Knit tie, right tie?

Knit tie, right tie?

Q. I went recently to a men’s store to buy a black knit tie to replace one that I have worn for some time; it is beginning to show its age. When I asked the bright young clerk to show me their knit tie collection, he replied that he would be happy to “as soon as knit ties come back in style”! Where have I been? I thought my knit tie looked especially good with my blue denim shirt or with one of my plaid flannel shirts. Was the clerk right; do I have to wait for them to come back “in style”?

A. No, where has he been? While knit ties have never been the height of current fashion, they have always been classics and do not go out-of-style. While many men question solid ties of any type (whether they are solid knits or solid smooth silks), some of the most stylish and “wild” dressing men will rely on them in situations such as you have suggested – to be a complement to a significant pattern. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the star point guard from the Kentucky Wild Cats, wore one at the NBA draft when he was selected by the Clippers. His combination of a yellow, gold, and green floral print suit and matching shirt is not something I’d recommend for everybody (or, pretty much, anybody), but that tie choice seems the best way to go. (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s Tie). I have been recommending for years that every man should have a couple of solid color ties and at least one solid color knit tie in his wardrobe.

You were probably shopping in the wrong store. Trendy stores are less likely to stock them, but almost any upscale men’s shop or quality department store should indeed have at least a small collection of knit ties for you to choose from. Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart always have them. So do the better catalog companies, such as Lands’ End and Jos. A Bank.

Since knit ties are somewhat informal, pairing one with a denim/chambray shirt or with a plaid flannel is always appropriate, but you certainly do not need to limit yourself to such super-casual mixes. Today, in this not-so-dressed-up era, when suits are worn much less often than in the past, a knit tie is a nice look that may be more useful than ever before.

Any shirt that is not especially dressy (such as an elegant white broadcloth with French cuffs) works with a knit tie. Among the casual looks that seem to call out for a knit tie is an Oxford cloth button-down collar shirt layered under a V-neck or a crew-neck sweater. Wool tweed sports coats look better with the slightly rough texture of a knit tie than with a dressier smooth silk. Any busy pattern, noticeably bold color, or vivid stripe can be nicely toned down with a knit tie. I particularly like a blue-and-white Bengal stripe shirt with a navy silk knit tie. Another handsome combination, if you are lucky enough to find it, is a smart shirt pattern such as a gingham check, paired with a knit tie.

When I was lecturing recently for an Honors Program class at Mercy College, I was surprised to learn that many of the young guys in the audience had never seen one and did not even know what a knit tie was. Here are a few points of description.

· Knit ties are made in any of three different materials: wool, silk, or cotton. Silk, the least common of the three, is correct for any time of year. Wool, the most common of the three, is correct for fall and winter. Cotton is primarily worn in warm weather.
· Knit ties always have a square bottom, not the standard pointed shape of most neckties.
· Knit ties are always on the narrow side, even when the fashion pendulum swings to wider ties.
· The vast majority of knit ties are solid color.
· Knit ties are generally (but not always) a bit less expensive than more standard smooth silk ties.

Try another store. Finding such a versatile addition to your closet is definitely worth the search . . . floral suit optional.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL:

Categories: Male Call