Ties, Ties, and More Ties

We’ve been off talking about fashion vis-a-vis films, the quirks of football, and so on, for a while.  Well, it’s time to go back to our roots, and talk about the intricacies of one of our favorite subjects: ties!  We’ve been thinking about ties more than usual lately, especially since we’re involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society right now, selling special red ties featuring the LLS’s logo embroidered on the tip at $195 each, with $50 of each sale going back to the LLS.  And they happen to be available right now in both our Long Island and Naples showrooms!  Be sure to drop by and pick one up, or give us a call to order one.

You know why we’re thinking about ties, but what, someone might ask, could one possibly be thinking about ties so much?  Ties are just ties, right?  Well, not really.  Ties are deceptively simple.  After all, it’s just a strip of fabric around your neck.  But there really is no end to the little details and slight alterations to the basic tie formula one can find out there, and believe it or not, the right tie can make a suit, while the wrong tie can completely destroy it.  Let’s go over some of those fine details…

Patterns

cotton-tiesThis is the obvious one.  The first thing you’ll notice on a tie rack, after the colors, are the patterns.  There are an insane number of them, but here are the principal ones…

  • Solids: Versatile and simultaneously daring and conservative.  Dark solids go well with solid suits, patterned jackets, and shirts.  Basically, the go-to tie pattern.
  • Reps or Stripes: Stripes usually show up diagonally, and are pretty much the “safe business tie.”  Order, dependability and trustworthiness are the name of the game here, though boldly colored stripes can be a subtle way of saying “look at me” more strongly.  You can pull one of these off with a striped shirt, but you have to carefully compare the stripe pattern of the shirt with the tie, and make sure they don’t clash.  Shorter people should avoid horizontal stripes at all costs!
  • Checks or Plaids: Usually made of wool, and traditionally seen as casualwear, they go well with tweed or herringbone patterns in flannel or summer jackets.  Plaids are never, ever worn with a pin-striped suit.
  • Foulards or Ivy League: Very popular right now, these ties repeat a small, usually subtle motif of some sort all over the tie, from top to bottom.  From the basic polka dots (the smaller the dot, the more formal the tie) to neat patterns of basic shapes, there’s an endless supply of things one can do here.  They can be formal, casual, and everything in-between, depending on the pattern.
  • Clubs: Associated with particular sports clubs or other associations, these ties feature little golfers, animals, vehicles, shields and swords, and so on.  Really only meant to be worn at a club that matches the theme, unless one is going for some sort of sarcastic irony.
  • Florals and Abstracts: Debonair and stylish, they are not nearly as rigid or formal as the other main patterns . Paisley is a perfect example of a floral that is attractive, daring, and understated and formal at the same time.
  • Neat: Usually small, tight patterns woven into the tie fabric, geometric or otherwise.  A good standard tie to wear when you’re tired of the solids.

When picking a tie for a suit or sport coat, the patterns and the colors are the most important part of the decision.  You want to make sure everything works together.  It doesn’t always have to be a perfect match, but as long as colors and patterns compliment each other, you should be good to go!

With solid suits: it’s almost a free-for-all.  You can bring in almost any tie pattern you’d like here.  You only need to consider what style of shirt to wear with it.  Plain suit?  Easy to pick a tie there, you can wear anything.  Striped?  You want to go with any patterned tie except striped, unless the width of the stripes on the tie is vastly different from the width of the stripes on the shirt.  With pinstriped suits, if you want a striped tie, the width of the stripes on the suit and the tie should never be the same.  Very narrow striped ties will work on a wide, pinstriped suit.  When in doubt, go with any other patterned tie, like neats, paisleys, polka dots, et cetera.  With plaid or window paned suits, you could always go bold with a plaid on plaid tie/suit combo, but this isn’t for everyone.  Stripes will always work with a plaid suit, as well as solids, solid textured ties, or small, neat patterns.

Don’t forget to work patterns with colors!

Widths

mens-skinny-tie1Standard width for ties is 3.5″ (roughly 9cm), and that’s always classic, and will never be out of style.  You can make a small or a big knot with it.  Standard width ties, no matter the type, should always have a dimple formed in the tie just below the knot.  We’re talking about a classic look here, worn with all types of suits, and all body builds.

