It doesn’t bear repeating that the neck tie features in fewer men’s daily wardrobes now than it did half a century ago: quite enough digital ink has been spilled on this subject already. It’s true that all but the most traditional offices have eschewed the tie, and certainly there are few bars or restaurants left in any of the world’s major cities that will turn you away for choosing to arrive open-collared (in fact, one well-known group of private members’ clubs has become notorious for refusing to admit patrons should they turn up in their favourite silk knit). All of this, when viewed together, might appear to be the death knell of the neck tie. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
Most people think of a navy tie as the most basic and versatile piece of neckwear a man can own. Michael Hill of Drake’s says that 70 percent of the ties his firm produces are navy. But every tragic hero must have a fatal flaw, and the navy tie’s is that it’s not an ideal companion for two other wardrobe staples: the navy suit and the light blue shirt.
Some purchases flavor one’s wardrobe distinctively, though their proportions are small. Ties, pocket squares, and other well chosen accessories can give subtle nod to season or occasion, and change entirely the tenor of an ensemble. Or even the baritone.
I wrote last week about clothes that contrast with what everyone else is wearing – that is, clothes that are non-conformist. This post is instead about contrast within your own outfit – specifically, contrasting lightness of color.
Since the early 19th century, elegant menswear has based itself around solid colors. Still today, more than 200 years after Beau Brummell's proclamation that male clothing should be simple and austere, many men wear patterns only with reluctance, and even then only following the lead of some style icon.
“Wear a tie” is kind of like “start with a joke.” It's good advice, but you have to know your audience and occasion to execute it properly, and missteps can be disastrous. As with jokes, five is about the bare minimum of ties you should have to be prepared for any situation. But it can't be just any five. Here's one suggestion for a versatile five-tie wardrobe.