24
Jan

Review: Commonwealth Proper wool flannel necktie

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Commonwealth Proper was kind enough to send me one of their wool flannel neckties for review about a month ago and after wearing it a few times, I’ve shifted my views on wool neckwear. 

Before getting into that, I want to go over the details of the necktie itself. The tie’s fabric is a rather substantially thick wool flannel from Italy. It feels about as heavy as any wool flannel trouser I’ve worn, but perhaps slightly scratchier to give it some slight texture. 

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The tie’s interlining is what I believe to be wool and is of moderate thickness, giving the flannel even more weight in the blades. This is not a light and airy necktie, it’s definitely denser. The tipping is a vintage silk with an ivory ground and burgundy print that features a floral scenery. 

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One of the details I always look for on a necktie are the bar-tack stitches. As you can see below, the bar tack on both blades are done quite well. From experience, bar tacks like these won’t come undone — unlike some lesser-constructed ties I’ve had in the past that were surprisingly priced similarly. 

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In terms of how the tie knots, this is where I go back to my initial thought of changing my mind on how wool ties knot. Frankly, I’ve been slowly more indifferent or against wool neckwear in the past. Either the tie is too thick to be knotted well — even with a four-in-hand — or the tie is too flimsy and the fabric too much like a sponge that it turns into a mushed ball at the knot that lacks substantialness. Other times I found the wool fabric too rigid and lifeless to work. 

But, the flannel of this particular tie has worked quite well for me in the few times I’ve found to wear it. It knots well and forms a dimple that looks substantial. The knot doesn’t feel obtusely large nor too compacted. The tie has enough mobility in it not look stiff as a board when worn. It’s my opinion that the tie is extremely well-balanced. 

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I should note that the tie’s width is smaller than my preferred ideal — measuring in at 3”, whereas my typical preference is for 3.5” — but I found it’s worked well with parts of my wardrobe for the cooler months. I feel the tie works best for casual evenings, against a white shirt and darker jackets in grey, charcoal and navy, preferably with some texture — like a tweed or heavy flannel. I’ve paired it with and OCBD and a chunky-knit cardigan as well as my grey donegal tweed suit (as seen below). 

Commonwealth Proper's neckties are made in the U.S.A. and they seem to be producing small numbers of each type of design that arrives in stock. You can find the tie in dark grey flannel (the one they sent me), mid-grey and also black. Check them out as they continue to release new items to their online store. 

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22
Jan

The tie safety pin — I recalled Derek writing at Put This On about pinning a tie using a safety pin and one random night several weeks ago while trolling eBay I thought to look for one. 

Most of the ones I found were very typical looking, but recalling Derek’s advice to search for a kilt safety pin, I found this interesting pin that featured a textured and twisted pin for about $12. The seller still has quite a few left for those interested.

As someone who’s not used to pinning his tie or wearing a tie clip, it’s kind of odd. You have to be sure to pin the tie to adjust for allowing your neck to look upward as it lifts the tie. When you’re looking down to pin the tie, gravity takes the tie lower than it’s “natural” point, causing it to pull once you move your neck back up after pinning. 

The pin itself is rather thick, so I actually pin the tie through the buttonhole of the shirt and then through the holes in the silk knit. Honestly, this process is a bit frustrating and time consuming. For this reason, I think I actually prefer a tie clip instead as it’s much quicker to operate — the downside is that it’s not as secure as the safety pin for staying in place. 

I can’t say I’m sold on pinning a tie, but it is nice for keeping your tie out of the way if you find yourself to be a person who removes their jacket with any sort of frequency (provided you’re wearing it correctly). If I had a functional need for it, I could see actually using it. But since I don’t, I think mine will likely sit unused and out of sight, too, for the foreseeable future.

12
Dec
29
Nov

It’s on sale: Sette Neckwear — If you’ve got a politico in the family (or on your holiday gift list) and know they’d appreciate a fine piece of neckwear, then you’ll want to consider picking up one of the Sette Neckwear ties on sale — with designs for donkeys and elephants in multiple colorways. The ties are still pricey ($200, marked down from $265), but they’re a real 7-fold necktie, handmade in Italy from some really amazing silks. You can read my Sette Neckwear review here.

09
Nov
06
Nov

setteneck:

Learn how to tie a tie, in true Italian fashion from our good friend Otto, in the silk mill in Como, Italy.

Somehow, Italians manage to even make explaining how to tie a necktie way cooler and effortless. 

18
Oct
generalknot:

It’s International Necktie Day! Celebrate w/ 10% Off our Neckties today. code# IND12 http://mrte.ch/gkco

I had no idea International Necktie Day was a thing, but there you go.

generalknot:

It’s International Necktie Day! Celebrate w/ 10% Off our Neckties today. code# IND12 http://mrte.ch/gkco

I had no idea International Necktie Day was a thing, but there you go.