The skinny tie is more of a fashion trend, and most popularly seen with very slim fitting suits, and very leanly built men.  That is not to say that these suits and men should only use skinny ties.  Rarely will you see a football player wearing a skinny tie.  With skinny knots, you will not get the big double Windsor knot, and most likely will not get a dimple in the tie.  It will just be rounded below the knot.

Colors

google_colors_tie_1-p151183049997960475env51_325The tie’s job is to tie (ha!) all parts of the outfit together.  If you want, though, you can make it more of a statement piece, as long as you don’t look like a refugee from a Tim Burton movie.

johnny-depp-mad-hatter

What happens when you don’t take our advice.

There should be similar, if not the same, coloring of the suit in some part of the tie coloring.  This could be the whole tie, or only small hints. Once you get this, then you want to bring in colors of the shirt, and then any other colors that will compliment the outfit.  For example, a navy suit with a white shirt will look great with a tie that might have navy, blue & yellow coloring, or navy & lavender coloring.  If you want more of a bold fashion look, go with a color that compliments the suit color, but doesn’t have any of the suit coloring in it.  We at Joseph’s don’t favor a tie that matches the shirt, and has none of the suit coloring in it.

Length

long-tied-necktieAfter tying the knot, the tip of the tie should come to the middle of your belt buckle.  Guys 6’2″ and over might want to look into extra long ties.

Pocket Squares

Howtofoldpocketsquare-fOur advice on pocket squares is to match the shirt, OR bring in tons of complimentary colors that will create a distinctive look with the outfit.  Most men match their pocket square with their tie pattern.  We do not do this, and don’t recommend it!

Bowties

11.5.12-Menswear-Monday-5

Bowties are a great look with a suit, a sport coat, or a tuxedo.  Mostly seen worn with tuxes, lately, fashion trends call for bowties with everything.  All different shapes, sizes and patterns.  The same rules apply with bowties that apply with ties.

To wrap all of this information up, our founder and owner, Joey Wendt, had this to say on the subject: “Never underestimate the power that a tie or bowtie can have on an outfit.  Have some fun, go bold, and make what may be a conservative look stand out.  Your standard navy pinstripe suit, white shirt, and navy diagonal striped tie don’t get noticed.”

These rules are simply what have been the standards for some time, but that’s not to say that ties can’t be used as a fun expression of one’s personality and style.  Whether you go for a bold or a conservative style, have fun with your tie selection.  Ties are an intricate part of pulling an entire outfit together, and definitely do not go unnoticed if you do it right!

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Bond, James Bond, Part 2: Sean Connery and George Lazenby (1962-1971)

It’s time to return to the world of spies and vodka martinis, “shaken, not stirred.”  And just in time, too, because today marks the North American release of the 23rd official James Bond film, “Skyfall.”  We’ll be first in line to see it!

But before we head on an adventure with Daniel Craig’s Bond, it’s time to take a trip to the past, to where we left off in the James Bond fashion chronology, all the way back to 1962. The process of bringing James Bond to the screen from the page was not an easy one, to say the least.  We won’t go into the details here, it would take far too long.  But the lasing legacy of the long process was the choice of Sean Connery as James Bond.
As we told you last time, Bond in the novels was a sort of portmanteau of Ian Fleming himself crossed with his former buddies in British Intelligence circles.  When Fleming imagined Bond, he basically imagined a more dapper version of himself.

“Goldfinger,” starring your Fifth Grade math teacher!

The film’s producers at first didn’t stray too far from the idea, wanting Cary Grant for the role.  Grant, though, refused to sign a multi-picture deal, and the producers were banking on a franchise.  They went through British actor Richard Johnson, Patrick McGoohan and David Niven, never able to reach consensus.  They even ran a contest to choose bond, eventually settling on a 28-year-old model named Peter Anthony, who was nowhere near prepared for the role.  Legend has it they even considered future Bond Roger Moore, though he denies it.

Finally, a scruffy, 30-year-old Scotsman in unpressed clothes came in to try out for the part, and absolutely oozed a macho, devil-may-care attitude.  He didn’t look like the novel’s description, but he felt like the character, through-and-through.  The producers knew on the spot that Sean Connery was their man.

