j^cause it allows for highly detailed motifs w hile pro\ idiiig an incomparable richness of hand, the woven silk tie is regarded as the ne plus ultra of male plumage The weaving process tempers a color's innate brilliance by incorporating it into a complex surface interlacing niak ing the woven four in hand the dressiest of all necktie silks Although wxnens represent .1 small percentage of the total neckwear produced each year, they have returned to favor along with hand tailored clothes and bench-crafted foonvear.
Here s a classic example of how England came to set the standard in international men s >n le for the better part of the twentieth century The Macclesfield necktie, a silk group of patterns made from small weaves of diamonds, squares, and circles, became especially fashion able among well dressed British men in the early 1920s. These small geometries were first made in contrasting tones of gray, black, and w hite. gi\ inga marquetry effect across the surface of the tie They were the specialty of the textile weavers from Macclesfield, a small town in Lan cashire. northwest England.
\mong the world's sartorial literati, the Macclesfield necktie continues to enjoy its longstanding reputation as the quintessence of upper-class English taste. Parenthetically, it is the only genre of traditional neckwear to retain its original metaphorical imagery. Referred to as a
wedding tie in certain circles, this silver) necktie began its venerable career as the obligatory Ion .: ne lor formal da\ attire, meaning weddings and otherda\ time celebrations. As smart lounge clothes began to solicit it^ compan). the dress) Macclesfield necktie found its elite services bro.iden to include the embellishment of other less formal ensembles.
From royalty to rodeo, here's a pictorial histoirc (opposite, below, ami on the following page) ol rhe Macclesfield's rise to sartorial stardom, beginning with the Baron Nicolas de Gun/berg, socialite Vnthonx Prexel Biddle. and I lollywood's Robert Montgomen and Gary Cooper.
\\ hile there are a myriad of woven necktie patterns, only a handhil have won time honored places ol correctness and affection in the gentleman's wardrobe. One of the most !V!n»\ ned is the Spitalsfield tie. yet another contribution ol England's legendary Bond Street style 10 permanent neckwear fashion. Rising to prominence beside its silver Macclesfield confrere in the 1950s, this woven necktie was also named for the tow n that produced it. Spitals field. 011 the outskirts ol London.
I he Spitalsfield design originally distinguished itself from the Macclesfield by its slight I) fancier and larger motifs, which were arranged in allover settings of two . three-, or four color combinations This more versatile type of silk design constitutes the backbone of Britain's high class woven neckwear \o longer made exclusively in this small London town, woxen neckties of the Spitalsfield t\ pe are now manufactured all over the world.
THIS PAGE: Gar)' Cooper dressing up a sport jacket with a Macclesjicld necktie.
OPPOSITE: Cary Grant crossed a button down shirt with a double breasted suit and a SpitalsJ'ield necktie.
Dean Acheson wearing a Spitalsfieldtype necktie.
I lore. Dean Acheson relies on the firm hand of his attached tab collar to dovv nplay his sagging neckline while the classiness of his Spitalsfield necktie plays up his diplomatic urbanity
The Regimental Canard British by derivation regi mental stripes have been continuously used in tie designs since the 1920s. Before the days o! universal khaki, all British regiments had a color scheme ol their own. seen at its most ty pical in the mess jackets of the officers.
English regiments wore cravats decorated w ith stripes in their regimental colors. This gave rise to what is known as the regimental tie. which features colored stripes on the diagonal a feature insepara ble Irom British uniform design, \firer returning to civilian life British men wore the ties ol their former regiment, and. frequently no other One point ol long standing contention between blades from the other side ol the herring pond was the colonists alleged sartorial violation ol having their stripes run counter to those of the king'v men Follow ing both historical precedent and aesthetic logic, English tie stripes ran from left shoulder down toward the right ^de This direction coincided w ith the male jacket's traditional left -over- right fastening (thus prevent ing the coat's front from interfering with a soldier s unsheathing of his sword f rom his left side) One hundred years ago. when Brooks Brothers first introduced the I nglish regimental tie to the States, in deference to the originals, they had theirs cut in the opposite direction (high right to low left). Apparently. Englishmen belonging to certain British regiments got very touchy about seeing their precious colors around the necks of American tourists. 1 lere is F. R. l i ipler s play on words over the "American Way "of its stripes.
