I made a choice years ago that even though a suit and tie weren’t always required, they were always preferred. As you can probably guess I’m an archivist of traditional clothing items that I’ve owned, and many of my favorite ties have survived my selling days on the floor of trad emporium At Ease in Westwood Village.
At the height of prep hysteria, we preferred traditional Talbott repp stripes, narrow as possible, with a Gittman or Brooks Bros. OCBD’s (oxford cloth button down). We also discovered and embraced the silk (summer) or wool (winter) knit tie as an alternative to fussier patterns. While the silk are long gone, several thrift-shopped mohair Rooster knits have survived and are still in the rotation decades later.
As I strive to limit the amount of “stuff” I’m hanging onto in general, I seem to being wearing more and more of a uniform. Suits, shirts, and shoes in multiple versions of pretty much the same thing—so much so, that only I can seem to divine the subtle differences from one shell cordovan “long wing” wingtip form the next. Sure, some are dead-stock vintage Florsheim Imperials from the ‘60s, while others are contemporary Thom Browne versions aping the vintage examples. Suits are either vintage Saville Row, Huntsman, Anderson and Sheppard, Henry Poole, contemporary Thom Browne, or Brooks Brothers sack suits updated by the keen eye of T. Browne’s work under the Black Fleece label.
I’ve written about my shirt source, the one and only Freddy Vandecasteele, who has been refining both a straight collar turn back cuffed version of the my white dress shirt, or what I’ve determined is the perfect button down in either a white broadcloth or pique version.
In the search for the simple tie solution, I’m still partial to two color repp stripes, but am really only wearing solids. The knit tie choice isn’t as simple as it may seem. They’ve gotta have some heft to them to tie up right. Too thick and they’re silly, too thin and they’re ridiculous. I’d heard that the J. Press silk knit was just about perfect, and the word on the street was right.
The J. Press black silk knit tie may be the only tie you need. I’ve become a zealot on the subject of this tie, and have been proselytizing its virtues to those curious enough to care, those nutty enough to ask.
The tie has even gone pop culture. In deep conversation with my new buddy Kanye West, we were discussing the aforementioned tie, and he’s made it not only his uniform, but the standard for his friends. A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to accompany Kanye and company backstage at Madison Square Garden for the Rihanna show, and then at a private show that Kanye had organized with his hometown partner John Legend. The show was nothing short of amazing, and even at 3:30 am, Kanye’s Rosewood crew were looking damn great in fitted suits and The Tie –the only one they’re wearing now, and the same goes for me.