To us Brits, the words J. Crew might not mean very much. Sure, we know (well, we think) it’s a clothing brand, that it’s American and that – again, we think – they mentioned it in an episode of Friends once.But beyond that, we’re pretty much stuck.
Which means that the fact they wrote ‘We widened our ties by ¼” to keep up with today’s changing proportions.’ on page 86 of their October catalogue shouldn’t mean much to us at all.Except, it turns out that J. Crew is held up as some sort of men’s fashion weather vane – so pretty soon the internet was awash with headlines proclaiming the death of the skinny tie.Business Insider
said: ‘The Skinny Tie is Dying’.Bloomberg
said: ‘Sorry Hipsters, the Skinny Tie is Over’And CBS
said: ‘The skinny on men’s ties? They’re getting wider again.’Well, we’re going to stick our neck out and say they’re wrong.
Don’t believe us?Think of Don Draper. Think of James Bond. Think of The Beatles.They all dressed pretty
well, don’t you think?
So well, in fact, that they’ve all had a huge
effect on men’s style. (You could even go so far as to describe all three as timeless.)And they all wore skinny ties. And not because Topman told them too, but because they all knew the power of a well-placed skinny tie.You see, the skinny tie (usually measuring between 1.5 and 2.5 inches) became popular in the 1960s at the height of Beatlemania. This snowballed into both phases of mod fashion (the original mods vs rockers era, and later again with The Jam et al…) and across onto the silver screen with James Bond.
Then, it had a little snooze. You’d see it here and there, but by and large, we were in the wide-tie era of the late 80s and 90s, as the John Lennons and Ace Faces of this world were replaced by Patrick Batemans and Gordon Gekkos.
But in the early 2000s, something strange happened. Skinny, drawn-out hipsters – universally derided by the mainstream press – had a huge effect on men’s fashion. Pete Doherty – usually the punchline to a joke, rather than a fashion icon – made the skinny tie cool again.
And once more, the skinny tie could be found around the neck of everybody from work experience boys to David Cameron.And now, it seems, the trend seems to be waning a little. But let us ask you this?Would you rather dress like Gordon Gekko or Don Draper?Patrick Bateman or James Bond?
That’s what we thought.So before you dig out your black suit and go into a period of mourning, bear with us. The skinny tie may not be the must-have accessory it once was, but there’s life in the old boy yet.(Side note: 1/2inch skinny ties are definitely dead, thank God. We’re not going to argue with that.)
That said, there are rules to wearing a skinny tie now. It’s no longer the ‘who can wear the skinniest tie?’ race that it was a decade ago.
So, to help you rock the skinny tie without looking like you’re going on a date with Kate Moss, we’ve put together 5 handy tips to keep you looking good, even if you are stepping into sartorial maverick territory:
#1: Match your skinny tie with your suit lapels and shirt collar.
Skinny ties can look suave and super smooth in the right situation (even if J. Crew and Business Insider disagree). And the right situation definitely isn’t
in a wide-collared shirt and a jacket with wide lapels. That’s a quick way to make it look like you got dressed in the dark.Instead, make sure you match the collar and lapels to the width of your tie – skinny tie, skinny lapels, skinny shirt collar. Easy.
#2: Match the narrow tie with a smaller, slightly asymmetric tie knot.
The skinny tie and a Merovingian knot
do not good bedfellows make. Thinner ties call for smaller, less in-your-face knots – the four-in-the-hand knot (the one you’ve been doing since school) is perfect.
#3: Pair your skinny neckpiece with a 1 or 2 button suit.
Three-button suits do not work well with thinner neckties – like the wide lapels or collars, they look out of proportion and ill-considered. Instead, stick with 1 or 2 button jackets to keep everything streamlined and simple.
#4: Keep it simple.Skinny ties
aren’t really the place for in-your-face patterns. They’re good for a flash of colour, a hint of pattern or just an understated breaking up of the white shirt. They’re not good for statement patterns or – god forbid – a gimmicky, press-this-button-to-play-Santa-Claus-is-Coming-to-Town design.
#5: Add a tie clip.
Skinny ties benefit from just the hint of an accessory. Adding a tie clip
to a skinny tie doesn’t just add another element of eye-catching style to your suit, but it elevates the whole thing from Pete Doherty to Tom Hiddlestone. (Or, in other words, heroin chic to potential Bond.)
So there you have it. Five ways to continue wearing your skinny ties without risking the wrath of the sartorial gods.
What do you think? Is the skinny tie dead? Or have rumours of its death been greatly exaggerated?