At odds with the prevailing taste for whimsy, classic striped neckwear had been out of favor for some time. I low ever, as a result of Italy's tie designers loosening up Britannia's conventional stripe arrangements and color combina t ions. striped neckwear is in a ten aissance. Designer I uciano Barbera (page 14s) could have chosen any type of necktie for this outfit, but
The unusually smart designs and actual color combinations of the English school ties, called "Old Bors," woven fine especially /or triple*. And in all silk repp. Very handsome—broad range of patterns for blue, grey or brown suits. They just can't miss— they arc tops for that gift. Let triple r make your selection with folded silk throughout, $4.25 each When ordering by mail state colon» of »uit». Early «lectioo «dviaabk
madison ave.vue at forty-sixth st. xew york 17» *• y lie opted for .1 stripe One would be hard pressed to find anything regimented. derivative. or predictable about its design. n Inch is probably w h\ he chose it. Note the proper direction of his stripes, high left to low right.
Vnother reason for the stripes habitual presence under the better arrayed chin is its diagonal dynamic. The smart dresser understands that an) line that angles across the bodv also works to slim it In the striped neckties case, its oblique pattern magically chisels away breadth and softness rrom the face, an advantage much prized by its devotees.
There's another compelling illustration ol why men of loftier social plateaus tend to lean toward the stripe its infatuating swagger. Below, film actor Reginald Gardiner employ s his stripe to punctuate his expanse of blue serge, w hile each of its forty five degrees reinforces the diagonal symmetry of his double breasted suit. Book-ending wife Benita on the left. Ronald Coleman engages the broad repeat of his necktie's stripe to harmonize w ith Ins sport jacket's oversized plaid.
Striped neckties chisel away breadth and softness from the face.
Striped neckties chisel away breadth and softness from the face.
The Plaid Tie whether printed or woven, silk or wool, the plaid necktie lias always attracted the traditional ist by virtue of its rich Scottish heritage The first plaid ties were made ot wool, because of the motif's association with tartan kilts. I low ever, the authentic I lighland plaids were gent rilled into dressier silk versions for town wear. What distinguishes the plaid from other necktie motifs is its mul tilayered boxlike design, which creates the illusion of dimension. When mated with a stripe or a different scale check, the plaid's depth of field produces a rich and nuanced nattiness. I lore's a man w ho knows how to make a solid suit and dress shirt appear less plain. Power's high contrast colored necktie also sax es his ow 11 strong complexion (dark hair and light skin) from appearing less so.
Solid Neckwear This next statement might seem somewhat of an oxymoron, bur the more sophisticated a man's tastes in clothes, the more solid neckties he's likeh to own. Like the tuxedo's chic, w hich depends on onl\ two col -ors. the solid necktie becomes virtually indispensable if one favors the quiet asserriveness of the simple two tone kit (See Douglas Fairbanks and Gianni Agnelli, chapter I. "Per manent Fashion. ) George I rasier. Esquire's fashion pundit extraordinaire, had a personal love affair with the solid black grenadine necktie, as did former Barney's New York ow ner. I red Pressman. You could make book on Pressman show ing up in one of his classic gra\ flannel or tan gabardine ensem bles accompanied by his ever present black grenadine four in hand pinned just so askew into his blue dress shirt. The perennially soigne entertainer Bobby Short ow ns a collection of solid navy and solid black fanc\ woven silks that undoubted!} outnumber those of Porter. Gershwin, and Ellington combined.
