Few things are as understated and refined as a silk knit tie. They don’t scream for attention (especially in solid colors), but they’re appreciated with further inspection. I have a few and would be happy to own more.
I haven’t seen any good tie deals pop up on ol’ eBay, lately, but here’s a good one.
I especially love the blue one and the grey-green tie too.
By the way, ties CAN be a great gift for the men in your life. Just try to make sure your gift complements their style and their needs. (I’m probably good for ties, though. Maybe it’s time to gift some of them).
You may not be able to play the clarinet like Paul, but you can get in on the snazzy tie action. Here are a couple auctions:
eBay is THE place to find lots of ties at reasonable prices. Many printed vintage bow ties are made of rayon (synthetic silk), so they’re not often of the highest quality, so keep that in mind. With a bit of luck and vigilant searching, you can find some awesome deco ties made out of silk.
By the way, do check out the Boilermaker Jazz Band’s newest CD (linked above). 19 rock solid tracks of extremely danceable tunes (They recorded Pure Imagination!)
Happy hunting and I’ll see you on the dance floor!
Fortunately for men, it’s relatively easy to put together a versatile wardrobe. Once you own several pairs well-fitting “basics,” you can mix and match shirts, pants, jackets and accessories into numerous permutations of outfits/looks.
A great, navy sportcoat or blazer (or jacket from a navy suit) is the Swiss Army knife of your wardrobe; it goes with everything. Wear it with pressed dress pants and a crisp dress shirt (tie or not) and you’re clear for dinner at a nice restaurant. It goes great with jeans on a night out in town. Basically, it will elevate most any outfit you can throw at it. Needless to say, this is an invaluable attribute when you’re short on space, packing for a weekend of dancing.
You’ve got lots of choices here:
the gilt buttons of a blazer or the dark buttons of a sportcoat
center vent or side-vented (i.e. single or double)
hacking (angled) and/or a ticket pocket (the small pocket above the right one).
Darted or undarted
pick stitching or not
I recommend a solid, Navy jacket, but some striped jackets can work if the stripes are are thin or more subdued. Here’s an excellent example (click the photo for the auction):
This jacket would typically start at several hundreds of dollars. Why? In general, it’s made in a better way (which often means more difficult and more expensive). It’s made with high quality fabrics (Super 150’s wool). It’s probably a fully canvassed jacket (vs. fused). Plus, Purple Label is Ralph Lauren’s premier brand.
(Do yourself a favor and only button the top button of a 2-button jacket, never the bottom button If you’re wearing a 3-button jacket, button either the middle or the middle and top buttons. Again, never button the bottom button).
Four more of my favorite accessory: bow ties. As you may know, I’m a sucker for polka dots, so that blue one immediately grabbed my attention. The tartan bow tie is a bit out there, but it has those splashes of color that really catch my eye.
The terms suspenders and braces are technically interchangeable, but I tend to use suspenders to refer to the type with alligator clip ends and braces for the type that require buttons. Clips damage pants, so I always go with the button type. Whatever you call them, they’re used to suspend your trousers at waist height. Unlike belts, braces don’t have to be cinched tightly around your waist to keep your trousers in place and in fact, allow them to drape more gracefully.
Trousers worn with braces should be cut more generously in the waist (at least an inch) so the braces can be allowed to hold them up (so if you’re pants hold themselves up, they’re too tight for braces). If your trousers do not have brace buttons, it’s a simple job for a tailor: you’ll need one set of buttons in the back and two in the front, either on the inside or outside (your choice).
Back in the day, you’d never see a gentleman without his jacket on, so you’d never see his braces (or know if he buttoned them on the outside or inside). Braces were a man’s inside joke, they could have the silliest, most ostentatious designs in the world, but it didn’t matter because nobody would ever see them. Things are different, nowadays; seeing a man without a jacket is common (and it’s too darn hot to keep a jacket on all night), so you better be ready to show your braces off.
The finest braces in the world are made in the UK by Albert Thurston and Trafalgar. Albert Thurston (my preferred brand) has been making braces since 1820. They’ve been worn by princes, kings and businessmen for the last two centuries and have even been featured in Bond movies. Fine braces do not come cheap. Trafalgar Limited Edition braces (made of %100 hand-woven silk) cost as much as $195 for the full retail price. Albert Thurston braces hover around the $70-$80 range. The gems below come from an estate sale on eBay by micandgeo. (I was very tempted to bid on several of these for myself).
For the record, I have nothing against firemen (heck, I’m friends with a fireman).
I’m a firm believer that you can find just about anything on the internet, if you search diligently. The Vintage Shirt Company, based out of the UK, supplies shirts and accessories for use in period costume dramas; everything from the 1700s to the present day. A huge thanks to Lindy Shopper for pointing out this site to me.
