People say that warm weather is the best time for bold sportcoats. But what about our neckties?
I never liked bold sportcoats. Sure I might have some plaids in my wardrobe, but those are mainly for fall/winter. I’m talking about madras, whatever this is, and those oversized/colorful checks I see whenever someone links a pitti uomo picture. While others may be able to pull it off, it’s definitely not for me. When I tell this to people, they often say that springs/summer is the chance to be bold and fun; what else are we supposed to do if bold summer jackets are out of the question? I say go for the bold tie.
Bold neckties might give people some bad memories as most think of gangsters. And while that may be true for style in the late 1940s and early 1950s (known as the bold era), there are really different variations of it. In fact, bold neckwear has been advocated since the 1930’s and makes for an extremely classic yet interesting look. There isn’t really an exact term for the bold ties I included here, but I think it can include checks, certain foulards, and abstract prints; the idea is that they aren’t “normal” designs. I’m not really talking about these ties.
I’ve included some images from the 1930s-1940s for your viewing pleasure. Bright, colorful ties are worn with rather plain suits and shirts in order to keep things from going too crazy. In most cases, white or tan is the grounding agent, while others play with darker colors to “surround” the bold te. In general, some utilize high contrast, which is something I love for warm weather outfits. Obviously some of these outfits and silhouettes can be a little bit dated for most, but I think they still offer some great inspiration for summer attire.
Let’s fast forward to today. The bold necktie hasn’t really seen a comeback compared to other “older trends” (pleats, high rise, wide lapels), as it seems that most of contemporary menswear is obsessed with tight, foulard/geometric patterns. There’s nothing wrong with that, as a striped shirt and almost any print is enough to make me happy, but I find it a little too boring. Not only does the bold tie include that vintage vibe that I enjoy (which isn’t for everyone), I think that it just makes an outfit more interesting and different than what people normally do.
Luckily, there are a few dressers out there that keep the spirit of the bold tie alive! You can always count on Yatsuo-san of Camoshita and the Drake’s gang to kill it in the necktie department. You’ll notice that while these outfits are a little dandy for most, it’s actually not too vintage at all. They might all have sack suits, wide lapels, and bold ties, but they don’t look like a costume. I think they provide great examples on how to do 1930s-1940s style in a contemporary way, even if they might not say that vintage is what they were going for.
I want to talk a little bit about Niyi Okuboyejo, the man behind Post-Imperial. I first saw him on Articles of Style and fell in love instantly; you can see him rocking the fisted pockets back in 2013! Not only was he a great dresser, but he designs some great clothing, starting with his Nigerian print neckwear. They aren’t as crazy as some 1940s ties, but I was enamored by the prints. Repeated asymmetrical shapes fill his ties, with some pieces already featuring a bright base. It was the right amount of bold, which is why I included him in this post.
You’ll note that he still wears his bold print ties with striped shirts which again gives me that vintage vibe. It’s also just a great way to wear a patterned tie in general, since 90% of regular guys on the street (not menswear guys) can’t bring themselves to wear more than one pattern. Honestly, I just dislike wearing too much “plain” pieces all at once. Two things just gotta have a pattern!
So the main difference between myself and the contemporary guys is that I like to use vintage ties (though I think Arnold Wong does as well). Not only are these more affordable for where I am right now, but they have unique designs that you really can’t find anywhere else! As a result, they probably are a little bit bolder than the others, but I think I keep things fairly wearable.
Summer is about fun, right?
One of the best ways to pull off a bold tie (or even a funky shirt) is to wear a suit. Having two pieces of clothing in the same color to ground the tie in is essential, if you’re not feeling confident in your choices. Here, I wear a fun abstract print blue tie with a blue stripe spearpoint, and the wide legged cotton DB suit. The fact that the suit is a DB helps even more since they are certainly more “closed up” than a single breasted suit. This hides the tie and makes it more wearable.
Obviously I’m wearing a striped shirt whenever I do these looks, but that’s because a striped tie is a bit more intentional than a plain shirt. To me a plain shirt means that you’re resigning yourself to the power of the bold tie, while a striped one shows that you know what you’re doing. In most cases, any striped shirt will do, though pay attention to the scaling.
I wouldn’t do a checked shirt with a bold tie though.
Doing a bold tie with separates is definitely a tougher feat since you now have to coordinate the trousers into the rest of the outfit. Luckily, spring/summer means that you are allowed to bring out brighter colors and mix them with dark ones in order to create some high contrast looks. In general, white or cream trousers are the best choices as an odd trouser, since they literally go with anything.
I’m not sure if I honed my tastes or if it was always inherent, but I always like to pick bold ties that contain a white in some capacity. That way the piece be echoed effectively in the pocket square and trouser, so it doesn’t appear to come out of nowhere (which is usually the case with bold ties). The use of a striped shirt also helps, since they usually contain white as well.
While I do like my classic foulards and stripes, I usually opt for the bold tie when it comes to spring/summer. It adds just a bit of personality and fun that I think is largely missing in menswear, since most guys opt for crazy checked linen-blends that I don’t like. Most of my attire is rather plain ( I seldom have patterned jackets other than a few checked tweeds), which is why I opt for the bold tie instead.
Drake’s makes some great ties (as does Sevenfold/Tie Your Tie), but I will always prefer vintage ones. There’s just something unique about vintage ties that have a little more interest; plus it helps that you’re probably the only one with that particular tie. Now I’m not recommending that you simply wear any vintage tie to achieve the look. If you can’t tell, I prefer designs that a pretty geometric in nature, and have a some spacing in order to contrast well with my striped shirts. Even some of the wilder ones have white in them, which makes it easy to pair with neutrals.
Hopefully you’ve gained some inspiration from this post and get a chance to do it yourself. It’s a different way to have some sartorial fun in the warmer months! Of course, I may be biased toward bringing vintage style to the modern day.
Always a pleasure,