We are all familiar with patchwork ties, sport coats, trousers, and shirts that are made up of Madras and even though it is not as common we have all seen patchwork items made from tweed and tartans as well. There is another patchwork item that I have only seen a handful of times.
The first time that I saw a patchwork Repp tie (pictured below) it took me a few moments to figure out what it was that I was looking at. It was difficult to recognize the striped Repp ties when the stripes were arranged in random patchwork fashion. Once I was able to make out what I was looking at I was intrigued.
Fast forward to last week when I spotted a patchwork Repp tie over at Polo Ralph Lauren (see here). Uncle Ralph’s patchwork Repp tie is not strictly made of striped ties. It also includes a few pieces of an emblematic tie. The tie is a bit slim, but it is still wearable at 3” (I find 3.25” perfect for myself). It is also a bit expensive. This patchwork tie sports a price tag of $165.
I know that patchwork items are not for everyone. They fall into the category of clothing coined by Tom Wolfe in his 1976 article for Esquire entitled “Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine,” as “go to hell” or simply GTH. GTH clothing can be polarizing and this tie is no different, but when I saw a version being offered up by Polo Ralph Lauren this season I thought that it was well worth discussing. Now comes the question, would you wear it?
Last week as I was pulling my sweaters out of storage I also started to look through my cool weather ties. While this primarily refers to wool ties I also include neats or foulards ties in this category. Neat ties are not exclusively cool weather gear, but because I almost exclusively pair them with tweed they fall into this category for me. As I was sorting through these ties I was noticed a theme. I had always known that I was attracted to neats with a pop of color, but what I didn’t know is that I have a strong preference for flower patterns.
What is a neat pattern? A neat (also commonly referred to as a foulard) is a symmetrical pattern that consists of small-scale repeating shapes such as diamonds, dots, medallions, pines, and of course flowers. A foulard is technically a kind of light weight silk, but today the term is used interchangeably with neat.
On to the flowers. A flower pattern does not look quite like an actual flower, but they do bare a resemblance. Just like real flowers they vary in size, shape, and color. I have included a few variations below to better illustrate what constitutes a flower pattern. All of the ties below also possess the “pop” of color that I was referring to above.
Neats or foulard ties make a great addition to anyone’s wardrobe. When choosing a foulard tie I look for vivid colors. What I enjoy most about the neats that I own is the contrast of vivid colors with the overall conservative appearance of the ties.
After you have a acquired a few striped ties and maybe one solid grenadine my next recommendation would be a neat tie. They work very well with suits and even thought they are considered to be a business/formal tie they look great with tweeds, and I have even used them to dress up a pair of grey wool slacks and navy blazer. I encourage you to reach into your closet and see what pattern you prefer.
The difference between a full size healthy collar that produces a wonderful roll and a collar that can barely accommodate a tie is minimal. I am talking less than 1 inch. In fact, most of my collars that produce a standard roll have collar points that measure 3.25”, but I do have a few shirts (new-ish LE Hyde Parks) that have 3” collar points, but produce zero roll. While a collar this size does not lend itself to wearing ties. It can be done. It just requires a little more thought.
The key is to match the proportions of your collar to your tie. This is no different from the consideration that you would give to tie width and lapel width. Getting the proportions right between these three elements (Collar length, tie width, and lapel width) will allow you to wear some of the skinnier or wider items in your closet with a little more ease.
Tie Width Range: 2.75″ – 3.25”
A shirt with 3” collar points works best with ties that range from 2.75″-3”. A skinnier tie has a smaller knot which works to keep the proportions in check. You may be able to get away with a 3.25” tie, but I don’t recommend it. There will be no collar roll to speak of.
3″ collar with a 2.75″ tie.
Tie Width Range: 3″ – 3.50”
3.25” is the current standard for collar points. I say this because it is the size of the current Brooks Brothers OCBD which has always defined collar roll. It is also the size of current J.Press OCBDs as well as the size of my older Land’s End Original Oxfords.
3.25″ collar points with a 3″ tie.
Tie Width Range: 3.25″ – 3.75”
Although the 3.5” collar is a rarity it does still exist primarily due to the demand of collar roll enthusiast. These shirts are usually vintage, bespoke or MTM. For example, Mercer and Son’s collars points measure 3.4375 inches. A collar this size will produce a full collar roll, but can still accommodate a 3.25” tie (with a sturdy knot). For those of you that have found that 3.5 – .3.75” ties work best for you (and collar roll fanatics!) may want to seek collar points of this length.
3.5″ collar with a 3.25″ tie.
For many of us having a closet full of collar roll producing button-down shirts is the goal, but most if not all closets have a few underachievers. Hopefully this post can help you get some use out of your button-down shirts with shorter collar points as well as a way to wear that skinny tie that you just couldn’t resist.