Knit Picking: Textbook Ties
Whether for an interview, night-out or formal event, Cathal O’Gara explains the importance in choosing the perfect neck-tie.
The perfect men’s tie can be what makes or breaks an outfit. But with the countless amounts of fabrics, patterns, and colours to choose from we are left with a difficult decision which often goes wrong. For most of us, the result is a small collection of similar, simple and safe coloured ties. While there is nothing wrong with choosing this easy look, with the correct styling can inject some charm which is essential for most ‘classic’ men’s looks.
A solid coloured tie is the easiest style to match. Simply select a block-coloured tie and match it to one of the colours in your outfit and you’re ready for a sophisticated night out on the town. Beware though, along with this minimalism comes the danger of over coordination, a faux pas which is preferably avoided. Avoid black tie/black shirt combinations and instead pick something which can live up your attire; oxblood, cobalt blue even a metallic-coloured tie can achieve this.
Equally classic is the men’s stripe tie, which is easily matched with solid suits and shirts by selecting a stripe that compliments. In the case of a patterned jacket, shirt, or both, the key is to maintain colours that compliment and add a sense of harmony to your outfit. A finely pinstriped suit calls for a boldly striped tie, while a strong checked shirt would be better suited by a more subdued stripe. One note of caution about striped ties: ensure your colours don’t affiliate with any local college-colours (I’m all for pride and patronage but you will end up looking like an extra in Hogwarts).
Polka dots, paisley, and figure – ties which consist of small repeating images and patterns – have become much more common over the years. If chosen with good taste, shunning ostentatious colours and designs, these ties can enliven any solid-coloured shirt. Ties like these should be coordinated in your outfit by their primary colour, with attention paid to avoiding secondary colours that visibly clash with the shirt.
A great statement-fabric when organizing a political march, the knitted-tie is back and it’s here to stay. This should be worn with the plainest shirt as possible and become the focal point of your outfit.
Always look for quality material and decent construction when choosing a tie, and avoid anything that appears poorly made. A good tie can last a lifetime. The most common tie textile is silk, and for most it is considered unequal in its field. Beware of cheap polyester impostors (the devil in disguise); polyester doesn’t hold the same drape as silk, and has a sheen that leaves a lot to be desired.
With attention to detail and an eye for sophistication, you can quickly become a master at selecting the perfect tie to complete your savvy ensemble. While the solid silk option is a safe and classic choice, don’t be afraid to take a risk with bold designs and textured fabrics. Ties made of tweed are a great way of mixing up the heritage trend with a more formal aspect. Novelty ties are best avoided, unless you’re dressing up as ‘off-trend’ this Halloween. If you really want to impress, the Keeling Gallery have a range of hand-painted bow-ties from Jack Kirwan with a range of designs from Gogh’s Starry Night to Monet’s Poppies. These require a certain sense of swag to pull off but are remarkable accoutrements nonetheless.