What is the Best Fabric for a Tie?
A fine tie is a personal statement. It is a subtle way to say everything you want to say but have too much damn class to do so. This personal touch can come in many forms; it might show you’re well versed on the right etiquette, the rules and regulations if you will of which ties fit in which settings. Maybe it shows that you’re a rule breaker. Maybe you just like the damn tie with the Pacman ghosts.
Whatever floats your boat the art of choosing the right tie ultimately comes down to balancing on the precarious tightrope of practicality vs personality and this is where the fabric comes into play.
Hold that thought, we’ll be coming back to this point.
So you want something classic, you’ve gone with a rich Burgundy colour. That can pretty well work with any outfit. Great choice. But you don’t want to look too business-like, you might want to wear this somewhere besides the office. Polka dots? Sold. Now, skinny? Necktie? Bow tie? Decisions, decisions. Can’t go wrong with the skinny, it’s the business chic look. Formal but fun. The perfect fit for a handsome bastard like yourself.
You’ve finally done it; the perfect piece has been chosen and it says everything about you. Leaving you the time to focus on the important decisions, like what are you going to get at the bar.
But you forgot one important detail; the fabric.
Relax my friend, we’ve got this covered. Welcome to the gentleman’s guide:
Tie Fabrics for the Seasons
The handsome gent is a creature of efficiency and if making the right choice ever gets too daunting the tried and true process of elimination strategy is a great place to start. Where to begin with that you ask? Why, just gaze out the window!
Remember when we said we’d be coming back to that practicality point? Well if there is any one factor that can be relied on to make the hard choices for you, it’s mother nature. Fabrics are seasonal beasts and you can quickly eliminate and streamline part of your picking process by making the right choices for the season. With that in mind, the main fabrics fall into three categories. The summer, winter and the seasonless.
It’s not all bad news, you’ve chosen your suit; a nice navy linen number to keep your cool. You’ve got your freshly ironed, crisp and clean white shirt. You’ve even decided to spruce things up and celebrate the beauty of nature with a classic red rose lapel flower.
But what kind of tie to pair with this damn fine ensemble?
If the days weather evokes a summer vibe you’re most likely going to want to go with a linen or cotton fabric. These are the two best suited to higher temperatures and brighter days as they are lightweight, versatile and pair well with other summer oriented style requirements.
If the occasion skews to the formal, linen can provide a more distinguished tone, it also offers a finer texture that will do justice to your well picked design. For the casual, the coffee shop stops and rooftop bar jaunts, the cotton option comes with all the summer positives of the linen but substitutes the distinction with an unassuming casual class, it’s the all rounder. Subtle, like a true gentleman.
Now you’re getting some ideas. In keeping with the theme you’ve even pencilled in which tie you’re going to go with; a floral. Today it’s a bow tie kind of day. Make that diamond bow tie. The Bucharest Blossom floral bow tie it is!
Winter is Coming
There’s an icy chill in the air, frost on the window, the wool suit has been selected (a nice grey). Today it’s pocket square kind of day and you’ve chosen the Burgundy Velvet.
But which jewel in the crown will finish this ensemble? How to best tie this charming, rustic look together in a way that does it proper justice?
The tones are an easy pick, with grey as the canvas the world is your oyster, but darker, earthier tones are the order of the day to suit the mood and you’ve already got the ball rolling on this with the pocket square so why not go all in?
Nice. You’ve almost pulled off the perfect winter look, but then that age old question creeps up on you; “but which fabric should my tie be here?” Chill out, kick back, we’ve got this sorted too.
The clear candidate here is of course the wool and knitted ties. Besides the obvious seasonal benefits, wool is also an excellent material to wear as it does not wrinkle easily and is quite resistant to dirt, providing a tie that is robust both in appearance and in practical application. The wool tie will give you a thick knot that will nicely complement a suit of a thicker material and is a full bodied piece in its own right. Ideal for the cold.
Slipping under the radar but an equally fine choice is the satin. With this one you will be affording yourself a bit more versatility as it does not command quite as much attention as the knits and wool, what it offers instead is a durable palette that won’t fade and affords a brighter look, easily outclassing the other winter fabrics and even silks in this regard!
Comforted by the knowledge that whether you want to go all in on the winter look or just dip your toe in there is a fabric for you, you start to relax. You pull up a cushy seat by the roaring open fire, pop a marshmallow on a stick and settle in for the night. But then it hits you. Is there a middle road that can be travelled? Is there a winter fabric that combines the engaging texture of a knit with the classic cool of the satin?
Balance thy name is Velvet.
A velvet tie offers a similar thick bodied, warm look to a wool while complimenting a colour and tying in more effortlessly to a suit in the same way that a satin does. It also brings to the table its own prestigious and opulent characteristics that have made it a fashion staple since the word fashion was first invented (which I believe was in the early 2000’s with the advent of the bucket hat). While velvet can be delicate, a velvet tie is a fine sight indeed and well worth the care it demands.
A Man for All Seasons
Now that you know how to pick a fabric for either end of the weather spectrum, what do you do for the everyday average, run of the mill scenario?
Well naturally while this guide is designed to highlight the extremes of the fabric game and set you up to learn the rules. Rules are made to be broken and one thing decidedly outstanding about the standard day is that it becomes a fashion free for all where you can where whatever you like. In these seasons you can wear all of the above with confidence. The tie is often the jewel in the crown of a fine suit and choosing the right fabric can be the difference between that jewel being a diamond or a zirconia.
For some basic rules in this regard the handsome bastard considers not only what the rest of the outfit entails, but the formality level for which they are suiting up, the occasion, the season, the quality of the accompanying suit, the materials they are already working with, the colours they want to highlight and so on. Casual? Try the wool. Wearing a dinner jacket? Might be time to whip out the Bond Black Bow Tie. Want to show off your fun side with those Pac-Man Ghost ties? Better make it cotton. Need to impress in the boardroom? That’s where you might want to factor in our final wild card; the silk.
The silk tie is the ultimate in professional fabrics. It has an incredibly fine and delicate feel, plays wonderfully off of any light source to enhance whatever design you are rocking and has, in my most humble opinion, the perfect weight and hang to it. A little like the velvet, the price here is a touch more maintenance as they can be more prone to creasing than say, a cotton equivalent, but the cost is well worth the reward.
That’s two up you have on the local weatherman.