Why You Should Consider Vintage Ties from the 1930s-1940s

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CRAZY LONG POST ALERT (lots of pictures!)

Vintage and vintage inspired looks are what comprise a majority of this blog.  Now Spencer and I agree that you don’t have to stick with one area to dress well.  You can always wear tailored thrifted trousers or a modern suit to create a look that takes cues from both contemporary and Golden Era looks.  However, if you really want to have a look that  truly throws it back to the 1920s-1940s, there’s one thing you can’t skimp out on: the tie.  The fact that these vintage ties have such a unique print, fabric, and construction makes it as if you’re wearing a piece of sartorial art around your neck.

“Vintage ties? Are you talking about those 90’s business ties?  Those thick, polyester ones from the 1970’s?”

Fuck no, I’m talking about the classically designed ones from the 1920s-1940s (and maybe the 50-60s too) that define what it means to have Golden Era Style.  You’ve probably seen them referenced on this blog as inspiration: the sharp ivy like repp stripe ties, the foulards, the dots, and the slightly bold (yet tasteful) designs.  Spencer and I wear them all the time and we believe that it’s one of the best ways to mark your outfit as vintage or vintage inspired, considering that no one makes ties like this anymore.

Now there’s nothing wrong with modern ties.  Makers like Drake’s and Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie make some of the best ties that are both classic and bold enough to work with your contemporary or vintage inspired outfits.  Hell, The Tie Bar  and J. Crew can make pretty good ties (stay away from other mall stores) for those of you guys that are just starting out.  But we don’t really push for “regular ties” too much on this blog.   And we’re definitely not in a place to buy Drake’s or Kenji Kaga’s pieces.  For now (and quite possibly forever) Spencer and I will buy ties from the 1920s-1960’s!

As we’ve talked about in the guide to dressing as the 1930s/1940s , I mentioned that one of the best ways to achieve a vintage look is to wear a vintage tie.  There’s something special about vintage ties that make them different than most of the ties out there! Just look at the picture below.

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Yes, the suit is vintage but if you didn’t know any better, you might have noted that it’s a simply navy blue suit.  It’s fine for most, but what if you want to give it that vintage edge? That’s where the tie comes in.  To make it special, I wore a brocade silk purple tie that features a bird motif woven into the silk.  Add in a spearpoint collar and collar bar, and you’ve got a great 1930’s look!  Much different than wearing something modern, especially since printed (not woven) florals are the way that most guys choose to stand out with their tie.  I think that the brocade provides a much more elegant approach to “statement ties”.

Hell, I could wear that tie (with the appropriate shirt and collar bar) with a modern suit and it could still look pretty vintage!  Just look at this picture of Arnold Wong of Attire House rocking a similar ensemble; he wears a 1950’s silk tie with his modern Ciccio bespoke suit.   That’s the power of vintage ties.  The best part is that they’re way cheaper than most ties out there and still retain the quality construction and fabric that is shared by the best makers out there.

This article focuses on some of the details on Golden Era ties with plenty of pictures to give examples!  Written below are the main reasons why we think that you guys should at least consider getting a few vintage sties to supplement your wardrobe!  Whether you have a strictly vintage attire or you like to mix and match eras, you’ll enjoy them.

Big thanks to Monsivias & Co. and the Wellema Hat Co. for letting us photograph pieces from their personal collection!

Don’t Worry, the 1930s/40s had Classic Designs

Foulards, dots, and stripes of all types are never going to go out of style.  If you look at these 1920s-1940s examples, you’ll see that they don’t really have much difference to the ties you see today.  If your style is fairly standard, classic, or ivy leaning, the 1920s-1960s have you covered!  You could go modern, but I still go for vintage since they are very similar (or do a unique spin/color combo) that can echo what it means to have a classic menswear wardrobe.

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1920’s tie

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1930’s tie; perfect for ivy outfits.

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Classic tie, not too bold.

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Classic 1930’s block stripe.

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1940’s bold repp stripe.

Elegant block stripe.

1930’s foulard.

