should buy yourself a (non-satin) navy blue and black tie in a textured weave with no or incredibly simple (white) ornamentation.  Add something in brown… something in dark red.  If you have to spend good money on them, do so.  These will be the basis of your wardrobe for ten or twenty years.  They’ll allow you to wear any shirt and any jacket, no matter what the colors or patterns.  If you need a source, try Kent Wang or Sam Hober.

(Source: nachobroadwaynyc)

Q and Answer
Sam writes:
I’m tall. 6’3” or so. I like the look of a thicker knot in a necktie for some occasions, but if I try anything other than a four-in-hand I end up with a tie that is too short.   I realize there are longer ties available, but that brings with it the limited options and history of bad fashion at big-and-tall shops. Any advice? 
Sam, I myself am 6’3”, and don’t worry: there is help!
First of all: there’s nothing wrong with the four-in-hand.  Best tie knot around.  Versatile, rakish, handsome, never ostentatious.  However, if you want to fill out a spread collar, a bigger knot is great to have in your repotoire.
I agree with you that avoiding big-and-tall shops is a great idea.  Especially if you’re just tall - they tend to make clothes for people who are both.
Two sources for longer neckties come to mind.  On the budget side, Land’s End is a great source.  They offer many traditional necktie styles, and while their quality isn’t world-class, it’s very good for the price.  Here’s a classic Churchill dot tie, for example - long size is only $19.99.  You can also try some focused Ebay searching for long ties that may net some similar options.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get your ties made to your exact preferences by Sam Hober.  They charge $80 for hand-made neckties in any length and width, so you can buy a tie that fits you perfectly.  I bought the tie I wore in my wedding from Sam Hober, and while it took quite some time to arrive (the cost of bespoke), the quality is quite nice, and it’s a relief to have a tie with a rear blade that actually reaches past the keeper loop. Of course, Hober is also a great option for shorter men who have the opposite problem.
Hopefully some combination of these two will help keep you from looking like Oliver Hardy whenever you’re suited up.

Q and Answer

Sam writes:

I’m tall. 6’3” or so. I like the look of a thicker knot in a necktie for some occasions, but if I try anything other than a four-in-hand I end up with a tie that is too short.   I realize there are longer ties available, but that brings with it the limited options and history of bad fashion at big-and-tall shops. Any advice?

Sam, I myself am 6’3”, and don’t worry: there is help!

First of all: there’s nothing wrong with the four-in-hand.  Best tie knot around.  Versatile, rakish, handsome, never ostentatious.  However, if you want to fill out a spread collar, a bigger knot is great to have in your repotoire.

I agree with you that avoiding big-and-tall shops is a great idea.  Especially if you’re just tall - they tend to make clothes for people who are both.

Two sources for longer neckties come to mind.  On the budget side, Land’s End is a great source.  They offer many traditional necktie styles, and while their quality isn’t world-class, it’s very good for the price.  Here’s a classic Churchill dot tie, for example - long size is only $19.99.  You can also try some focused Ebay searching for long ties that may net some similar options.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can get your ties made to your exact preferences by Sam Hober.  They charge $80 for hand-made neckties in any length and width, so you can buy a tie that fits you perfectly.  I bought the tie I wore in my wedding from Sam Hober, and while it took quite some time to arrive (the cost of bespoke), the quality is quite nice, and it’s a relief to have a tie with a rear blade that actually reaches past the keeper loop. Of course, Hober is also a great option for shorter men who have the opposite problem.

Hopefully some combination of these two will help keep you from looking like Oliver Hardy whenever you’re suited up.