Having added two or three solid ties to your basic wardrobe, let us now look at striped ties. Striped neckties developed from British regimental, college, “Old Boys,” and club ties. Members of particular groups identified with selected stripe patterns. If you wore a striped tie, others with your same group affiliation would recognize you as one of the boys. Only those within that group could wear–and often even buy–their tie.
Leave it to Americans, however, to thwart convention and begin wearing striped ties illicitly. Brooks Brothers dodged the impropriety issue by making their regimental ties with the stripes going the “wrong” way from their British counterparts. Brooks Brothers also developed their own pattern schemes that had no affiliation other than with Brooks itself, which now have become classics themselves.
These days, few (Americans) give any thought to wearing a regimental tie. Some still object to wearing them out of respect to tradition. Yet others wear the ties, often of long defunct regiments, in honor of those groups, even if they were not a member. Most just think the ties look nice. Still, it might be best to reserve your regimental tie wearing, at least for those of genuine regiments and colleges, to this side of the pond.
Regimental ties are often made in a repp weave (a small ridged weave), and thus frequently referred to as “repp ties.” But regimental ties can also be made of such materials as Irish Poplin (a silk-wool blend) or wool.
The most comprehensive online catalog of regimental ties can be found at Ben Silver. It’s fun to browse them all, but the choices can be a bit overwhelming.
If I were to recommend three basic striped ties I would start with the Brooks Brothers #1 stripe (burgundy & navy colorway) followed by the Argyll & Sutherland. Add a tie with a navy ground like the Drake’s pictured below. With a tie like the Drake’s the only group you will declare affiliation with is those of refined taste.
I personally find regimentals work particularly well with blazers and tweed sportcoats, but there’s no reason not to wear them with suits. Everyone ought to have two or three classic striped ties in his wardrobe.
[Where to buy: Brooks Brothers and Ben Silver are reliable go-to shops. Also keep an eye on Land’s End, which can have some surprisingly nice ties on sale. If you’re a thrifter (and I recommend it), regimental ties can be found in abundance very cheaply. Look for made in the USA (or England), and avoid polyester.]