They Also Have Bold Colors,Patterns, and Weaves

While I am a huge fan of stripes and foulards, I do like to stand out a bit.  The use of bolder colors and interesting prints are a great way to make your outfit stand out and mark that you’re not a regular sartorial dude.  Even these particular stripes, checks, and foulards are something that you don’t really see everyday.  Sure, they make look pretty normal at first glance but there’s something slightly different that marks them apart from normal ties.  It’s as if the tie makers decided to do their unique spin on the typical ties you normally see.  I dare you to find a modern tie from the mall that looks like these pieces.

Essentially, the use of bolder foulards, stripes, and other crazy print ties are the best way to make your outfit vintage or vintage inspired simply because no one does them like this anymore.  We’ll get into craftsmanship and materials in a second.  For now, just enjoy these beautiful ties.  They’re like pieces of art!

Note:  If you’re wondering how to pull these off, note that three piece suits or double breasted suits tend to cover a majority of the tie; it’s a great way to tone down the boldness of the fabric.

No one does checks like this anymore.

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1920s/30s tie.

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A lovely 1930’s geometric tie.

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Crazy 1930’s tie with artisinal pattern inside the damn block stripe.

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Another fun 1930’s geometric print.

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Beautiful tie.

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Nice 30’s brocade tie.

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1940’s checked summer tie.

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1920’s print tie.

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1910s/20s multiple weave tie.

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1920’s brocade silk tie.

The Fabric Itself

Not only were the ties made of 100% silk, but some of these bold ties were made of brocade or jacquard silk which often had some extra pattern on the fabric itself under the main pattern.  I can tell you that I’ve never seen a modern tie come close to this.  The craziness and rarity of the fabric is what makes each tie unique. If you get your hands on a 1930’s tie, chances are you might be the only one in the world with that that particular tie. IMG_1077
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Super Thin, Light Interlining, and Untipped Edges

This is something I have to emphasize to so many people: vintage ties are thin as fuck.  Most people assume that vintage ties means the thick ones of the 70s-90s when that simply isn’t the case.  There is no thick interlining or thick silks being used here.  What you get is a thin (but sturdy) silk that uses a very thin canvas interlining through only the middle section of the tie.  The edges of both blades are untipped and are usually self edged (the excess fabric is rolled over and sewn down); some later ties did have lining.  The resultant tie is an amazing piece of hand craftsmanship that is incredibly thin, ties a great four-in-hand, and  only has equivalents in the modern artisanal tie making world.

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An example with lining- still much thinner than ties sold today!

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Paper thin.

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The Length and Width

Yes, vintage ties are a lot shorter than modern ties (or any ties past the 1960s).  This may dissuade most of you guys out there who prefer to do the sprezza-tie , but I really think that vintage ties are great.  You might not be able to do the tuck effectively or have overlapping layers, but the length will work for high rise trousers.  In fact, that’s why they were so short; they were designed to barely touch the top of the waistband.  I mean, just look at the 1920‘s and 1940‘s; length is arbitrary and only depends on the look you’re going for.  If you want something more modern, then a vintage tie may not be for you. However, if you go vintage or vintage inspired, getting a 1920s-1960s tie is best.

The width isn’t even that crazy!  Most people think that vintage ties are going to be super wide, but that’s only true of the late 1940s, early 1950s, and the late 1960s-1990s.  The ties featured here are only 3-3.5″ in width, which makes them very comparable to classic contemporary ties from Drake’s.  Obviously they will be a little wider than ones from J. Crew or GAP, but we really suggest having 3″ ties for a classic look.

Also note that the width and shape of some of these ties (especially the early 1920s stuff from Damian) varied.  That’s because there wasn’t a real standardized shape until the late 1920s; until then, manufacturers and designers had free reign over ties since they were seen as pieces of art.  You might see some variation in the early 1930s, but for the most part, vintage ties won’t be too different than what you see today.   You could also embrace it and use the shape to stand out like Spencer did! 

The Price

Here’s the kicker:  these ties are mother fucking cheap.  You might think that because of all the different factors (craftsmanship, rarity, fabric, etc), these ties fetch a high price.  Well, they don’t.  They really don’t.

Depending on the quality, age/era, and fabric, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10-80 for a vintage tie.  Most vintage stores will get you $20-40 while eBay can go for much less (or more)! Just look at the prices online right now.  It also helps if you go to vintage events or flea markets in order to haggle or do deals on ties.

