Rev Your Wardrobe | Necktie Basics, Part 3: Foulards

Most men would do well to choose more boring ties. It is a temptation to make the tie a dramatic focal point that not only pushes the boundary of good taste, but runs well past it. If you examine the great dressers you will find that their ties will not smack you in the face. Instead, they will blend into the ensemble in quiet sophistication.

Foulard ties via Petronius

Having examined solids and stripes, next we turn our attention to the foulard tie. “Foulard” originally referred to a lighter weight silk itself, but now also generally means a tie with a small repeating pattern printed on such silk.

The repeating pattern can be flowers, geometric shapes (lozenges, diamonds, etc), dots or isolated paisley shapes called “pines.” These are also known as “neat” patterns. Thus strictly one might say that foulard refers to the type of silk and neat to the type of pattern, a foulard tie with a neat pattern.

Clark Gable knew a foulard tie was a sophisticated choice.

Choose two or three foulards starting with blue then probably a wine. Make your patterns small. You are choosing a tie with tiny flowers, not a floral tie. If you choose one with dots, you want pindots, not polka dots.

The foulard is a classic tie that is appropriate in any situation, and should serve as a backbone in your tie wardrobe. After you cover the basics, you really can’t have too many.


[Where to buy: As with stripes, foulards can commonly be found in thrift shops from makers like Brooks Brothers or Robert Talbott, both quality makers. Drake’s and Marinella make wonderful, albeit very expensive, examples. Sam Hober has a wide selection of neat patterns that they will make to your specifications.]

Part 1: Solids | Part 2: Stripes

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