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.
As the weather changes so does our wardrobe and many of us look forward to these transitions, but. “look forward to” may be an understatement when it comes to warm weather wear. Clothes horses everywhere begin salivating over madras, seersucker, and linen as Memorial Day (The official first day for these fabrics) draws near. However, there is one summer fabric that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the others. This fabric is Shantung Silk.
My one and only Shantung Tie.
What is Shantung?
Shantung ties get their name from, yep, you guessed it: The Shantung Province of China. Shantung silk is made from raw silk and was traditionally woven from uneven pieces of yarn. The result is a very textured slubby silk that is perfect for warm weather tie wear. Learn more over at Gentleman’s Gazette.
Who sells them?
Sometimes I think that I drop the same names again and again (J.Press, Brooks Brothers, O”Connell’s, etc) when I am guiding readers to products. This time I tried to switch it up a little bit (, just a little bit.).
The first Shantung ties that caught my eye are over at Ralph Lauren (above and here). While RL is no stranger to those interested in traditional American clothing they are often overlooked by the Trad crowd, because of their use of logos and their image as a bastion of all things preppy. However, I suggest keeping tabs on them. Especially for ties. Uncle Ralph’s Shantungs come in at 3” (A tad slim for some.) and they only offer 3 striped variations, but two of them were so well executed that they are definitely worth a look.
My Second recommendation for sourcing Shantung ties is Drake’s of London (above and here). Drake’s has an impressive number of attractive Shantung offerings such as regimentals, dots, and solids. These ties are 8cm (or 3.14962 inches) which a touch wider than the PRL ties, but they are also about $70 more expensive than the PRL ties. What I like most about their selection is the number of muted colors (like tie #1) that say summer without yelling it.
The next time you are stocking up on summer staples think about picking up a Shantung silk tie. These slubby ties pick up where your tweeds left off adding texture to your summer rigs. Whether you go with my suggestions above or hit up the usual suspects a Shantung tie is a great way to bring a piece of summer into the office without screaming GTH.