Gary Cooper in the poster for “Meet John Doe”, 1941. The actor often wore ties with important patterns, but he knew how to perfectly dose colors and volumes to restore a particularly harmonious whole.
Despite persistent attempts to loosen the knot of the tie around the throat of the civilized man, this small strip of (mostly) silk continues to hold out as a bulwark of formal style and fashion. a certain conception of masculine elegance which, in fact, shows no signs of disappearing. Indeed, the most recent collections attest to an important return, perhaps caused by a protest against the rampant sloppiness of recent times.
A small fabric ornament, once a symbol of traditional well-dressed, which returns as a movement of “rebellion” towards the tendency to casualization of work and official contexts. In short, whether you like it or not, sooner or later everyone has to tie a tie around his neck. And even if it comes as a constraint, we try to do it to the best of our ability. And we try to create an overall harmony, of colors and materials, between tie and suit.
Gianni and Umberto Agnelli with Angelo Moratti in the 70s. Gianni Agnelli was always very elegant, he bent the formal rules to his personality, introducing small imperfections that made him unique. And, however much others tried, inimitable.
Tie and suit: how to combine them
But what features should our accessory have? First of all, a soft and pleasant hand to the touch. Unquestionably, therefore, the chosen fabric must be silk. And which colors, which patterns to choose?
First of all, we distinguish two macro-groups into which the patterned ties are divided: those jacquard, in which the motif is woven into the weft, and those printed. The former are fundamentally more precious, with a high level of detail and a richer hand, the others lend themselves more to the “whims” of fashion. However, opting for one reason or another must be dictated by the outfit as a whole and the occasion of use, but don’t forget that it must also satisfy your taste and your personality. Let us consider standard cases.
Domenico Gnoli, Tie, 1969
Matching tie and black suit
With the black dress it is really difficult to go wrong: it is difficult to find nuances that screech. However, avoid too bright colors, which in contrast with the depth of black would create a traffic light effect.
The role of the shirt is decisive: the white one is the classic of the classics, on which you can wear black, colored, jacquard, macro or micro-pattern ties. Everything is lawful (or almost) in this situation, and the final degree of sobriety will be guided by the occasion of use and, as already mentioned, by your personality. If the shirt is black, on the other hand, the overall effect will be very elegant (therefore it tends to be not good for the day) but you will be more connected: to have an overall harmony even the same tie must be black or in any case very dark, in plain color or with a tone-on-tone micro-pattern.
More interesting solutions occur if we opt for a gray shirt, solid color or striped: the matching tie in this case could have a micro-pattern with chiaroscuro contrasts, to give greater depth to the whole. To understand whether to go for cold or warm tones, consider the combination with the colors of eyes, hair and complexion and choose the one that enhances you the most.
1920s elegance. Fenton Bailey shooting with styling by Angelica Pianarosa on Style Magazine November 2020.
Matching tie and blue suit
It’s easy to say blue dress: a blue can be very dark or light, dull or vivid, even veering towards other colors, such as purple or green. In any case, it is a cold color, which obviously goes well with colors from the same family, with a somewhat flat result. To give more depth to the look with a blue tie and suit, we recommend trying a contrast effect with warm colorseven better if with a patterned tie that inside, in addition to the warm base, also partially reproduces the color of the dress itself.
For example, pairing a blue suit and a burgundy tie can be a winning choice, especially if the latter will have a minimum of texture. The shirt can be white, to give more detachment, or blue, to better match the suit, or even beige, to match the tie more. It depends on the element to which you want to direct your attention, always taking into account the colors of complexion, eyes and hair – repetita iuvant. We said burgundy, however, not red: the bright red tie a la Donald Trump should be banned from any male wardrobe.
Navy tie and suit vs. Electric blue tie and suit. Blues can be very different, we said. But to regulate oneself, a very simple assumption applies: the more flamboyant the suit, the less the tie will be, and vice versa (while the shirt will be a more or less neutral base). It will be like moving a cursor. So, if the chosen dress is midnight blue, the tie will have more saturated tones and you can even allow yourself to macro fantasies – without trespassing on the tacky. While, if the suit is electric blue, the tie will have desaturated tones, and will be solid color or moved by a micro pattern. In the latter case, to cut the bull’s head, the tie can also be black (on a strictly white shirt)..
Shooting by Marcello Arena with styling by Giovanni de Ruvo on Style Magazine September 2018.CopyAMP code
Matching tie and gray suit
With gray, the game becomes more complex: as rigorous as black, but colder, it generally needs to be refined. But always consider the idea that you want to give back to those who observe you: in a business context, to look all in one piece, it is also good to maintain the rigor tout-court and choose a shirt with a stick (or even with a contrast) and a black tie.
Apart from this, to “soften” the gray, the use of color is essential. We refer to what has been said for the blue dresses, with an additional arrow to our bow: the shirt. Gray, as a neutral nuance, is even more subject to the conditioning represented by the garments and accessories that match it: if the shirt is also colored, then, we can further strengthen the mood that our outfit will want to express. We always talk about desaturated colors or at most pastel, of course. For example, if a gray suit is paired with a shirt in pale sage and a tie with a low contrast texture, the effect will be very delicate; while the same suit with a powder pink shirt and a burgundy paisley tie will give us vitality and warmth.
Ties and patterns: spoiled for choice.
Tie and suit: a focus on fantasies
Generally, if the shirt is solid color you can use a patterned tie, as long as it is sober, then a micro pattern or, on the contrary, with important prints such as the typical Charvet, which are in any case in desaturated shades. If, on the other hand, it is the shirt that is patterned, it is better to go without fail with a solid color tie. Games of lines, textures and the like between the various elements can be very interesting, but we recommend them to an expert eye.
Attention also to the type of fantasy chosen:
The transversal lines, for example (as in the classic regimental), help to sculpt the face, optically decreasing its width and fullness.
The plaid tie, per the type of layered design that characterizes it, it helps to create the illusion of three-dimensionality. Very useful therefore to revive a suit and shirt in a solid color and, if the lines inside are very contrasted, it helps to attenuate the contrasts on the wearer’s face (eg very dark hair with a fair complexion).
Paisley, because associated with a certain British taste, goes particularly well with a Prince of Wales suit. Among the classic motifs of ties it is the only “irregular”: this is due to the fact that at the time it stood out on the “fun ties” of high society.
Polka dots, once relegated to women’s clothing only, actually prove to liven up any outfit. Their winning combination is, by contrast, with stripes, and therefore with pinstripe suits.
There is still a lot to say and analyze about a small strip of fabric whose origin dates back to the Thirty Years War, and which then drove the court of Louis XIV crazy. But with these few inputs, and the desire to experiment, everyone can find their perfect combination.
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