The Ties that Bind
The pandemic did nothing to help neckwear
You’ve probably spent more time than usual in some sort of comfort wear during the pandemic.
Sweats, yoga pants, shorts, maybe even pajamas. Because, let’s face it — other than Zoom calls from the shoulders up, no one was seeing your outfit.
While this was incredibly freeing, it was also kind of sad. It removed that sense of personal style and pride that accompanies commuting to an office to interact with other grown-ups.
Ties have long been part of men’s wardrobes. I won’t go into the history, but they’ve managed to stay around for hundreds of years.
With the advent of the pandemic, my suspicion was that we’d see ties (and suits) fade into oblivion, as the world readjusted itself to more casual expectations.
So I found it intriguing that when The Wall Street Journal ran an article questioning whether ties are really dead, they included a number of men who said they’d still be hanging onto their ties.
The Rake had also written “The Tie Is Dead, Long Live the Tie” in October 2021 that was even more bullish on neckwear.
For Those Who Have Lusted…
My own brand is inextricably linked with the bow tie, and many people have asked me how many I own. I knew I owned over 300 neckties, but I honestly had no idea about the number of bow ties in my collection (hint: it’s fewer), as they hadn’t been my main neckwear before I left Ford.
So during the pandemic, I determined that the best way to count them and stay connected with the outside world was to feature one tie a day.
And that’s just what I did on Instagram: I donned a different tie every day, until after 143 days, I had my total.
And I always remember the words of inveterate bow tie-wearer Charles Osgood, who, in his classic Ogden Nash style, reminded us that bow ties and trust are not oxymoronic:
For those who have lusted to be honored and trusted,
A bow tie, I say, doesn’t hurt.
For it isn’t your tie most people will eye;
It’s the soupstain there on your shirt.
If anything, the bow tie, like the neck tie these days, helps you stand out. To avoid being another sloppily- or casually-clad drone. There’s something to that, I think.
For those who are interested, Gentleman’s Gazette has a Definitive Guide for Bow Ties.
A Silver Lining
One of my favorite inspirations for combinations of color, patterns, and styles is the Charleston menswear purveyor Ben Silver. Their catalogs are colorful and inspiring, but their website contains their full inventory of neckwear, including regimental stripes, school ties, club ties and more.
They even have a primer on Ancient Madder ties, which are perfect for the autumn and winter months.
Ben Silver is not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination, but their products are high quality, and if anything, they might give you ideas for patterns and combinations to consider when you’re browsing elsewhere.
And if you’re new to ties (or perhaps forgot how to tie them during these past couple of years), here’s a quick guide on how to tie the three easiest knots:
That’s all for this edition of Classic Style. Remember, you can choose which Timeless & Timely newsletters you get right here: account settings.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.