The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection
For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 
Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 
Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 
Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 
Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 
You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer. 
If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 
Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 
Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 
So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here. 
I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 
(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)

The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection

For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 

Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 

Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 

Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 

Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 

You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer

If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 

Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 

Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 

So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here

I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 

(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)

The Necktie Series, Part VII: Tying it with Some Panache

Oscar Wilde once said something like “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life.” By now, you should know that the four-in-hand will work for most situations, and that the double four-in-hand can be used when you want a bit more bravado (or if you’re short and need to shorten the back blade a bit). I’ve also talked about how the Pratt should be used for spread collars or wider ties. With those three knots, you should be prepared for anything. 

Next, I thought I’d cover the two basic ways you can add some panache to how you tie your tie. The first is the Italian method - pulling it to the side a bit and leaving the blade out of the keeper. If you have an extra long tie, you might even want to leave the back blade a big longer than the front. The other method is arching your tie, a technique I always use now. It used to be a knee-jerk reaction to seeing guys leaving their ties loosely tied, a look so juvenile and awful that I cringe even just thinking about it. Nowadays, however, I just like the panache it gives. In this technique, the tie lifts off from the shirt. The photograph I’ve chosen exaggerates it a bit; in practice, the tie ends up looking a bit more like this or this. As Hardy Amies once put it, these kind of ties “come into a room almost before the man.” 

Check these two videos to see how to do each. The first is an interview with Sid Mashburn by GQ, who probably pulls it a bit more to the side than I would recommend (though he still looks great). The second is by Will, from A Suitable Wardobe, and he’ll show you how to achieve that tie arch. 



The Necktie Series, Part VI: Is the Four-in-Hand Really the Only Knot You Need to Know?

You know what the menswear blogosphere needs more of? Disagreement and debate. So long as we keep it friendly and respectful, I’m sure we would all benefit from having a little more push back on what each of us think. So I thought I’d take a stand against some orthodoxy today - the idea that the four-in-hand is the only knot you need to know.

Well, more accurately, it’s said that the four-in-hand and the double four-in-hand are the only knots you need to know. However, they’re more or less the same thing. Both are asymmetrical and relatively small compared to other knots.

It’s not a terrible piece of advice, certainly. It works for almost every situation, and you’ll rarely go wrong with it. However, there is one situation where I think the four-in-hand shouldn’t be used: when you’re wearing a spread or cutaway collar shirt. For this, I think the aysmetry looks poor and the smallness of the knot out of proportion with the collar. For me, dressing well is often about proportions - the width of your tie, for example, should match the width of your lapel; the circumference of your leg opening should be in proportion to the size of your waist and feet; the length of your jacket should be in proportion to the length of your legs. Everything is about proportions and balance. 

Thus, for spread collar shirts, I think a bigger knot is called for. Now, the “bigger knot” most men know is the Half-Windsor. However, the Half-Windsor is a bit ostentatious. Better, I think, to opt for the Pratt. It’s symmetrical, so it looks better on spread collars; big enough to fill the gap between your collar points; and helps hide the tie band that would otherwise peak out. It’s also of a medium thickness, somewhere between the Half-Windsor and four-in-hand, so it does the job without being vulgar. 

I’ve Photoshopped some images for you to judge. One is of James Bond from the film, From Russia with Love (given to me by BespoKenN). The other is from a Ralph Lauren catalog, which showcases their cutaway collar model, called the Keaton. 

Try the Pratt when you’re at home today and see what you think. Note, however, that this knot should not be used with grenadines, as the knot will be too big. 

To learn how to tie the Pratt, you can read my earlier entry about this knot here

The Necktie Series, Part V: “Novelty” ties

It may seem strange to talk about novelty ties when discussing a basic, minimal necktie wardrobe. However, an overly basic necktie wardrobe can be, frankly, a bit boring. Sometimes you want something a bit more novel and playful. The key here is to choose something fun without crossing into kitsch. I’ve chosen three options for you to consider and included some photos to illustrate what I think are perfect executions. When these are done right, they can be excellent variations on the staples I’ve been talking about this week. 

Bicolor knits

Bicolor knits are possibly the most underrated thing in menswear right now. As I noted, you’ll soon find that knit ties are some of the most versatile that you can buy. Most men, fortunately or unfortunately, find themselves in increasingly casual settings, and a knit tie works best for these environments. Solid knits are great, but for a little more punch, I recommend bicolor knits. These ties are made with two different colored yarns and, if the yarns are woven in a slightly open weave, they can slightly vary in color depending on the angle they’re seen from. They’re absolutely stunning in person. 

