Building a Necktie Wardrobe
I’m a big believer in building a necktie wardrobe using the most basic and versatile designs possible. That means starting off with some simple striped ties (ones that are simple, not busy) and a handful of grenadines. If you wear suits often, you’ll want a few conservative foulards and maybe a dotted silk. Navy, burgundy, dark brown, and dark green will be your most useful colors. Throw in a silver grenadine for things such as weddings, and you’re basically covered for almost anything that might come up. 
After that, however, it’s nice to expand a little into seasonal neckwear. Our friends at Vanda Fine Clothing have a nice assortment pictured above. As you can see, every one of these is solid navy, but also textured, which make them a little easier to wear. If you have a patterned jacket or shirt, the solid color here will ensure that things don’t look too busy. On the other hand, if your jacket or shirt is solid colored,  the texture of your tie will lend some useful visual interest. 
In the above: a wool Donegal and silk/ wool chevron that I would keep to fall/ winter; an indigo raw silk that I would keep to spring/ summer; and a blue hopsack and navy grenadine for wear year round. 
(Photo via vandafineclothing)

Building a Necktie Wardrobe

I’m a big believer in building a necktie wardrobe using the most basic and versatile designs possible. That means starting off with some simple striped ties (ones that are simple, not busy) and a handful of grenadines. If you wear suits often, you’ll want a few conservative foulards and maybe a dotted silk. Navy, burgundy, dark brown, and dark green will be your most useful colors. Throw in a silver grenadine for things such as weddings, and you’re basically covered for almost anything that might come up. 

After that, however, it’s nice to expand a little into seasonal neckwear. Our friends at Vanda Fine Clothing have a nice assortment pictured above. As you can see, every one of these is solid navy, but also textured, which make them a little easier to wear. If you have a patterned jacket or shirt, the solid color here will ensure that things don’t look too busy. On the other hand, if your jacket or shirt is solid colored,  the texture of your tie will lend some useful visual interest. 

In the above: a wool Donegal and silk/ wool chevron that I would keep to fall/ winter; an indigo raw silk that I would keep to spring/ summer; and a blue hopsack and navy grenadine for wear year round. 

(Photo via vandafineclothing)

The Usefulness of Cotton Pocket Squares
Just this summer, I’ve started appreciating how useful having a few cotton pocket squares can be. Most squares you see on the market are made from linen, silk, or wool, and each have their own advantages.
Linen is easily the most versatile, as it can smarten up the look of a suit jacket or sport coat while also remaining discrete. Very helpful these days if you want to look sharp without seeming overly dandy.
Silk squares are a bit more fanciful, but they do better with tweed or flannel jackets since their sheen nicely complements the matte finish of wool cloth. They also go well with wool neckties for the same reason.
Wool squares, on the other hand, are great for sport coats, as they don’t have the sheen of silk, and therefore look a bit more casual. They’re also good for when you feel a sharply folded linen square might look too studied. And like how silk squares pair best with wool or cashmere neckties, wool squares give a nice balance to silk neckwear.
Much like wool squares, then, I’ve found that cotton squares go great with summer sport coats and silk neckties, or for when you’re not wearing any neckwear at all, but are trying to smarten up the look of an odd jacket and open collared shirt. Which is basically what I use mine for these days. 
Pictured above are the four I own. The first is a finely woven white square from Simonnot Godard, which I bought from A Suitable Wardrobe. They’re out of that specific design at the moment, but they have others in both their pocket squares and handkerchief sections. The other three are various printed squares from Drake’s, which I bought from Exquisite Trimmings and No Man Walks Alone. You can also find nice cotton squares at our Etsy shop, Vanda Fine Clothing, Mr. Porter, as well as our advertiser The Hanger Project.

The Usefulness of Cotton Pocket Squares

Just this summer, I’ve started appreciating how useful having a few cotton pocket squares can be. Most squares you see on the market are made from linen, silk, or wool, and each have their own advantages.

