There’s more to a good tie than nice looking fabric. What makes one perfect is more a matter of taste than clear cut rules; with different regions, families, and manufacturers all having their own take on the crafting process. Still, there are a few things the discerning shopper can keep an eye out for. Here are our top 5.
This one’s obvious. With few exceptions, you’ll want to avoid pretty much anything that isn’t pure silk or wool. And that isn’t just us being snooty – besides looking more luxurious, high quality silk or wool will better handle the wear and tear of being knotted tightly, day in, day out, and will outlast several synthetic blend ties. It also drapes more naturally, forming a better hanging knot. In this case, you definitely get what you pay for.
There are spots on a tie where a bit of machine work isn’t the end of the world, but ideally a tie should be finished almost entirely by hand. Most importantly, you want to see a handsewn slipstitch running along the backside of the blade. A handmade seam has more give than one done by a machine, which is especially desirable for two reasons. First, it makes a tie less likely to rip under the stress of a taut knot, and second, it allows enough ease of movement that a tie will relax into its original shape when hung.
Most ties are made from a fabric folded three times, then lined with a different material. Some traditional makers do a tie without interlining, from very thin silk folded up to seven times to give the same heft and drape. While delicate, the more complex design once signaled quality construction. Unfortunately, factories are now mass producing poorly made 7-fold ties. We prefer a 3-fold style with pure wool interlining. The simple folding pattern allows substantial fabrics to be used, and a natural wool lining shakes wrinkles and retains its form better than any synthetic.
Plenty of sites harp about how outdated fat ties are, but you should keep an eye out for extreme proportions on either end of the spectrum. Generally, a tie should be no narrower than 2.5″ and no wider than 3.5″. Anything outside of that range is too subject to passing trends. A tie of about 3″ has looked respectable for the last century, and is probably a safe bet for the next hundred years.
Check the tie’s keeper and tipping. The keeper is the loop on the back of the tie, used for holding the narrower end in place. Tipping is the material used to finish the exposed back of the tie and hold the interlining in place. Both should be done in self-fabric, or the same fabric used to make the rest of the tie. While mostly an aesthetic choice, cheaper manufacturers are quick to use the same generic or synthetic fabric for all of their ties to cut costs. Nice details on a tie aren’t a surefire signal of quality, but chances are if the details are off then corners are probably being cut in bigger areas, too. Also, check that above the tipped area, a sturdy horizontal bartack keeps the back of the tie sealed. Cheaper ties will be missing this detail, and are likely to unravel over time.
Naturally, all of ManuelRacim’s handmade Italian ties pass these quality checks and many more. If your collection isn’t up to par, you might consider grabbing a few our favorites.
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