Gallo and Drakes are probably the most well-known makers. Unfortunately, you can only get Gallo in Italy, and they sell for about $125. Drakes is a bit more easily obtained, since they have an online store, but they still run about $150. They also don’t carry them all the time. 

Much more affordable are Kent Wang’s, which sell for $75. His are made on an older loom, which means there is an overlapping seam on the back. This gives it a bit more of a three-dimensional appearance, which I like. Newer looms make them just like socks, so the seams lay flat. 

Other options include A Suitable Wardrobe, which has a very nice bicolor, and The Dandy Store. You can get 15% off your order at The Dandy Store by punching in the code: WELCOME_STYLEFORUMERS

For the bold, get two high-contrast colors such as brown and navy. For something subtler, try something like a dark purple and navy. The color combinations here are endless. 

 Raw silks

The term raw silk can be a bit confusing. In the silk industry (more professionally known as sericulture), I’ve seen the term “raw silk” refer to pure silk fibers that haven’t been treated with any chemicals. I’ve also seen it refer to silks that haven’t been stripped of their sericin, the gooey substance that sheaths the silk when it leaves the silkworm’s lips. 

For ties, however, it seems that the term generally refers to silks taken from wild silk worms. In traditional silk production, silk worms are raised on a “silk farm.” Once these worms have encased themselves in their cocoons, workers drop them into hot water in order to kill them and remove the sticky sericin. The cocoons are then brushed until the end of the silk filament is found, at which point they’re carefully unraveled and spun onto spools. You can see a wonderful video of the process here

Thus, raw silks in this case refer to a deviation from the traditional process - when the worms aren’t killed, but instead allowed to transform into moths. Once the moths are newly formed, they secrete an alkali fluid that dissolves a hole in the cocoon so that they can emerge. The hole breaks the silk filament into shorter fibers, which are then spun like cotton or hemp, rather than reeled onto a spool in one continuous strand.

There are two main types of raw silks - shantung and tussah. Both combine irregular thick and thin yarns in the warp and weft. This creates an uneven surface and color, which gives it a slightly rough and textured hand. However, shantung typically will have the sericin left on, which makes it feel a bit more thick. It will also have less of a sheen than tussah will have. 

For me, the upside to raw silks is almost all in its slubby quality. Knits and grenadines are great ways to add texture, but nothing beats the uniqueness of a slubby raw silk tie. Drakes so far seems to be the only maker of slubby ones. They’re a bit expensive, but you can’t argue with how amazing their ties are. 

Contrasting blades

Finally, we have ties with contrasting blades. I’ve always liked these. When I need the tie to be a bit more traditional, I tuck the blade into the keeper; when I want something a bit more playful, I don’t. When you move naturally throughout the day, the blade peeks out in a playful manner, which I think makes the tie a bit more fun. I’ve included a photo of GW with his contrast color Zegna tie. You can also see Wale wear one in his “You in Reverse” video (which, by the way, is a must see). 

There are a few companies that make these. Pierrepont Hicks has for a while now. I’ve never handled one personally, but Jesse wore one of their bow ties in his last video. Another excellent option is Sam Hober. Since Hober’s ties are all bespoke, you can ask for a contrasting blade, in any color, on any tie. I’ve showcased an example of one of his latest commissions in the photo montage above. I have to admit I’m not that crazy about the color combination, but that’s the client’s choice. The craftsmanship on a Hober tie, however, is one of the best on the market. I’m actually thinking about commissioning a contrast blade tie from him sometime this month. 

So that’s it. This past week I’ve covered your necktie staples and discussed some “novelty ties,” just for the sake of diversity. That should give you some idea of what your most basic collection should look like. Come back next week for the last three parts of this series, where I’ll discuss tie knots and how to maintain your ties. 

(Special thanks to Michael Hill of Drakes for help with this article, and Mark Cho at The Armoury, GW of MostExerent, and Ethan Desu, also at The Armoury, for letting me use their photos!)

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.