  • Linen is easily the most versatile, as it can smarten up the look of a suit jacket or sport coat while also remaining discrete. Very helpful these days if you want to look sharp without seeming overly dandy.
  • Silk squares are a bit more fanciful, but they do better with tweed or flannel jackets since their sheen nicely complements the matte finish of wool cloth. They also go well with wool neckties for the same reason.
  • Wool squares, on the other hand, are great for sport coats, as they don’t have the sheen of silk, and therefore look a bit more casual. They’re also good for when you feel a sharply folded linen square might look too studied. And like how silk squares pair best with wool or cashmere neckties, wool squares give a nice balance to silk neckwear.

Much like wool squares, then, I’ve found that cotton squares go great with summer sport coats and silk neckties, or for when you’re not wearing any neckwear at all, but are trying to smarten up the look of an odd jacket and open collared shirt. Which is basically what I use mine for these days. 

Pictured above are the four I own. The first is a finely woven white square from Simonnot Godard, which I bought from A Suitable Wardrobe. They’re out of that specific design at the moment, but they have others in both their pocket squares and handkerchief sections. The other three are various printed squares from Drake’s, which I bought from Exquisite Trimmings and No Man Walks Alone. You can also find nice cotton squares at our Etsy shop, Vanda Fine Clothing, Mr. Porter, as well as our advertiser The Hanger Project.

It’s (Sort of) On Sale: The Knottery’s Raw Silks
Speaking of raw silk ties, The Knottery now has a selection of them on their website. The regular retail price is $50, but they’re doing pre-orders for $38. The navy dotted one looks pretty versatile, and much better designed than the ones offered by Lands End last year. 
The other sources for raw silk neckwear (that I know of) are Drake’s, Vanda Fine Clothing, Panta, Marshall Anthony, J. Press, Ovadia & Sons, vintage Ralph Lauren, and vintage Bijan. There may be a couple others out there, but the market isn’t big.
Drake’s, Vanda, and Panta are the nicest, but they retail between $120 and $150. Marshall Anthony’s are also excellent, and I find they sometimes knot better than my Drake’s. They use cheaper wool/ cotton blend interlinings, but since those interlinings are lighter in weight, they help balance out the thick fabric of the raw silk. 
J. Press’ raw silks are good, but often carry more sheen than I like, and not enough slub for my taste. Ovadia & Sons’ selections always look handsome, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them. Then there are vintage pieces from Ralph Lauren and Bijan, which are fantastic, but difficult to find. I come across maybe two or three a year, and I’m always on the lookout. 
The difference between those and the Knottery’s ties, assuming they’re like the grenadine I sampled, is that the Knottery’s are machine made and will probably be slightly beefier. On the other hand, they’re also much more affordable (about $100 less than most of the aforementioned companies). If you’re looking for an affordable raw silk tie, there’s probably nothing better than this. 
Update: Jay from The Knottery emailed to tell me they’ve switched factories and are now offering mostly handmade ties. A nice plus. 
(Sale found via Pete’s Twitter)

It’s (Sort of) On Sale: The Knottery’s Raw Silks

Speaking of raw silk ties, The Knottery now has a selection of them on their website. The regular retail price is $50, but they’re doing pre-orders for $38. The navy dotted one looks pretty versatile, and much better designed than the ones offered by Lands End last year. 

The other sources for raw silk neckwear (that I know of) are Drake’s, Vanda Fine ClothingPanta, Marshall Anthony, J. Press, Ovadia & Sons, vintage Ralph Lauren, and vintage Bijan. There may be a couple others out there, but the market isn’t big.

Drake’s, Vanda, and Panta are the nicest, but they retail between $120 and $150. Marshall Anthony’s are also excellent, and I find they sometimes knot better than my Drake’s. They use cheaper wool/ cotton blend interlinings, but since those interlinings are lighter in weight, they help balance out the thick fabric of the raw silk. 

J. Press’ raw silks are good, but often carry more sheen than I like, and not enough slub for my taste. Ovadia & Sons’ selections always look handsome, but I don’t have any first hand experience with them. Then there are vintage pieces from Ralph Lauren and Bijan, which are fantastic, but difficult to find. I come across maybe two or three a year, and I’m always on the lookout. 

The difference between those and the Knottery’s ties, assuming they’re like the grenadine I sampled, is that the Knottery’s are machine made and will probably be slightly beefier. On the other hand, they’re also much more affordable (about $100 less than most of the aforementioned companies). If you’re looking for an affordable raw silk tie, there’s probably nothing better than this. 