Just be sure to go to a place that is curated for vintage menswear .  Spencer and I like to go to Paper Moon Vintage, Joyride: Vintage for Men, Monsivais & Co (some of which are photographed in this very article), and Reese’s Vintage Pieces for their curated and constantly expanding ties, but there are also plenty of online sellers like Briar Vintage that have equally awesome selection; the best part is that they all have extremely affordable prices. I’ve seen crazy prices on vintage ties from stores that have a loose definition of vintage or eBay sellers that don’t know what they’re talking about.  In any case, remember that anything over $60 is way too much for a tie, unless it’s got some crazy detailing or other historical significance. If you’re getting a regular foulard/stripe or an interesting brocade, make sure that it’s fairly cheap!

It might take a bit more education and a keen eye to differentiate ties of different eras but at least you know that these ties are within your easily accessible reach.  We recommend ties from the 1920s to the early 1940s based on pattern/print alone, but the 1950s-1960s can have good ones as well!  Note that construction, fabric, and pattern/print vary through the decades.  If you find something cool somewhere, take a picture and email it to us or DM me on instagram  if you want our opinion!

You Can Make Them Work Easily

Whether you want to have a conservative look or you want to go for something slightly bold, vintage ties are a great piece to add on.  Just look at these looks from our archive. While our ties aren’t as bold as the ones that we photographed above, the ones we actually own and wear are just as precious to Spencer and me.  These stripes, checks, and prints work for our more “timeless” style yet add slight vintage edge to set us apart from the other menswear guys!  Basically,  you’ll also see that some of these ties share a lot of similarities to other ties out there; the only difference is that these are vintage, have a different take on classic patterns, are thinner, and were much, much cheaper.

Remember that you don’t need to have all vintage pieces to “make it work”.  We wear a variety from true vintage (1920s-1940s), late vintage (1960s-1970s), to contemporary suits from Camoshita and MTM from Indochino and Vulture Suits all the time with our vintage ties.  Vintage ties work with it all.  If you know what you’re doing (i.e pattern mixing) and you have a good wardrobe that has wide lapels and high rise trousers, you’ll pull it off!

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1930’s striped tie with decorative weave.

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1940’s cotton checked tie.

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1960’s foulard tie.

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1940’s silk geometric motif tie.

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1940’s checked cotton tie.

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1940’s striped tie.

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1930’s Palm Beach tie.

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1930’s Brocade silk dotted tie.

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1930’s brocade tie.

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1940’s brocade square motif tie with a modern suit.

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1930’s classic repp tie and modern suit.

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1930’s repp tie.

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1940’s square print tie.

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1930’s polka dot tie.

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1940’s checked tie.

 

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1940’s bold checked tie with Suit Supply jacket.

 

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1940’s stripe tie.

 

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Bold 1940’s print tie with 60s sack suit.

 

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1950’s silver geometric weave tie. Perfect for formal occassions.

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1930’s polkadot tie.

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1940’s abstract square motif tie.

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1930’s black stripe tie.

 

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1940’s striped woven summer tie with 1940’s suit.

 

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1930’s abstract design brocade silk tie.

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1930’s checked  seersucker tie.

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1930’s green repp stripe tie.

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1940’s foulard tie.

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1940’s striped tie.

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1940’s pink checked tie.

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1940’s bold print tie.

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1930’s brown summer weight tie.

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1930’s blue stripe tie.

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1930’s frayed edge wool tie.

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1930’s cotton polkdadot tie.

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Cody Wellema in a 1930’s foulard.

  Modern Ties

Again, there’s nothing wrong with dressing and buying from contemporary brands.  They all have their place and work for regular dudes who want to step up their game a bit or for guys who just something cool to wear for the office.  But this blog isn’t for those guys, now is it? You’re reading this blog because you want to have some throw back vibes with your sartorial outfits!  Or you want to learn more about vintage clothing and find out how to incorporate them into your outfit.  That’s why we suggest you to at least consider vintage ties.

Like vintage ties, most modern ties are made from silk.   Gone are the days of the 70s-80s where ties were made of some form of polyester or other synthetic.  Brands have recognized that consumers want something that has quality and has a slightly classic look.  However, I find most modern ties (especially mall brands) to be lacking for my taste. They just don’t have a sense of boldness or personality like vintage ties do, at least to me.  However, there are some guys today who get this right!

Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie by Kenji Kaga takes some direct influence from vintage ties and I think he makes some of the best ones I’ve ever seen. Whether they’re silk, wool, or some other third fabric, they are produced with care and attention to detail.  His ties the signatre 7-fold construction where there is simply no liner (structure) in the tie at all; the tie fabric is folded onto itself 7 times to give it shape and thickness needed.  As you can see they look like 1930’s ties! Unfortunately they retail for hundreds of dollars, which is justified considering their unique design and handmade construction, but just out of reach for us regular joes.

This one is one of my favorites since it looks almost exactly like some of my 1930’s ties.

Lovely silk pieces.

Fantastic 30s inspired print tie.

Untipped edges!  That construction is amazing.

Next we have Drake’s, who actually got their start making ties before becoming a full haberdashery.  They make some of the best ties around, all handmade from their factory in London. They’re not exactly as 30s-40s styled as Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie, but they still have that classic menswear feel that could make a vintage look if you styled everything else correctly (i.e spearpoint collar).  Most of their models are also untipped with handrolled edges, which is a plus if manufacturing methods and craftsmanship is important for you.  Unfortunately for me, they’re still a little too expensive at around $120-200 for a tie.  They’re still really well made and I love their products!

Untipped with handrolled edges!

BnTailor also makes a good 30’s style tie!

A 1930’s style tie made by B&Tailor.

Awesome 7-fold ties from B&Tailor

Obviously Drake’s ties are a slightly more conservative when you compare them not only the the vintage ties but to the Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie ones.  This isn’t a bad thing, since they definitely have a classic feel to them; I’d recommend Drake’s for Armoury or ivy inspired outfits.  1930s-60s foulards will be most similar to them but since vintage ones are slightly more bold in their fabric and pattern,  you’d be better off either thrifting conservative foulards or buying pre-owned Drake’s ties on eBay!

Conclusion

Most people forget that ties can be used to make your outfit stand out.  And I’m not talking florals or crazy paisleys, I’m talking vintage ties.  I’m not sure why guys don’t consider them, but there are plenty of great reasons:

  •  They can be classic, with vintage repps or dots; they’re almost no different than modern ones.
  • They can also be bold; the way the 1920s-1940s approached certain stripes, checks, weaves, and patterns are way different than today!
  • The fabric (brocade/jacquard silk, Palm Beach) is rare and not just simple plain silk like today.
  • They naturally work with high rise trousers.
  • They craftsmanship is unparalleled, as the ties have thin interlining, tie a tight knot, and have untipped/unlined edges
  • They’re motherfucking cheap with prices ranging from $20-60, which is affordable to everyone.

It is for all of these reasons that Spencer and I buy and wear  vintage ties.  We usually get comments whenever we wear them! The ones we have are classic enough  not to look too dated but they’re interesting enough to set them apart from almost all the ties out there.  There’s nothing wrong with buying from J. Crew or The Tie Bar, but vintage is better made, better looking (to us), and way cheaper.  The only brands that come close to same level of craftsmanship and interesting print are Drake’s and Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie.

Some people are under the impression that vintage ties are always wide, but that is simply not the case. While four or five inch ties were in vogue during the 1950s, in the 1920s and ’30s, ties were a moderate width, usually around 3-3.5 inches. That’s roughly the width of ties sold today!

As you can see, having a vintage tie is one of the best ways to have a vintage look without having to go all in.  We’ll probably do a guide on how to date vintage ties and separate them by era in the future, but this will have to do for now! It’s my wish that this article helps open your mind to vintage clothing and helps you see it not only as a way to save money, but as a source of affordable high quality clothing that is filled with personality.  Plus you’ll be owning a garment that almost no one else has.  Pretty cool right?

If you find a cool tie and you’re unsure of its age or how to wear it, feel free to send us an email (inquiry.streetxsprezza@gmail.com) or DM me on instagram! I’d be happy to help you out.

Again, big thanks to Monsivais Co. and Wellema Hat Co. for letting us photograph their ties! Be sure to check them out and see what great 1930s-1940’s ties they have to spice up your wardrobe.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.  

@ethanmwong 

Street x Sprezza

Photography by Ethan W. 

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20 comments

  1. James · July 11

    Loved this post as the topic is very dear to my heart. I appreciate the depth of the info and many, many photos of gorgeous 1920s-1960s ties!

