Friday, November 5, 2010

All Tied Up A Man's Guide To Neckwear



Written By: Grant Harris - Owner & Chief Style Consultant - Image Granted, LLC

The necktie is one of the most important and most versatile accessories a man can wear. Whether dressing up or down there is a tie for every occasion. Here we discuss the history, construction, and variety of the tie.


The Irishman, poet, prisoner, and eccentric dresser; Oscar Wilde; is famously quoted, "A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life". The history of the necktie dates back to 1600's when the Croatians defeated the Turks in battle while wearing silk handkerchiefs around their necks. The French King Louis XIV adopted the style for his royal regiment and the adornment eventually adopted the English when it became standard for men to wear some type of cloth around his neck. Over the years the necktie has evolved it its modern day form.

Attaching the Self Loop
Men's Flair

Originally all neckwear was cut from silk. A quality handmade necktie will be cut "on the bias" or against the grain of the fabric which gives the tie its three dimensional shape. The three main parts of the tie are the front or blade where the tie ends in a point; the neck where the tie is knotted; and the tail which is the smaller of the two sides. Most ties will have an additional piece of fabric sewn across the tail with its label. Tailors call this the "self loop" which holds the tail in place behind the blade. Try the Tiedown for another option to keep your tie in place.
Seven Fold Tie

The quality and price of tie is determined by the number of folds in the fabric. The average tie is folded on itself three times. The infamous seven fold tie is folded on itself seven times before it is fully constructed. This technique improves the "hand" or the feel of the tie when held. The more the folds the more easily the tie will hold a knot and its shape over time. On the tail of the blade there is small "slip stitch" joining the two folds of fabric. Upon folding back these two pieces of fabric there will be a long loop of thread. The purpose of this thread is to allow the tie fabric to move with the wearer according to each knot tied over time and return to its original shape.

On the reverse side of the bottom of the blade one will find the stitching of the lining. This process called "tipping" can be done in the same color and pattern as the front of the blade or in a different color and fabric. A quality handmade tie with the proper maintenance will afford the gentleman several years of enjoyable wear.


Neckwear can be had in several varieties of fabrics, colors, knits, prints, widths and shapes. Look for these options.


These are the most commonly found fabrics of neckties:
1. Silk - Most widely used and accepted
2. Wool - Best option for fall and winter ensembles
3. Cashmere - Most luxurious and exspensive option
4. Cotton - Least exspensive and most versatile fabric
5. Linen - Light and durable. Best worn during summer months


Ties can be found in any and all colors in the color wheel but to build a foundation a gentleman only needs the following:

1. Blue - Standard for business professionals
2. Black - Standard for formal events
3. Brown - Good option for country and/or weekend wear
4. Red - Wear this color to make a bold statement
5. Yellow and/or green - Wear during warm months as a playful option

Knit or Print

A knit tie is woven from a fabric such as silk or cashmere and has the design or graphic sewn into it. A printed tie has the design or graphic printed on the fabric itself and is not sewn in. A gentleman should have both in his wardrobe.

Silk Woven Knit Tie

Silk Printed Tie
Length, Width, and Shapes

Most ties come in length up to 58 inches, but extra long ties are available for men who are above average height. Tie width seems to change from generation to generation. From wide in the 70's, to skinny in the 80's, to standard in the 90's. Today ties have seen a migration back to the slim variety among younger professionals. However, the standard width accepted in most environments is 3 and 1/4 inches at its widest point. Most skinny ties will measure 2 and 1/2 inches at the widest point. Most ties worn in a professional environment will end with a pointed blade. However, many ties end a flat bottom. This is seen mostly on silk knit ties and is reserved for a casual environment.

Whether blue collar or professional, the necktie is an indispensible piece of any man's wardrobe and should be chosen with care, tied with dignity, and worn with ease (even when you don't have to). Stay tuned for our next segment on neckties where will discuss which knots to wear and how to wear them.

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Written By:
Grant Harris
Owner & Chief Style Consultant
Image Granted, LLC

"Dressing Men for the Life They Want"

Grant Harris, MBA
Phone - 703.554.9184
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