Friday, February 8, 2013

Practiecality: Part 1

Yes, it's Practiecality. Following up on a reader question, I'll be taking a few posts to explain building one's tie collection.

This is a cheap but well-made cotton tie from Belk, and for one dollar at a thrift shop, I could do a lot worse. So while a cotton tie certainly isn't the most versatile piece to enter your wardrobe, it may be the easiest to purchase without much regard for quality. When you purchase a cotton shirt, high thread counts generally equal high quality. When you purchase a cotton tie, thread count is no issue. Cotton ties are inherently casual, and as such, the only issues to concern yourself with are stains and rips. I've acquired over fifty cotton ties - knit, oxford, poplin, twill, seersucker, etc. - and it doesn't matter whether the label reads Robert Talbott Genuine Indian Bleeding Madras Made in USA or Meeting Street Hand Made in China. As long as you like the look of it, you're set.

For what colors and patterns should one be searching?

Well, if your main route of acquisition is the thrift shop, take what comes to you. As with silks and wools, solids are most versatile but - let's face it - often boring.

Solid navy is the essential starter for woven or knit cotton.

From there, go for striped knits. They're plentiful on eBay for less than ten dollars. Stick to two and three-color variations for the sake of shirt pairings. Striped wovens are great but harder to find, especially seersucker. 

Next, feel free going mad for plaid. Searching cotton plaid tie (rather than madras) on eBay brings up loads of cheap options. Keep in mind that when wearing most plaids, you're limited to a solid shirt that goes with a dominant color in your tie.

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