A Rakish Guide to Ties

In an era of people forfeiting dress codes, the tie has inextricably been shoved to one side by many, but here Alexander Freeling affirms the pertinence of the tie, which The Rake has the great pleasure of selling on behalf of some of the most famous Neapolitan, Florentine and British artisans.

Ties seem like the simplest of accessories. They are, after all, only a folded length of cloth. Yet they contain all the joys of tailored clothes in miniature: a world of fabrics, each with their own origin and character, made according to a craft tradition that survives in a time of relentless automation.


How do you make a great tie? Like Italian cooking, the methods are simple, but demand quality ingredients. It starts with exceptional fabric, cut on the bias to hang straight, and properly aligned with any design or motif. A good tie should have some heft, so it falls smoothly and resists creasing. This can be achieved with finer fabrics by using interlining (that should be wool rather than synthetic) or by using extra folds. The simplest tie is a three-fold; a five-fold is more generous; and the seven-fold (Sette Pieghe) offered by the best Neapolitan craftsmen is downright indulgent. Good makers put the whole thing together with a single slip stitch running the full length of the blade.

Ties aren’t hard to fit. (The perception that they can be uncomfortable is strictly the fault of poorly fitting shirts.) Most today are between 7.5cm and 9cm in width, with 8cm being the modern standard and 9cm more of a classic look (and better for taller and larger men). The standard 150cm length will fit most, though if you’re much above 6ft tall you might look at longer models from French makers such as Hermès or go made-to-order. The most basic method to finish the tip is a piece of branded viscose, but far more satisfying is the self-tipped tie (using the same fabric as the blade) or the unlined, delicately hand-rolled tip, perfected by Drake’s.


Alexander Freeling


February 2020


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