    Like

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  3. Michael · July 13

    Great post. Been following your blog for a few months now with interest. As a general observation, I think your writing would come of a lot more polished without the profanity and excessive use of exclamation points.

    Like

    • Aurelie · July 13

      I absolutely agree. The profanity is jarring and detracts from the classy and informative presentation. It spoils the professional and otherwise stellar work, Ethan!

      Like

      • Ethan W. · July 13

        Thank you for your concern Michael and Aurelie! I’ll try to keep it toned down in the future, but please understand that I write like I talk in real life! You’ll definitely hear what I’m talking about once the podcast is launched.

        I’ve basically approached this blog as an easy going “regular guy” blog, set apart from the countless menswear/classy lifestyle blogs! It’s basically an extension of my self, my friends, and my general environment. I’m not a huge fan of “gentleman culture” (neither are my friends) and it certainly shows in this blog and my instagram.

        A lot of my peers, friends, and acquaintances are all young and we approach classic menswear in this way. We’ll look at vintage clothes or some awesome tailoring from Edward Sexton and say “fu** yeah, those are some sick lapels”.

        Utlimately, I wanted to create an environment where like minded guys (especially youth) were able to come and learn something from a blog that was made by them, for them. I always felt things were a little fake/superficial when I met certain menswear bloggers, especially when I was getting into the blogging scene. Where there was an emphasis on “appearing professional” or “gentlemanly” when I just wanted to be real and talk about great clothing.

        I think that it makes my blog unique since I don’t try and bullshit people, both in writing style and in the content itself. Showing people quality photographs and detailed information in a very easy (and vulgar) manner is something that not many people do on the internet, especially if its not anonymous.

        I hope you gentleman understand where I’m coming from. With that said, if I see something too excessive, I’ll tone it down! Your advice and opinions will not be taken for granted. 🙂

        Like

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  5. Aurelie · July 14

    Thanks for your considered response, Ethan! It’s refreshing to be able to talk like this and not be met with a defensive and aggressive tone.

    It’s funny you should say that you’re aiming for the younger demographic and that you are trying to present in a way that reaches them. Bear in mind, whilst those youthful and sartorial folks will read this, not all will be happy with swearing, yet all will be happy with you *not* swearing: the vulgarity only reaches your lowest common denominator. I do understand what you’re saying: my observation wasn’t judgement on your own language choices per se, more simply an observation that the profanity does make your writing seem more immature. Also, maybe it’s a cultural thing in itself (I’m a Brit), but I’m sad that there’s such a thing as ‘Gentleman Culture’. I would say you’re either a gentleman or you’re not. It’s not an affectation. Most people speak differently from how they write, and it’s your decision who you want to be reading your blog. It would certainly mean I didn’t visit as much as I do now if all your articles contained as much swearing as this, and that would be a great shame as I really enjoy your work. I would absolutely say that I always employ ‘real talk’ – it just doesn’t really involve swearing.

    In any case, good luck and keep showing the youth how style is done. 🙂

    Like

  6. Michael · July 14

    I’m probably at least 10 years older than you and have no idea what ‘gentlemen’s culture’ is. But I strongly suspect I would want nothing to do with it if I did.

    In any case, I assure you your personality comes through in your writing quite clearly, and profanity has nothing to do with that. It’s a pity you think otherwise. In my view, this is simply a matter of presenting yourself and your ideas in the best possible light.

    In a similar vein, the reason I suggested easing up on your use of exclamation marks is because they are a little effeminate and they undermine your credibility. More measured language would signal to your readers that you are an authoritative voice on the subject (which you are) and should be taken seriously. The impression you give is more of a kid in a candy store.

    Keep up the good work otherwise.

    Like

    • Ethan W. · July 14

      Michael, I really do appreciate your advice. I can definitely see what you’re saying.

      With that said, I think the picture of me in a candy store is VERY accurate. You should see Spencer and I when we go to costuming warehouses or when we look at Benny Reese’s personal collection! We are barely in our 20s as we definitely do get giddy over belt backs and vintage ties as we do with the latest video game or Star Wars film.

      Blending this identity of energetic youthfulness and menswear authority is something that I want to achieve, and I hope to do so in a less polarizing way moving forward. As we move foreword with more posts, I’ll definitely keep your words in mind as I write.

      Like

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