I have been wearing a tie and jacket to work twice a week for over two years. When I began I was asked all the usual questions about meetings, job interviews, yada yada yada (Inspired by my trad-ish friend George Costanza). Those days are now in the distant past and my tie wearing ways now go unnoticed. During the course of the last two years I have tried quite a few different combinations and I have found that wearing a tie with a shawl collar sweater may be the easiest way to wear a tie in a business casual office.
What do I mean by easy? What I mean is that it will not elicit as many unwanted comments about why you are wearing a tie (at least it did not in my experience). Perhaps this is because a sweater is much more informal than a blazer or sport coat, but also because the tie is mostly covered with a sweater so that it does not garner the same amount of attention that it would when worn with a jacket. Instead only a glimpse of the tie is given which is the perfect opportunity to wear an interesting emblematic ties such these: Ivy League Humor.
Not only does it make wearing a tie easy, but it looks good too. In general, I am not a fan of the sweater and tie look. I don’t like it with a crewneck, because there is rarely any tie exposure and the knot usually makes the neck lay funny. A V-neck Shetland can look okay, but the shawl collar’s strength is that it provides a background for the tie that is similar to the lapel of a jacket.
In preparation for this post I wore this look twice last week. The first time I wore it with cords and a wool-silk emblematic tie with ducks. I was very comfortable in this look. In my second example I went for look that is more city. This time, I wore grey wool pants and an old silk Brooksgate neat tie. Overall I found the sweater to be versatile.
The shawl collar is a good option for when you want to wear a tie in a business-casual setting such as an office or a nicer restaurant, but not a jacket. So, If you were contemplating wearing a shawl collar sweater and a tie I say go for it. If you want to wear a tie to your office, but are put off by the fuss it will receive try sneaking one in under a shawl collar sweater. If you want some cover for your Chipp FU tie it could be for you as well!
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 are considered to be a business/formal, but 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.