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ALPHA MALE: Neckties For Fall

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Trends are pointing increasingly back to the importance of the necktie in every man's wardrobe. Photo: WHARF Clothing.

Does your neckwear game reflect your wardrobe's versatility, or are your hands simply tied because you cannot figure out if that Father's Day gift should make it into your weekly rotation? Whichever camp you fall into, let us together look as some of today's tie trends and modern rules of the neckwear game you need to know. And though you may not agree with all of these points, remember, all style rules are made to be broken.

Several years ago, the heritage or Americana movement began and has continued to evolve and penetrate into the mainstream and now encompasses a lot of what mass consumerism is experiencing today. Every brand you are familiar with—from Levi's to Lee, from Gap to L.L. Bean—has a diffusion line focusing on their archives or famous favorites (think Levi's 501's through the decades or L.L. Bean's duck boots and car coats). As the saying goes, "What was old is new again," and this does hold weight.

In neckwear, those archival looks have helped bring bow ties back en vogue. But do not just think of this dandy as a black tie affair. Modern bow ties are cut from all sorts of fabrics, from dobby print cottons to donegal tweed and brightly dyed linens. The modern gent expresses himself with a pop of color or texture (remember our discussions of accessories like socks or pocket squares for this too). Bow ties, for some, add that subtle talking point.

Tie Tip 1: If you can pull off the bow tie, go for a real one that you tie yourself.

The slight irregularity of an imperfect knot or end is a personal touch all your own, and the satisfaction in knowing how to tie one is a nice little benefit.

Heritage has also heavily influenced the weights of fabric and texture of ties, and seasonality plays a bigger role in selection. Think of those plaid flannel shirts made for a New England winter. They are the perfect piece to draw inspiration from for your neckwear. Many varieties of heavy weight ties exist today that compliment the textures of the season. Your closet no longer needs to be filled with just silk basics from a department store.

Tie Tip 2: Compliment the weight and seasonality of your tie to your outfit.

The heavier the fabric of your clothes, the heavier the tie. Lighter linen or cotton should be saved for warmer months while cotton flannels and wools should make an appearance after Labor Day.

If you look at the top trendsetters and designer brands today, you can gain some insight into what will become tomorrow's department store or big box themes. Heritage will still around, but it is being pushed out of its comfort zone of blocky plaids and oversized flannels and into sleeker, modernized looks. European tailoring meets colonial sensibility. That means a mix of high and low styles and trimmer fits. The same goes for your ties.

Tie Tip 3: The width of your tie should correlate to overlying pieces like the lapels on a suit jacket or blazer.

The thinner the lapel, the thinner the tie.

While suit lapels matter to your neckwear choice, no longer is a tie reserved for the office or your "Sunday best". You can sport a tie with a nice Oxford, Merino wool sweater and cropped Harrington or Baracuta jacket to go with those killer tweed trousers you bought this season. I always preach layers to make an outfit interesting and your tie can be a great contributor to this philosophy.

Tie Tip 4: Your tie colors and pattern should complement your look, but do not worry about a perfect match.

You want to look put together, but do not overthink it.

What these trends help to highlight is how there is a new style that has emerged that infuses in a serious way formal elegance with casual cool and presents now a wide variety of neckwear options. Your tie choice is a perfect example of how something once regarded as a formal staple, has penetrated the mainstream. Nowadays, feel free to sport a tie in any scenario and see how it can empower your style and confidence.

Robert Babigian is owner of WHARF Clothing & Wares, a menswear retail boutique located at 212 Westminster Street in Providence, RI. A native Rhode Islander, Rob started WHARF after 2 decades in marketing and sales to fulfill his desire to combine his loves of consumer branding, small business and style that would fulfill a niche for desirable men's clothing in the Providence market. The apparel and accessories found at WHARF reflect Rob's own personal aesthetic—a combination of traditional New England staples mixed with modern fits, construction and fabrics blended together with a touch of European style. For more tips or to shop the store, stop in and see Rob and his staff or reach them online at shopwharf.com.


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