Style / March 2016

Pin it Down, Clip it Up

Whether elegantly gem-set or sterling-silver minimalist, tie ornamentation provides a dandy detail that’s classic but in no way anachronistic. With Photography by Munster

Stickpins, tie clips and tie studs get rather short shrift in Sir Hardy Amies’ gloriously arch 1964 book ABC of Men’s Fashion. Of tie pins, Sir Hardy opines like a sartorial oracle of Delphi, “The old-fashioned stock required a pin to hold it in place. Such pins, made in jewels to represent a pheasant or even carved into an antique or turbaned head, are often true works of art: and the tiny sparkle at the throat was elegant. They look quite handsome on a heavy silk tie but are quite out of place on any costume which does not include a stiff collar.”

For those rash enough to wear a tie clip, Sir Hardy disdains, “One of those little extra pieces of jewellery most men like to be given, but that not all men like to wear.” With nose aloft, he concludes, “A well cut and made tie, and above all a properly knotted tie, really lies flat without the aid of a clip. On reflection, a tie clip is really rather prissy.” Sir Hardy’s objection to tie clips could be rooted in his prejudice against American sartorial style (or his perception that no such thing existed). In 1965, he famously declared, “I pity American men. They have no time to think about clothes.”

Fortunately, Rakes make time to consider such minutiae of male elegance. Quite frankly, chaps have so little opportunity to enjoy fine jewellery over and above cufflinks, signet rings, studs and gem-set dress watches that to reject any form of tie ornamentation borders on self-denial, if not masochism. I would agree with Sir Hardy that tie clips are the most common embellishments, if only because all high-jewellery houses (and not a few low ones) continue to make platinum, yellow-gold and silver models in vast quantities, while the tie stud is a relatively rare beast; and the stickpin, an endangered species.

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James Sherwood