A Bloomberg writer recently noticed some surprising copy in his J. Crew catalog: they’d widened their ties a quarter inch “to keep up with today’s changing proportions.” Now, J. Crew’s ties are still in my opinion a little anemic at under 3 inches at their widest point, but the Crew, despite some troubles, remains a decent weather vane for the changing winds of mainstream menswear, so it matters that they’re swinging the pendulum back toward a more classic width (the average width over the last 50 years is likely somewhere around 3.5 inches—most of today’s mainstream ties are a little narrower than that).
It’s a basic truth that men collect ties without really trying–you pick them up here and there and rarely cull the herd, so if you, like me, have been acquiring ties since the early 2000s you likely have a range from 2-inch knits to 3.5-inch-plus silks that feel uncomfortably broad in the post-Mad Men era.
But believe me, we are in a post-Mad Men era. Current suits often have a tad more room in the chest, lapels are getting broader, cuts longer, even some shirt collars bigger—all of which seems like good news to me. The key is in proportion—1970/80s pizza grenade ties look ridiculous out of context but really OK along with the loungier suits and bigger hair of their eras. And these changes happen literally millimeters at a time. So no need to chuck the 3-inch neckwear yet. Just know that the winds have shifted.