Fit to be Tied

Knots and necktie patterns instantly update an outfit

Aside from being perceived by many local men as an instrument of torture, the tie is a great communicator. Historically, ties indicated to sophisticates who understood their language, one’s allegiance to university, club, military regiment or heritage – the ancient equivalent of gang colors.

Past opposition to the British, for instance, resulted in American stripes starting from the high left angling toward the right when looking at the wearer, as opposed to slanting right to left.

In American culture, ties are more likely to reflect an individualistic sense of style, but as the world shrinks, a new generation of men is brushing up on old protocols, concerned about sending the right message as they make their way around the globe.

At Ralph Lauren, men’s department manager Cameron Wahineokai says, “There’s been a resurgence in wanting to learn proper protocols. There’s a lot more exposure to men’s dress on TV, and there’s a younger generation that’s not afraid to ask questions and take risks.

“Clothes make the man, and the way you dress will set the stage for the rest of your day.”

It’s not always easy to decipher the rules, as each company, depending on its own aesthetic, has its own way of tying a tie and coordinating its colors and size with other articles of clothing.

At Ermegenildo Zegna, for instance, a knot on a slant suggests the independent character of its wearer. Brioni calls for a formal knot, while the more casual four-in-hand method is well-suited to Ralph Lauren’s classic American style sense.

Wahineokai says a large, formal Windsor knot tends to call attention to itself, providing a focal point when worn with a jacket, to draw the eyes to the face of its alpha-male wearer.

“You’ll see a lot of people on TV and in financial districts around the world use them,” he says.

This would include people such as Regis Philbin and Donald Trump.

The leaner four-in-hand look tends to work hand-in-hand with an ensemble, so as not to distract from the total look.

“For us, it’s about layering textures and pattern,” Wahineokai says. “Not everyone would pair a check print with a striped tie, but that’s what we’re about.”

Demonstration by Cameron Wahineokai of Ralph Lauren

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