The second rationale for a wardrobe replete with interesting solid neckwear is the pat tern prerogative. As the aficionado ascends the pattern on pattern staircase, the solid nccktii often becomes his best friend. Someone once facetious!) described the British approach to male decor as that which employed the largest number of colors without clashing For those men inclined to push the pattern envelope, the solid tie has saved man) a neck from overh ambitious decoration.
W ool Neckwear The Italians have interesting style karma I mpowered by their design virtuosity. with one hand the\ managed to inundate the tie wearing world in a sea ol intrusive prints while with the other they managed to produce enough high class neckties to keep from drow ning in their ow n commercial effluvium Besides rescuing the stripe from certain extinction, they can also be credited w ith the stylish male's current appreciation of luxury wool neckwear.
FortunatcK for the outside world, each of Italy's cities contains pockets of social!) prominent, style savvy businessmen w ho happen to be passionate about apparel of exceptional qual-ir and understated taste. Were it not for this discriminating segment in the Italian mens market, many non-Italian men would not be privy to such rarefied taste and wearables.
Not to be contused with the inexpensive wool country necktie of Fndish notorietv. this is a totallv different animal.
I land sewn in loo percent worsted cashmere or blends of cashmere and silk, this small knotting, sinuous strip of tactile delight injects another layer of textured richness into the flannel suit or luxury sport jacket ensemble. : lere we ha\c the embodiment of Italian brio. Gianni Agnelli, who likes his herringbone wool tie so much that he wears it over his cashmere sweater. Looks perfectly kosher to me.
Long an advocate on this side of the Atlantic for this cool weather neck regalia, the author weighs in w ith one of his early wool orchestrations. Fortunately, a groundswcll of enthusiasts now understands the wool tie's textural cachet as well as its change of silken pace.
Dm ssi so Thf Man lie f irst printed fabrics actual!) show ed up around man's throat in the form of formal silk multiers sometime in the late nineteenth century It wasn't until the early 1920s that the first geometric designs printed on a pure silk twill began to make the rounds of the culture's more fashionable necks. From there, the transition to neckties was almost automatic if some what limited. In its formative years, the stamped or applied method of making patterned cloth was considered inferior to permanent!) weaving the design direct!) into the cloth s surface
Because it is less expensive to produce than the woven and can accommodate decora tive motifs of everv conceiv able variety, print neckties are the largest selling category of neck wear. By the 1960s, the export of printed silks to the vast American market unleashed a veritable explosion in the quantity and diversity of fabric designs, which in turn prompted fur ther innovations in the production process.
In the eighties, computer driven technology presented the print designer with a vir tual blank canvas 011 w hich he could record and instantaneously reproduce any or all creative impulses. Whether in the name ol wearable art. entertainment, or simple shock the net result was that after two decades of neckties as comer sation starters, the printed necktie undermined itself as an adjunct of male elegance while debasing the neckwear taste of an entire culture for the moment, should a man want to acquire a necktie w ith a reasonable probability of aesthetic longev ity, the woven design tie would generally be the safer bet.
That said, there are still a wealth of figu rative motifs and genres ol print ties that tran scend the vagaries of fashion, l ike the well cut gray flannel suit, these neckties retain their stv lish-ness bv v irtue of their incontestable good taste
ChaRVET Prints With the affluent in the 1920s and 1930s spending more and more rime on vacation, resort dressing became a principal sourcc of fashion inspiration The wealthy I uro pean embraced a summery looking rie conceived by the famous Parisian shirt and cravat maker C harvet This light and breezy necktie feamred motif> that perfectly capftired the holiday mood of its em irons
Meanwhile, in the late twenties, the white summer suit began to gain acceptance in r.ilm Beach and around several \merican universities. I he neutral toned suit demanded some strong contrast and like their European counterparts, smart Americans took to the Charvet tie like ducks to water \lthough the fashionable man general!) avoided bold neckwear, this excep tion to the rule gained the favor of those w ell dressed society men w ho ordinarih held closely to small and conservative effects in their neckwear. Its chic was in their unfussy, nonchalant bearing. Id the delight of their man) admirers, the Charvets' open settings facilitated blending with all I: ads of fanc\ suits, from houndstooths to stripes to plaids of almost any size or design. I he original i liarvet prints became the first, and regrettabl) almost the last, bold figured necktie to s\ m bolize upper-class taste W ith the exception of Emilio Puccis large, all-over print ties in the 1950s selected Hermes scarf ties, and the odd Ralph Lauren and Garrick Anderson necktie prints (two of \merica s best purveyors of the past), the preponderance ol large-figured print neckties could probabl) be termed nois\ rather than nice.