According to their “About Us” page, “All the stock is adapted from original garments to ensure an authentic period look. Close attention has been paid to the detailing and standard of finish which means they can confidently be used in film work. We also stock a range of traditional underwear and useful accessories.”
This company features a ludicrous number of stiff, detachable collars. Detachable collars? According to the common legend, the detachable collar was invented by Hannah Lord Montague in Troy, NY in 1827; she found that the only soiled part of her husband’s shirts were the collars, so she snipped off the collar, washed it, then sewed it back on. Nowadays, detachable collars are largely unnecessary as they are very formal and very tedious. If you’re looking to dress in a 1920s to 1940s style, detachable collars are a bit old-fashioned, even for you; detachable collars are more of a turn-of-the-century style. The World Wars forced more practicality into men’s clothing, so attached collar shirts became the norm.
It’s interesting to see shirt designs from the 1920s onward, if only so you can notice that things have remained largely unchanged since then. The “dress shirt” as we know it, was standardized by that time. Only the fabric, patterns and proportions have oscillated with the times.
As you can see, this is a pretty simple striped dress shirt, one that you might be able to find in a dozen different places.
The true advantage of this store, then, is that it is a great one-stop shop for vintage inspired accessories. They’ve got a killer collection of braces (suspenders), sock garters, scarves, handkerchiefs and gloves. These are the sorts of details that can take your looks to a higher level. Keep in mind that this one-stop shop is going to be on the pricier side, especially since they’re shipping from the UK.
Fall may officially begin with the autumnal equinox, but I know that it still feels like summer for some of you. These are some dandy brown and white spectators a.k.a. correspondents. (click the photo for the auction)
Summer’s still on my mind (since I’ve missed it all while on deployment). I’m picturing this under a cool-wearing linen or seersucker suit, white shirt, no tie and a panama hat. Oh well, they’ll be ready for you for next summer.
One of these ties popped into my saved eBay search this morning. I clicked to check out the seller’s other items and POW! These five patterned ties showed up.
Busy patterns and designs can be tricky to wear. Wear it properly and you can look very sharp. Overdo it and you risk looking like a train wreck. For ties like these, your best bet is to pair their patterns with a neutral background. i.e. now is not the time to wear your favorite gingham shirt. Wear a plain, blue or white dress shirt and you’ll do just fine. (Assuming everything fits, of course).
Proceed with caution; these ties would look very bad in the wrong hands. Happy hunting!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted some tie clips, but here goes. As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s very easy to find tie clips in several themes. This time, we’re looking at forms of transportation.
I just searched for “vintage tie clips” and found these in the first two pages of the search. It’s that easy.
This post is short and sweet. I intend to do a longer post on ties in the future, but for now, I’ll just post this lot of 5 ties.
These are wide ties, most of them hovering around or beyond 4 inches; ties that would look best tied a bit short with a tie bar and high-waisted trousers, a vintage-inspired look I saw several leads rocking at ILHC this year.
I’ll be honest, I’ll pick a self-tie bow tie over a clip on any day of the week. I like that self tie bow ties cannot be tied symmetrically; I appreciate the imperfections. (The concept of wabi-sabi has always agreed with me, I suppose). Besides, tying a tie is no longer seen as particularly difficult; clip ons feel like cheating to me. When I untie my bow tie at the end of a night of dancing, girls are pretty impressed that I know how to tie it myself. That said, clip on bow ties aren’t as much of an egregious affront to my aesthetic as say, clip on ties. Yuck.
Bow ties aren’t seen often enough anymore, relegated to the stereotypes of nerds and college professors (who can actually have great style). Bow ties are seen as unusual, but I see that as an advantage. Wear one well and you’ll be noticed. Bow ties are classy. There’s a reason they’re the first choice for black tie events. If the fear of tying a bow tie is holding you back, then go for a clip on.
No matter what, pick one that is proportionate to your face, collar, jacket lapels and everything else. (Basically, try not to look like a clown). You can usually find more interesting patterns in clip ons than self ties; in fact, most of the art deco bow ties I’ve found are clip on. Most vintage clip on bow ties you’ll find will be skinny and narrow, fitting the style of the slick, “modern,” Jet age of the 50s and 60s. (Think Rat Pack; though they also wore self tie bow ties).
I don’t own any clip on bow ties, but I might make an exception for some of these. As you’ll see, I’m only posting auctions with multiple bow ties (which can also be referred to as “lots”… Get it?).
Ok, I’ll be on the lookout for self tie bow ties next time. Happy hunting!