Update: Jay from The Knottery emailed to tell me they’ve switched factories and are now offering mostly handmade ties. A nice plus. 

(Sale found via Pete’s Twitter)

The Advantage of Unusual Designs in Pocket Squares

Like with ties, I find it’s easy to acquire more pocket square than you need. This is true for almost any accessory, really. As I mentioned before, accessories tend to be easier to size right, are relatively more affordable, and can satisfy that urge to buy something new. Before you know it, you have dozens of ties and pocket squares, and not nearly enough sport coats or suits to justify your collection.

In my time wearing pocket squares, I’ve come to realize that I mostly rely on just three types. The first is clean white linen, which I like to wear with everything except tweeds. Then there are madder silks, which I find to be useful in the fall and winter months. For some reason, those are a bit hard to find (especially in soft, muted colors), but Ralph Lauren sometimes stocks them.

Then there’s the third category, which I think is the most useful – squares with large, intricate designs of the kind that you’d never see in ties. The advantage of these is that you never run the risk of looking like you bought your tie and pocket square as part of a matching set (which you should never do, by the way). With a big, bold pattern – as opposed to something like pin dots – you can always be sure that your square will stand on its own, but still harmonize with whatever else you’re wearing through some complementary color. Plus, if you find something with the right square, you can get a bit more versatility by simply turning the square a bit here or there to show off the colors you want. That’s much hard to do if every inch of your square is essentially the same repeating pattern.

In recent years, the number of places where you can buy such squares has exploded. There are the standards, of course, in the form of Drake’s and Rubinacci, both of which produce beautiful pieces. You can purchase those directly through each brand’s shops, or through various online retailers such as No Man Walks Alone, A Suitable Wardrobe, Exquisite Trimmings, Malford of London, Mr. Porter, and our advertiser The Hanger Project. There are also a number of other operations worth considering:

Put This On: The first is of course our pocket square shop. Jesse finds vintage and deadstock fabrics from online sellers and thrift shops, and then has them handmade into pocket squares through a tailor in Los Angeles. That means having the edges handrolled with a nice plump edge, rather than something machined and flat.
Vanda Fine Clothing: Run by the newlywed couple Diana and Gerald, these two produce excellent high-end ties and pocket squares – all hand sewn by them in their workshop in Singapore. Recently, they came out with a series of Chinese zodiac squares, which add a bit of personalization for the wearer.
Ikire Jones: Ikire Jones is a relatively new company run by a finalist in one of Esquire’s “Best Dressed Real Man” competitions. The designer, Wale Oyejide, is a bold dresser with a strong sense of color. Whether you’re a conservative dresser such as myself, or more daring, I think his pocket squares are quite useful. I reviewed them here.
Christian Kimber: Christian has some refreshingly modern designs with abstracted shapes made to look like famous landmarks. At the moment, there are squares representing London, Melbourne, and Florence, but more cities will be released sometime this year.
P. Johnson Tailors: Like Christian Kimber, P. Johnson also produces designs with a slightly more modern sensibility. Their squares tend to have large swaths of color, so you might want to think about how you normally fold your square, lest you look like you’re wearing something that’s one solid color.
Kent Wang: Always a good source for more affordable options, Kent has printed more unique looking pocket squares in the last year. The only thing to watch out for is the size. I find that squares smaller than 15” x 15” feel a bit too insubstantial, although your taste may differ.

(Photos above by The SartorialistChristian KimberRubinacciMalford of LondonVanda Fine Clothing, and us)

Donegal Tweed Ties
As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.
The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.
Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.
There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.
Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 
(Picture via voxsart)

Donegal Tweed Ties

As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.

The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.

Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.

There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.

Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 

(Picture via voxsart)

It’s On Sale: Jackets and Accessories

Two really good sales just popped up. The first is at Oi Polloi, where jackets can be had at 20% off with the discount code JERKIN. There are some exclusions, but not many. For example, I bought this Barbour Beaufort and Nike x Undercover jacket earlier this season, and the code applies to both of them. The Beaufort is a longer version of Barbour’s Bedale, and will go handsomely over a sport coat if you take your regular size. The Nike x Undercover jacket is a bit expensive, but it’s a nice indulgence if you’re a runner. Just make sure to take your next size up, as that line runs quite slim. An extra 20% will be automatically taken off at checkout if you’re exempt from European taxes. 