Radio personality and comedian Fred Allen hosting the famous Amos n'Andy team. Up to their neck in Charvets. these boys knew how to entertain millions with wit and intelligence, words that could aptly describe their neckwear.
Dots and Other All-Over Neats As the earlier prim design used in inenswear. the polka dot is supposed to have been a tribute to the Sun Ciod Along with small geometric shapes, dots were the first to enliven mens ties Previously used exclusively for female dress, the polka dots transformation into a man's motif owes a debt ofgratitude to one Sir I homas I ipton. a successful London businessman and inveterate yachtsman who always wore a navy bow tie with white dots of his own design. Polka dot ties enliven all kinds of menswear ensembles, but the) are on particularly friendly terms with strips \ dotted tie is .1 j natty foil to the chalk stripe suit r)rtssi\c.
TH E Pa IS L E Y l )ue to its origins, w hich date back to Baby Ionian civ i li/ation. and its association with I nglish taste, paisley enjoys a special status hi the world of male neckwear. In his controversial seventies book Dress for Success. New York image consultant John Mollov opined that certain neck ties had that "Ivy 1 eague cachet, because they signified good breeding and education Of all the loud neckties, he deemed paisley the only permissible one. because it w as the "fun tie' of the upper middle classes. Freud thought that a paisley patterned tie s\ mbolized v iriliry. since it resembled sperm.
The paisley motif provides for rich opportunities of color nuance and formal invention and therefore can realize its lull complexity only through the printed medium, jimmy Stewart shows off his pattern-mixing prowess with a dress down ensemble of striped shirt, glen check sport jacket and foulard four in hand. (See also Dean Acheson s woven paisley tie. page 39.)
CLUB AND SPORTS In the introduction to his book Ties, the emi nent I nglish costume historian lames Laver pointed out that the earliest recorded set of sporting colors belonged to the I Zingari Cricket Club, which was founded around 184s by a group of young Cambridge University students w ho enjoyed both the game and amateur theatricals. They would rendezvous at the Blenheim I lotel on Bond Street. Sometime thereafter, a set of colors w as adopted that could be printed on a flag and flown ov er the pavilion during their matches. They chose black, a carroty bright red. and gold to symbolize "out of darkness, through lire, into light." In 1870. w hen they came to adopt a tie. it naturally embodied the same colors.
Another category of figurative motifs that began w ith a British inflection was the allover sport tie. First gaining popularity in the early 1920s, it was issued in small editions of subject-related patterns printed on wool challis. Each theme provided its devotees with an excuse to wear small sports figures that signified one's social status as a polo player, golfer, and so on.
It took the celebrated French designer I lenri d'Origny. a pas sionate horse lover to put the sports tie back in the saddle when he released his famous equestrian designs for I lermes in the 1950s. Today, the classic I lermes tie has branched out to other subjects, such as palm trees, elephants, and bal loons, garnering a following around the world even among men who normally eschew any form of identifiable attire. I11 much the same way that the I lermes tie's narrow width defies fashion and most men's physiques, this icon's seemingly contrarian image works to its advantage. For the investment community and other "suits its familiar I lermes design argot has made it the world's newest old boy s club tie. (See also Prince Charles's tic. page 128.)
Jimmy Stewart in a paisley necktie.
bottom: The sports motif four- in hand.
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