One of the easiest ways to rev your wardrobe is with a necktie upgrade. A well-made necktie will tie better and look better than its cheaper cousins. By now you’ve mastered the four-in-hand, the only tie knot you need. Now you need the right ties to tie.
Quality and versatility is our mantra. As with dress shirts, you don’t really need very many ties. (Although over tie it’s hard not to have even quality ties pile up a bit.) Your ties should be made of natural fibers, usually silk, and fall into the range of 3.25″-3.75″ wide (3″ wide can be acceptable, but be wary of ties narrower than 3″).
The most basic, and versatile, of ties is the solid necktie. Solid ties took a credibility hit when Regis became their most high profile proponent a decade ago. We do not want to pursue the Regis look, certainly.
With solid ties you want to avoid shiny and slick (like Regis), rather you want surface texture to add visual interest. Note how these timeless style icons embrace the solid tie. Sean Connery keeps his look clean and simple.
Cary Grant is sporting a knit tie, which the James Bond of the novels also wore. The knit tie is wonderful for sport coats and blazers, but also gives a suit a devil-may-care air. You often see them with squared ends, and they tend to run narrower than standard ties.
A more formal solid tie than the knit is the grenadine, which has a similar texture, but is woven and made using traditional tie construction. Grenadine and knit are by no means the only solid tie options. There are other textured choices such as oxford weave, twill, honeycomb and basketweave. Ties made of silk is the standard (avoid cotton knits), but cashmere and linen ties can be wonderful for seasonal diversity.
For solid ties, start with black and navy, then add a burgundy as time allows. We’ll discuss more tie basics in the coming days, but one could do very nicely with solids alone.
Where to buy: Solids are relatively easy to find right now, especially knits. The challenge is finding acceptable options on a budget. Online sources include Mr. Porter, Kent Wang, Howard Yount and, as a budget option, The Tie Bar. If you want full made-to-order flexibility check with Sam Hober.