The other sale is at Vanda Fine Clothing, one of my favorite makers for men’s neckties and pocket squares. To celebrate the two founders’ coming marriage (congrats to Diana and Gerald!), they’re offering 20% off everything in their store with the discount code TIESTHATBIND081213. The downside? The code ends in about four hours (GMT +8), so if you want something … you’ll need to get on it. 

Buying Vegan
Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from a reader who – whether for ethical, religious, or some other reason – has decided to abstain from animal products, but still wants a set of professional clothes for certain occasions. They’ll often ask if I have suggestions on where they can shop.
The answer is not easy. Many suits and sport coats will use animal hair for the canvas, and even if they’re fused, they’ll likely have a chest piece made from horsehair or camelhair. These are the things that give the jacket its structure. I suppose you could have one custom made, but this can be prohibitively expensive depending on your budget.
Ties are a bit easier. Cotton is your best option, as it will lack the sheen in unnatural materials, but like with tailored jackets, you’ll want to keep in mind that many well-made options will often have wool or wool blended materials inside. A sales associate probably can’t tell you the material make-up of a tie’s interlining, so you may either want to buy from a company such as this one, or see if you can get something custom made by Sam Hober or Vanda Fine Clothing.
For shoes, the four most popular retailers are Vegan Essentials, Moo Shoes, Pangea, and Vegetarian Shoes. Admittedly, much of what they sell, at least in the “dress shoes” department, is not terribly attractive. There are somewhat better options at Novacas, Ethical Wares, Vegan Chic, Vegan Wares, and No Harm. The last one seems to have the most wearable designs of all, including the simple brown cap toe oxfords you see above. In general, however, vegan shoes seem to be much better on the casual end of the spectrum. For example, I think these chukkas, minimalistic sneakers, and work boots don’t look too bad.
Another option is to go second-hand, but that obviously doesn’t divorce you from the primary market (in other words, buying second-hand leather shoes can still affect the primary demand for leather). Plus, if you’re against wearing animal products for religious reasons, something being second-hand may not matter to you.
One thing to consider is that if you’re trying to minimize harm to animals for ethical reasons, buying “vegan shoes” may not be a clear best option. Vegan shoes are made from petroleum-based synthetic leathers, and will last you maybe one to three years with regular wear. Well-made leather shoes, on the other hand, are usually made from vegetable tanned leathers and can last for decades (literally) if properly taken care of. I’m not at all prepared to say which has a lower environmental impact, or how that impact would translate to animal welfare, but it’s something to consider.
Update: A friend of ours recommend this model by Sanders. Not all Sanders shoes are vegan (in fact, few of them are), but if you can find them, they seem to be one of the best options available. 
(Pictured above: No Harm’s cap toe oxfords)

Buying Vegan

Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from a reader who – whether for ethical, religious, or some other reason – has decided to abstain from animal products, but still wants a set of professional clothes for certain occasions. They’ll often ask if I have suggestions on where they can shop.

The answer is not easy. Many suits and sport coats will use animal hair for the canvas, and even if they’re fused, they’ll likely have a chest piece made from horsehair or camelhair. These are the things that give the jacket its structure. I suppose you could have one custom made, but this can be prohibitively expensive depending on your budget.

Ties are a bit easier. Cotton is your best option, as it will lack the sheen in unnatural materials, but like with tailored jackets, you’ll want to keep in mind that many well-made options will often have wool or wool blended materials inside. A sales associate probably can’t tell you the material make-up of a tie’s interlining, so you may either want to buy from a company such as this one, or see if you can get something custom made by Sam Hober or Vanda Fine Clothing.

For shoes, the four most popular retailers are Vegan Essentials, Moo Shoes, Pangea, and Vegetarian Shoes. Admittedly, much of what they sell, at least in the “dress shoes” department, is not terribly attractive. There are somewhat better options at Novacas, Ethical Wares, Vegan Chic, Vegan Wares, and No Harm. The last one seems to have the most wearable designs of all, including the simple brown cap toe oxfords you see above. In general, however, vegan shoes seem to be much better on the casual end of the spectrum. For example, I think these chukkas, minimalistic sneakers, and work boots don’t look too bad.