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

The Necktie Series, Part II: The Manufacturing Process

I used to read a lot about how shoes are constructed, but one of the most educational experiences was watching videos like this, which actually showed the process being done. As such, I thought I’d follow up my post on Tuesday with the following four videos, which take you through one of the ways a handmade tie can be created.

Here you’ll see how the tie’s fabric is weaved and printed on. You’ll also be taken through each stage in the making of a handmade tie, including a seven fold. Notice the hand-done details, including how the tie is carefully pressed. These details help keep the edges soft and rolling, not made into a crease. 

You may want to keep my previous post on hand, and review some of the terms while watching these videos. Between the two entries, you should have a reasonably strong knowledge about how ties are made and what details define their quality. 

Check back next week, when I’ll begin to discuss what ties make up the most basic collection. 



The Necktie Series, Part I: Construction and Quality

If you’re like me, you like to know how things are made. Sometimes this is so that you can know how to spot quality, and thus be a more discriminating buyer. Other times, it’s so you can appreciate things on a deeper level. So as an introduction to the necktie series, I thought I’d discuss the intricacies of how a tie is made. 

A tie has five main parts - the envelope, keeper, tip, interlining, and stitching. 

The Envelope

The envelope, also known as the shell, can be made from silk, wool, cashmere, linen, or cotton. Some are also made from polyester, but those should be avoided. When a tie is made from higher quality material, it will give you a superior knot, better dimple, and nicer drape. Depending on the weave, the fabric may also exhibit a certain movement as you wear it.

After the fabric has been cut for a tie, it has to be folded. Most ties have three folds, but some go up to six or seven. Will from A Suitable Wardrobe even has a twelve-fold tie, which is more unusual. What is the effect of having more folds? Well, it’s a bit nuanced. Additional folds add weight and drape, and can be necessary to add body to a tie if the silk is very thin. Moreover, ties with six folds or more are very difficult to make, requiring more material and skill, and thus are appreciated as artisanal pieces. They are also more likely to be made from better fabrics and made by hand, so they could signal other dimensions in the tie’s quality. 

However, a tie’s quality can’t just be inferred just from the number of folds it has. For example, a seven-fold isn’t necessarily better than a three- or six-fold. Though they’re more difficult to make, a seven fold is more likely to become wrinkled and flop around in the wind. The practice of multi-fold ties has also become a kind of marketing gimmick to trick less informed customers. For example, some Chinese producers are now producing seven-fold ties using low-grade silk and lower quality mass construction techniques, hoping they can get by with just the sell of “a seven-fold.” 

In the end, a well crafted three-fold will always be better than most six- or seven-folds. However, if you like complex craftsmanship, a well done seven-fold tie can be something very nice to have, much like a mechanical watch. 

I’ve included a picture above that shows how to tell if a tie is a seven folds. It should be fairly simple - just count the folds - however, sometimes folds are hidden above the bar tack, so they can be hard to count. Be careful when you’re buying on the market too; sometimes what is marketed as a seven-fold tie is actually an lined, tipped six-folds. 

The Keeper

The keeper is the band of fabric in the back that keeps your back blade in place. It can be made from the maker’s label, or from the same fabric the envelope is made from, in which case it would be called a self-loop or self-keeper. 

The Tip

Tipping is the material used to finish the backside of the tie’s end. It’s machine-stitched on and typically goes up three to four inches, but on some ties, can go as high as the knot (though that’s rare and makes for poor construction). If a tie is said to be self-tipped, it means the tip is made from the same material the envelope has been cut from. When a tie is untipped, the edges can either be sewn flat or hand rolled and hand sewn like the edges you would see on a nice pocket square. If the tie has hand rolled, hand sewn edges, check to see if there are wrinkles or dimples on the front of the tie. If there are, the sewing was done too quickly, and a mark of lower quality craftsmanship. 

The Interlining

The interlining is what constitutes the “body” of most ties. If the envelope’s material is not robust, like wool or a thick silk, then it will need a wool or wool blend fabric inside, on which the envelope is folded over. Almost all luxury ties will have a pure wool interlining. This interlining helps the tie keep its shape, drape on the wearer, and shake out wrinkles after it has been worn. Remember, wool has more “memory” than silk or linen, so it can help the tie recover its original shape after its been worn. If a tie has no interlining, it will often need to be folded more than three times to give the tie some body. How many more is up to the maker and lightness of the fabric.

