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To Tie For
For gentlemen, there is one garment that can bring you everything you want: women, wealth, and old-fashioned respect. Sadly, it’s been given a bad rap by the cool kids who wear puffy sneakers and overpriced North Face jackets which they begged their Mom’s for. This powerful, fine, finicky, tricky, and widely misunderstood article is the tie. And here’s some news: ties are officially cool again. So here it is, boys; the freshest, barest guide on how to loosen up, knot it up, and strap on some manhood.
First, let’s dispel some myths.
Myth Number One: Ties developed from medieval napkins worn around the neck.
The truth: Ties are thought to descend from a small, knotted, blood-red scarf worn by Croation mercenaries in the 1600’s. These were big, bad, scary dudes, and the French were so impressed by them that they adopted the “cravat” into their wardrobe, right after they changed their pants.
Myth Number Two: Ties are for senators and formal events.
Truth: It’s informal moments when the tie truly shines. Unbutton that collar, pull that tie down, and show people that even playtime is business time. Plus, it’s sure to designate that you’re not from the Jersey shore.
Myth Number Three: Ties are fat, uncomfortable, and ugly.
The Truth: You’ve been wearing your dad’s ties, most of which your mother bought him for Christmas (for some reason taste is destroyed after birthing a second child). There are as many ties out there as there are personalities. My advice, to start out is: go for the Kettle One look and get yourself a thin, flat-black, silk tie. String it around a comfortable white shirt and you’re the boss, hoss.
Now that we’ve stripped down some old ideas about this all-important wardrobe element, let’s dress up some new guidelines:
Learn to tie a four-in-hand. It’s the only knot you’ll ever need. Its slight asymmetry really sets an outfit strait. And unless you’re a professor in Britain or a Nazi General, avoid the Windsor. It looks like an inflated dorito.
Thin is in. Think MadMen meets Justin Timberlake. A thinner tie shows attention to detail and a boldness that demands attention and respect.
Keep it simple. A patterned tie (particularly striped or club-style) looks great, but anything beyond that is noisy and obnoxious. Avoid the paisleys, and by all means, cartoons.
Splash it with color. A brightly colored tie can look like a brush stroke from God leading right up to your face. Frame it in a more quiet-colored jacket or shirt and it’s money.
Well there it is, men. That’s the brunt of it. Other advice is out there, but anything beyond that is semantics. When it comes down to it, it’s all about attitude. Make no mistake, a man’s outfit reflects his personality just as much as any woman’s does hers, and the tie is a powerful element with which to make a statement. It would be truly outstanding to see more young men proudly and loudly sporting ties. Perhaps it should be scheduled one day a week into the dress code. Imagine a school in which the fear of ties was erased and replaced with appreciation and we all looked up to Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart. Any bum can jaunt to his Escalade in a polo, but it takes a guy who knows just what he’s got and how to use it who lets his tie flap in the wind as he steps proudly into a VW. The tie is all that is man.