(via generalknot)

09
Oct

Review: Louis Walton neckwear

One of the most under-appreciated details on a necktie is the bar tack. I’ve had neckties that I’ve paid a hefty sum for that lacked a decent bar tack and came undone after a few wears, which is a moment of disappointment when you think back to how much the tie cost. It’s a tiny detail, unnoticed by so many — wearers and manufacturers alike — but I happen to enjoy the tactile feel of a well-sewn one.

Louis Walton's bar tacks are impressive, as you can see above. I consider it on par with those found on Vanda Fine Clothing's and Panta Clothing's neckties. It's better than the bar tacks found on Drake's London and Polo Ralph Lauren, in my opinion. It's the first thing I noticed when I received a review necktie, handmade by owner Gregory Walton (he named the company after his father) in San Francisco. 

"I started making ties because I realized the things I liked were very expensive and I felt that with practice I could make something just as nice as the things in the shops I liked," Gregory said. "In my family it has been a practice to learn to make the things or do the services we like."

Gregory’s been sewing neckties since 2008 and initially gave them away as gifts until a friend asked him to design a line of ties and pocket squares for his shop. 

The tie Gregory sent me is this navy Japanese cotton with white flowers in a six-fold design. The tie is lightly lined and untipped, two details I particularly enjoy. It also features a hand-sewn slip-stitch to allow the tie to recover after being worn.  

I asked Gregory about some of the technical challenges of learning how to sew ties by hand, and unsurprisingly he said it’s not easy. One of his mentors taught him how to make patterns for shirts and trousers, which helped him develop his own patterns for neckties. 

"There is still a measure of trial and error involved because I make each tie with the client in mind," Gregory said. "Therefore, the shape and length of each tie is different depending on the size and preferences of the client. I am constantly learning and trying different things."

Another challenge is sourcing fabric and thread, because they’re not available at just any fabric store, often needing to be sourced from mills directly. Finding good fabric is extremely important to him because it affects how the tie drapes and knots. 

While the design and pattern of the fabric is originally what caught my eye (I’m always a sucker for navy ties), the light cotton actually goes nicely with a variety of summer and warm-weather jackets and the “neat” flower pattern gives just enough visual variety to break up an ensemble of solids. I liked it in particular against a light blue linen shirt and a white linen-cotton jacket.

If you’ve been following the Louis Walton tumblr, you’ll notice that Gregory’s also been expanding his skillset into leather goods, including belts and keyholders. If you took a look, you’ll see they look damn impressive. 

"I am very excited to be branching into leather work and find it o be very rewarding," Gregory said. "I am starting with small pieces like keyholders and wallets, and I hope to offer larger items like briefcases and bags for men next year. I do everything by hand and it leads to pieces that are very strong and structured, while still being soft and pliable." 

Gregory also mentioned he’s working on outerwear pieces with a local tailor to be offered as made-to-measure items. 

It should also be noted that Gregory’s training under Beatrice Amblard of April In Paris fame. For those who don’t know, Amblard is a former Hermes artisan that now has her own label designing custom leather accessories in San Francisco. 

Check out Louis Walton and follow Gregory on Tumblr and Twitter. I have a feeling it’s going to be exciting to watch.

08
Oct

It’s on sale: E. & G. Cappelli and Rubinacci ties at Exquisite Trimmings — If you’re looking to get some remarkable neckwear on sale, then you should check out the necktie clearance going on at Exquisite Trimmings. For around $90 or so, you can get some of the finest handmade neckties from Italy. 

One thing I’d like to point out is that the Rubinacci knit ties with the colored spots have their spots sewn on by hand. Most spotted knit ties are stitched on by machine, because handsewing takes a ridiculous amount of time to do. If you’re into that kind of detail, then give those a look. 

05
Oct
It’s on eBay: Polo Bear tartan necktie — For all the ‘Lo Heads out there, I’m looking out for you. It can be yours for $79.99, shipped free.

It’s on eBay: Polo Bear tartan necktie — For all the ‘Lo Heads out there, I’m looking out for you. It can be yours for $79.99, shipped free.

03
Oct

Political #menswear

Tonight marks the first presidential debate for the 2012 general election and it’s a time when partisans should be encouraged to show their affiliation. Now, there’s a lot of crass and tasteless ways to do this through clothing (just take a look at the junk on Zazzle, CafePress or even eBay), but for those looking for the love of politics and menswear, I’ve put together this guide. 

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Neckties:

Vineyard Vines: $75, available in red, yellow, green and salmon pink for Republicans. For Democrats, blue and green.

Southern Proper: $75, available in a huge range of colors and designs. Wovens in red, crimson and purple; repp stripe in blue (above); printed in red, crimson and blue; another printed GOP elephant on red silk; and political elephants and donkeys surrounded by stars.

Sette Neckwear: $265, available in three designs each for Democrats and Republicans. Elephant print in red, blue and purple. Donkey print in blue, scarlet and yellow. (These 7-fold ties are my personal favorite.)

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Belts:

Tucker Blair: $95, needlepoint belt. 

Vineyard Vines: $49.50, canvas cotton belt available for Republicans and Democrats.

