A Good Necktie

The next task for the Domesticated Man, immediately following a successful shirt shopping effort is – as expected – a mission to find an acceptable necktie.

The same rules that apply when shopping for a shirt (enter store informed, make purchase, get out) apply here as well. While the dazzling array of ties in your average department store can be dumbfounding, you must do your best to ignore anything garish or flashy unless perhaps you’re in showbusiness or practice law (in which case you need read no further). Keep tradition in mind. If the shirt makes the man, the necktie completes him. The tie is what people who glimpse you only momentarily will remember. Keep this in mind as you shop.

Firstly, the tie must feel good to the touch. You can instinctively tell quality, and you’ll need to pay attention to those feelings while you shop. The old rule of crumpling the silk or tugging at threads is not needed these days. And besides, those techniques are not always conclusive. Trust your instincts. Think about honest colors. Patterns that accent rather than overwhelm. Here’s what to look for when attempting to identify a quality tie:

  • The label should read “Shell fabric all silk” or “100% cashmere”.
  • Look for three-part assembly, the inner seam hand-sewn (the outer seams may be sewn by machine).
  • Both ends of the loop where the narrow end begins should be sewn into the underside of the necktie or better, dissapear into the central seam (Some say this is a matter of preference. Fine. This should be your preference.).
  • The inner-lining is very rarely (and need not be) silk.
  • Feel the tie! Quality silk. Light in weight. Never stiff. Never coarse.
  • (Optional) The tips of both ends should be lined with the fabric of the necktie itself (called self tipping)

The holy-grail of ties, the seven-fold tie, is made entirely of one piece of silk. These individual works of art are usually quite expensive, but say volumes about the man who wears one.

An additional word of advice: Wool ties are for the country, silk for the city. And never, under any circumstances, should you wear (or purchase!) a tie with a square bottom. Not even for the costume party.

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