Style / March 2018

The Anatomy of the Tie

From the tipping to the fold, sartorial menswear expert Chris Modoo delves into the different compositions of ties.

Francesco Marino's green ancient madder silk tie is reminiscent of collegiate style but looks perfect abreast a crisp white shirt and tailored tweed jacket. Photograph by James Munro.

I started my career in menswear selling ties in Selfridges. It was a huge department on the ground floor and we sold a lot of ties. It was not uncommon for the tie department to take more money than the neighbouring shirt department. And this was just ties… no bows, cravats, scarves or cummerbunds. We had customers spending hours browsing through the rails of brands on offer, from Charles Hill and Michelsons to Ferragamo and Valentino. It was the era of the ‘designer tie’ and they were considered status symbols. Harrods had a similar department. It’s hard to imagine any contemporary store devoting a large area of premium retail space to such a small accessory.

Apart from the shell fabrics, which were mostly 100% silk, there was little difference in the shape or construction of the ties. The width of the blade varied between 3” and 3.75” and this was connected to the underside by a third piece of narrow fabric called a neck or gusset (no sniggering at the back). They were generally cut on the bias to allow them to hang straight and usually had a wool interlining. The better ties were handmade and boasted a slip stitch running through the entirety of the neck tie – a loose piece of silk thread allowing the tie to retain its shape after wear. The tipping of the tie (the lining on the underside of the blade) was usually in a branded viscose jacquard in a tonal shade. This style of tie is known as a ‘lined three fold’.

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Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.