Another option is to go second-hand, but that obviously doesn’t divorce you from the primary market (in other words, buying second-hand leather shoes can still affect the primary demand for leather). Plus, if you’re against wearing animal products for religious reasons, something being second-hand may not matter to you.

One thing to consider is that if you’re trying to minimize harm to animals for ethical reasons, buying “vegan shoes” may not be a clear best option. Vegan shoes are made from petroleum-based synthetic leathers, and will last you maybe one to three years with regular wear. Well-made leather shoes, on the other hand, are usually made from vegetable tanned leathers and can last for decades (literally) if properly taken care of. I’m not at all prepared to say which has a lower environmental impact, or how that impact would translate to animal welfare, but it’s something to consider.

Update: A friend of ours recommend this model by Sanders. Not all Sanders shoes are vegan (in fact, few of them are), but if you can find them, they seem to be one of the best options available. 

(Pictured above: No Harm’s cap toe oxfords)

Quality as Taste
A friend of mine recently asked me for my opinion on what makes a well-made tie, and the conversation got me thinking about quality in general. You often find men on various online forums debating which items are better made than others. Some even go through the trouble of making incredibly detailed hierarchal lists. There are objective and subjective criteria for judging quality, however, and I think one should be careful not to confuse the two. 
For example, you should only buy ties that easily return to their shape after they’ve been knotted and unknotted. If they don’t, terrible creases can form along the neckband, which will eventually make them difficult to wear. Something like this would be an objective dimension to quality. 
Then there is the subjective, by which I mean things that are very open to taste. For me, I like a tie that dimples well, but I’ve seen a few smart dressers who wear ties without one. In addition, I like my ties to arch a little, then drape down, and have some gentle movement to them throughout the day. The fabric, in my opinion, looks best when it shows off its natural characteristics. I also prefer slightly smaller, elongated knots, although this isn’t always easily found. These characteristics – the dimple, drape, and knot – all have to do with the material, lining, and cut.  
Outside of that, there are small, artisanal details. E&G Cappelli ties, for example, have more visible handstitching and Vanda’s have a higher bar tacks so that you can easily peek at the folds. However, there are also makers who don’t exhibit any of these qualities, such as Drake’s or Ralph Lauren, and they’re still excellent ties.  
What some people pass off as objective criteria for quality can often be something very subjective. You can compare it to wine or whiskey (or anything that has some artisanal dimension). There are obviously bad whiskeys, but among the good ones, a lot of this is about preference and taste. Brooks Brothers’ ties, for example, don’t have any the artisanal detailing, but they’re still excellent and cost a fraction of what luxury-end makers charge. If you wait for their sales, you can get them at ~40% off. Likewise, there’s no reason to debate whether Cappelli is better than Vanda, as they each offer a different “taste.” 
Like with almost anything, the only way to really figure out what you prefer is to try things in every tier. If you try enough things, you’ll eventually develop an opinion. If you’re at a store that sells cheap, polyester ties, try one on. If you come across a Drake’s or other similar luxury-end brand, also try one on. It would be impossible know what people mean by “better drape” or “better knot” until you do. Or, more importantly, whether you care about such things enough to pay the premiums. 
Picture above taken from E. Marinella

Quality as Taste

A friend of mine recently asked me for my opinion on what makes a well-made tie, and the conversation got me thinking about quality in general. You often find men on various online forums debating which items are better made than others. Some even go through the trouble of making incredibly detailed hierarchal lists. There are objective and subjective criteria for judging quality, however, and I think one should be careful not to confuse the two. 

For example, you should only buy ties that easily return to their shape after they’ve been knotted and unknotted. If they don’t, terrible creases can form along the neckband, which will eventually make them difficult to wear. Something like this would be an objective dimension to quality. 

Then there is the subjective, by which I mean things that are very open to taste. For me, I like a tie that dimples well, but I’ve seen a few smart dressers who wear ties without one. In addition, I like my ties to arch a little, then drape down, and have some gentle movement to them throughout the day. The fabric, in my opinion, looks best when it shows off its natural characteristics. I also prefer slightly smaller, elongated knots, although this isn’t always easily found. These characteristics – the dimple, drape, and knot – all have to do with the material, lining, and cut.  