Smathers & Branson: $165, needlepoint belts for both Republicans and Democrats. 

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Prince Albert Slippers:

Stubbs & Wootton: $450, for Republicans, Democrats and fence-sitters.

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Braces:

Fine & Dandy Shop: $65, for Republicans, Democrats and the annoyingly undecided.

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Shorts and Trousers:

Orvis: $15.20 (on sale), in Republican red and Democrat blue. 

Bonobos: $125, critter chinos in navy for Republicans and charcoal for Democrats.

26
Sep
pantaclothing:

25% SALE, use code FALL25 at checkout. Quantities are limited!

Ed Morel (owner of Panta Clothing) had a few sale threads on StyleForum’s Buy & Sell the past few weeks and I managed to snag one of his cashmere ties last week. His necktie sale has now extended to his webstore. Lots of great six-fold ties for around $89, which is a pretty good deal — especially considering there’s a good amount of staples and neckwear appropriate for conservative business dress. 

pantaclothing:

25% SALE, use code FALL25 at checkout. Quantities are limited!

Ed Morel (owner of Panta Clothing) had a few sale threads on StyleForum’s Buy & Sell the past few weeks and I managed to snag one of his cashmere ties last week. His necktie sale has now extended to his webstore. Lots of great six-fold ties for around $89, which is a pretty good deal — especially considering there’s a good amount of staples and neckwear appropriate for conservative business dress. 

24
Sep
14
Sep

New knit ties at The Knottery — Among many other new items from The Knottery.

11
Sep

Review: Sette Neckwear — Several months ago during the StyleForum 10th Anniversary Meetup, I discovered Sette Neckwear at the vendor showcase and bought what is probably the most expensive necktie I’ve purchased in my life. 

I didn’t plan on doing this and I’ll admit to it being a bit of an impulse buy, but it’s genuinely one of the most exciting pieces of clothing I had the opportunity to get. 

As I walked by their table, I took the time to handle their true 7-fold ties. While some so-called 7-fold ties are actually 6-folds, Sette actually uses a single piece of silk that it folds seven times to make its neckwear. In fact, the company’s name means the number seven in Italian. 

The construction is completely done by hand — hand folded and hand sewn. It’s unlined and feels delicately lightweight. The stitch down the back is done in a high-constrast thread with signature bar tacks in the shape of the number 7. 

Adding to the exclusivity, Sette ties are made in very limited numbers. Only 21 in the “classic” line and only seven in the “pure” line. Each tie is individually numbered on a printed area of the silk. And each tie comes boxed in a hard case along with an ID card that can be registered on their website so you can see who else shares the same tie as you in the collection. 

All of this is pretty cool, but not typically something that convinces me to put down three figures for a necktie. What sold me on making a purchase was something that I actually had in common with the company’s founder: we both had a prior career in politics. Founder Peter Watkins spent half a decade in the White House and it was really cool to meet someone who shared a passion for both politics and neckwear. 

As I looked over the designs on the table, none at the time caught my eye. Naturally, several Sette designs are targeted toward politicos, including elephants for Republicans and donkeys for Democrats (actually, only the blue donkey tie was on display at the time). I lamented out loud that I’d seen their red Republican tie on their site, but wished it came in another color other than red, as I only wear blue or navy ties now. 

Then, I was treated to something really special. 

"We didn’t put the Republican ties out as we’re here in California." True, it’s probably a bit rare to expect to find a Chicagoan who’s a Republican wandering around in a San Francisco hotel. "We were saving these for the convention. They’re not even on the site yet."

From under the table came a blue elephant print tie still in a plastic sleeve. My eyes lit up. 

"Oh, and it’s the first one! You’d be the first one to have this style." 

At that point, it was game over. The tie went from an expensive indulgence that’d be nice to have to a must-have item that would hold a unique place in my wardrobe. So, I bought it. 

The tie is definitely different from any other I own. In fact, I have to knot it differently than every other tie I own. The combination of the tie’s slightly longer length plus its unlined nature makes it a bit too long for the four-in-hand and even the half-Windsor. 

Instead, I spent a good hour trying to come up with a unique knot that was asymmetric, had a decent volume and held a correct length on my torso with back and front blades being even and at the waist. I may make a video in the future, who knows. 

Those who are taller or have wider necks may find they can go to their standard knots. Or if you’re a full-Windsor guy, then this tie will work well. I just can’t stand the look of a full-Windsor knot, so I kind of went a bit overboard on developing my own. 

Obviously, I’m an unabashed fan of the tie. I wear it with a striped shirt, navy blazer, trousers and wingtips. I plan on wearing it during the fall election season and at moments when I want to show off my subtle political affiliation. 

If you’re looking for a unique tie to give as a gift or for yourself, then definitely check out Sette Neckwear

Furthermore, if you visit Sette’s Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter page, you can find out information about a contest they’re having where they’re giving away a free necktie (all you have to do is like, share, reblog or retweet). Definitely check it out. 

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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