The Stitching

Finally, there are the stitches and crafting used to put all these pieces together. Along with the pattern making and how the fabric is cut, the care with which a tie is sewn is the most important element. Luxury ties are almost entirely hand made. Some of these hand details include bar tacks on the back of both ends of the tie. This hand sewn detail that provides a more durable joining than the standard stitch you typically see in machine made neckties. Luxury ties will also feature a hand sewn slip stitch, which is the long vertical stitch sewn up the back of the tie. Low end ties will have the slip stitch done on a LIBA machine, like this. A hand sewn slip stitch, however, will be a bit looser and allow tie to move along the hidden stitch thread. This will ensure that it won’t rip or tear when it’s being wrapped tightly around your neck. It will also allow the tie to return to its original shape after you’ve untied it. 

To check for the quality in a tie, ask the seller about the silk and interlining’s composition and weight. Anyone selling you a luxury necktie should be able to tell you something about it. Also examine the finish and try putting it on. Does it give you a good knot and dimple? Does it drape nicely? Does it feel well balanced? When you take it off, does it return to its original shape? Are the edges nice and rolling, instead of creased and flat? In the end, many of the elements I’ve discussed should go into the performance of a tie, and that’s what you should look for when buying one. Try on a high-end tie first, so that you have a benchmark to compare to, and then try a cheap polyester tie. That experience should be a good first step in beginning to understand what to look for. 

(Special thanks to David Hober for help with this article)

(Photos by Voxsartoria, Napoli Coast, Sam Hober, Drakes of London, and me)

The Necktie Series: An Introduction
While I don’t believe a tie is a requisite to being well dressed, I do believe that dressing well begins with a decision about a tie - namely the choice on whether or not you’re going to wear one. Should you decide to wear a tie, you should select the one you want to wear, and then let your choice in a shirt follow as a consequence. Thereafter, once you have selected these two elements, your choice in for a suit or jacket will be obvious, as it will be the frame for the elegant shirt and tie combination you’ve just created. This is, essentially, a method of dressing that revolves around the necktie, starting with the center and then moving outwards. 
Thus, given the importance of the necktie, I thought I’d do a series on it. Too many men, especially those just beginning to improve their wardrobe, go on tie buying sprees, usually at bargain shops. They snag whatever discount deals they can get on any tie that might strike their fancy. This method of shopping lacks vision. It would be better to know what a strong, basic tie collection should look like, and then slowly work your way towards it. So for this series, I will discuss what ties make up that most basic collection, so that you might make better use of your money. Before that, however, I will talk a little about how ties are constructed and how to discern quality. Additionally, the series will also include a short discussion about tie knots, as well as tips for how to care for and repair your ties. 
There are eight installments to this series, which makes this the longest series I’ve ever done. Rather than post one a day, I thought I’d intersperse them throughout a three week period, and talk about other topics in between each post. Keep an eye out for the series, however, as I hope to give you some new inspiration and enthusiasm for one of our favorite accessories. 

The Necktie Series: An Introduction

While I don’t believe a tie is a requisite to being well dressed, I do believe that dressing well begins with a decision about a tie - namely the choice on whether or not you’re going to wear one. Should you decide to wear a tie, you should select the one you want to wear, and then let your choice in a shirt follow as a consequence. Thereafter, once you have selected these two elements, your choice in for a suit or jacket will be obvious, as it will be the frame for the elegant shirt and tie combination you’ve just created. This is, essentially, a method of dressing that revolves around the necktie, starting with the center and then moving outwards. 

Thus, given the importance of the necktie, I thought I’d do a series on it. Too many men, especially those just beginning to improve their wardrobe, go on tie buying sprees, usually at bargain shops. They snag whatever discount deals they can get on any tie that might strike their fancy. This method of shopping lacks vision. It would be better to know what a strong, basic tie collection should look like, and then slowly work your way towards it. So for this series, I will discuss what ties make up that most basic collection, so that you might make better use of your money. Before that, however, I will talk a little about how ties are constructed and how to discern quality. Additionally, the series will also include a short discussion about tie knots, as well as tips for how to care for and repair your ties. 

There are eight installments to this series, which makes this the longest series I’ve ever done. Rather than post one a day, I thought I’d intersperse them throughout a three week period, and talk about other topics in between each post. Keep an eye out for the series, however, as I hope to give you some new inspiration and enthusiasm for one of our favorite accessories.