I have a very specific, personal rule when it comes to buying ties - don't ever buy new ties.
However, there are two even more specific exceptions to this rule. Countess Mara bow ties are fine, as they're a great value and decent bow ties are hard to come by on eBay and in thrift shops. And, if I'm to buy a regular necktie, it has to feature an incredible design. This is not to say I'll go out and buy a polyester piece of junk because it looks great, because there's no exception and no excuse for buying synthetic materials. I have to be really wowed by a tie's pattern (though construction is still important), and this happens maybe four times a year.
I discovered this Chaps tie at Kohl's recently, on sale for approximately $19. Though reminiscent of some Ralph Lauren Purple Label designs of recent years, I'd never seen anything quite like this. With only one of these ties on the rack, I took the plunge and came away with this tie for $16 (after coupon). Easily the loudest tie I own, I'm very proud of my purchase. What do you think of it?
All this makes me think of what it means to be stylish. Sure, we often feel compelled to spend more on nicer brands to feel stylish. Yet, style begins with fit, with suitable colors and patterns for the proper occasion. Does my new tie look expensive? Maybe. Does it matter? What matters is that I pair it with a well-fitting shirt, trouser and shoe, and I'll be more stylish than the guy who buys an oversized (insert flashy designer name here) suit just because he can.