Outside of that, there are small, artisanal details. E&G Cappelli ties, for example, have more visible handstitching and Vanda’s have a higher bar tacks so that you can easily peek at the folds. However, there are also makers who don’t exhibit any of these qualities, such as Drake’s or Ralph Lauren, and they’re still excellent ties.  

What some people pass off as objective criteria for quality can often be something very subjective. You can compare it to wine or whiskey (or anything that has some artisanal dimension). There are obviously bad whiskeys, but among the good ones, a lot of this is about preference and taste. Brooks Brothers’ ties, for example, don’t have any the artisanal detailing, but they’re still excellent and cost a fraction of what luxury-end makers charge. If you wait for their sales, you can get them at ~40% off. Likewise, there’s no reason to debate whether Cappelli is better than Vanda, as they each offer a different “taste.” 

Like with almost anything, the only way to really figure out what you prefer is to try things in every tier. If you try enough things, you’ll eventually develop an opinion. If you’re at a store that sells cheap, polyester ties, try one on. If you come across a Drake’s or other similar luxury-end brand, also try one on. It would be impossible know what people mean by “better drape” or “better knot” until you do. Or, more importantly, whether you care about such things enough to pay the premiums. 

Picture above taken from E. Marinella

Vanda Fine Clothing

I received a special package last week containing an order from Vanda Fine Clothing. Inside was a selection of items from their first official production run - a brown wool necktie, Japanese kimono silk pocket square, and two orchid lapel pins in my university colors. The pocket square and lapel pins are really nice, but the showpiece for me was the tie. It’s a six-fold, unlined necktie made from an English, Huddersfield wool. It has a dark brown glen plaid pattern with a faint blue overcheck, and it goes wonderfully with my grey flannel sport coat or navy blazer. 

Since Vanda’s ties are all either unlined or made with just a light interlining, they drape and knot very uniquely. Hardy Amies once said that “Good design and making of clothes must always honour cloth; must disturb cloth as little and possible … Undisturbed cloth makes the wearer appear at ease and is pleasing to the eye of the viewer.”  Vanda’s ties strike me as very much “honoring cloth.” Their silk ties feel lighter and airier than other silk ties on the market, and their wools have more heft and drape. The edges aren’t pressed, so they naturally roll, as you can see above and on their website. The result is a very unique tie that indeed feels more at ease. 

Granted, an unlined tie isn’t for everyone, but if you’re an enthusiast for this kind of stuff, you’d be remiss to not try it at least once. I’m already looking forward to my next order. 

Vanda Fine Clothing


Diana Chan and Gerald Shen have been selling well-made, handrolled pocket squares to discerning customers at StyleForum for the last two years. Last summer, they began making neckties under the name Vanda Fine Clothing. Whereas most new neckwear companies rely on a faux-heritage image or “Made in the USA” label to sell their wares, Vanda is about quality in the way that I think a more thoughtful customer can appreciate.

Over the summer, I was lucky enough to get one of Vanda’s first designs. It’s a completely handcrafted, half-lined, six-fold tie made out of Adamley silk, one of the best mills in the world. The edges of the tips are handrolled, which give the tie an artisanal feel, and the half-interlining makes the it feel a bit lighter. Most ties you’ve come across have a full piece of wool or cotton interlining. This gives them a meatier feel and heavier drape. Vanda’s ties, however, feel a bit more airy and scarf-like, and they wear in a more unique way.

Admittedly, such construction won’t be to everyone’s taste. If you’ve never worn an unlined or half-lined tie, you may find it’s a bit too light for your liking. However, if you’re an enthusiast of men’s clothing and style, I strongly recommend you at least try one out. For some people, including me, once you’ve worn one, it’s impossible not to get more. I appreciate such ties in the way I appreciate mechanical watches. They take more time, silk, and handwork to make, and I take pleasure in knowing how they’re crafted. I also find that Vanda’s ties yield a deeper, more handsome dimple, and since the edges aren’t pressed flat, they have nice rolling edges, which give them a fuller three-dimensional shape. 

I’ve liked my tie so much that I recently ordered another from Vanda’s webstore (I bought the brown glen plaid made of Huddersfield wool). I also recently had a chance to speak to Gerald about the new company, their ties, and Vanda’s future plans.

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