How could they not?

There was, however, a problem.  He had zero fashion sense, and was as sophisticated and cultured as a dump truck.  Director Terence Young, himself a suave and debonair playboy of the highest order, took Connery under his wing, introducing him to the high life and high fashion of London.  He took him to his own personal tailor, Anthony Sinclair, at 43 Conduit Street.  The paired-down look of the suits Connery ended up wearing throughout his time as Bond became known as the “Conduit cut”: lightweight 100% wool in navy blue and shades of grey with a subtle check, “waisted” in a slimline, single-breasted, two-button format.  The idea was for Bond to look well-dressed, but not stand out in a crowd, sound advice for a spy.

Connery had never worn a suit for any length of time before, and was apparently insanely uncomfortable in one.  So Young had Connery wear the suits CONSTANTLY, all day, every day, during pre-production, until they felt like a second skin to him.

It seems to have worked…

For all intents and purposes, Young turned Connery into a more gruff (and Scottish) version of himself, rather than of Fleming.  This act has influenced the way Bond has been portrayed ever since, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, dark with a dash of humor, as opposed to the more brutal, cold-hearted version of the character from the books (although that’s come back a bit…more on that later).  Bond became a fashion icon in his own right, now that his internal monologue was missing.  Instead of commenting on what other people were wearing, he dressed to the nines himself, but then, so did his adversaries and allies.

In the first of Connery’s Bond films, 1962’s “Dr. No,” Bond informs CIA agent Felix Leiter that his suits were tailored in Savile Row, even though they were not, a slight nod to the books and to Fleming.  The fashion in the first two films, “Dr. No” and 1963’s “From Russia With Love,” retains the basic look that Young gave Connery, all designed by Sinclair, and all accompanied by shirts from Turnbull & Asser.

The suits are remarkably simple, and, in fact, Bond never even dons a belt, so as to keep the sleek lines of the suits uninterrupted.  The pants all sit at the waits, not the hip, another way to keep the lines more unified.  Bond wears, almost exclusively, dark blue grenadine ties for the entire films.  He frequently wears a white linen pocket square, neatly folded into the front of his jackets.  And, hilariously, despite Bond’s hatred of Windsor knots, he wears them in “Dr. No,” before properly shifting to four-in-hand knots from “From Russia With Love” on.

Interestingly, the suits in the first two films are more timeless than suits in the films that followed.  They could all be easily worn today.  The next three films, 1964’s “Goldfinger,” 1965’s “Thunderball” and 1967’s “You Only Live Twice,” all featured far narrower lapels, muted browns, and old-fashioned three-piece cuts, all very, very ’60s, though we do mean that in a good way.

Rumor has it that some American tailors were used in “Goldfinger,” which makes sense, since more fashionable (for the time) details like pageboy waistcoats suddenly show up.  The number of materials and colors also expands dramatically.  But the basic cut remains the same, until the next film in the series, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

OHMSS brought in not just new fashion, but a new Bond, in the form of Australian model George Lazenby, after Sean Connery declined to return for a sixth, extra contractual film.  Peter Hunt, director of OHMSS, was a fashion-conscious gentleman in his own right, and was given broad leeway in the way this new Bond would be presented, using his own favorite tailor, Dimi Major of Fulham, London W1.  Possibly because of Lazenby’s more “pretty” look, and experience as a model, as well as acknowledgement of the more brazen and colorful styles that had come to dominate fashion in the seven years since “Dr. No,” Bond was given a much larger and more colorful wardrobe.  A modified version of the “Conduit cut” from prior films was still used in the London scenes, but unlike before, Bond wore more than that sleek, simple cut when out of the glare of MI6, even wearing an astonishing cream-colored suit at one point.  Did we mention the ruffles?

But come 1971, Connery came back for one more Bond, “Diamonds Are Forever.”  The film is a bit of a wacky outlier for the Bond series, and even though Connery brought the more muted styles and colors of his films back with him (likely along with tailor Anthony Sinclair), some of the OHMSS style remained, likely a result of the American side of the production not collaborating with the English side completely.  Connery even wears a cream-colored suit himself, at one point.  And even the muted, London suits are slightly changed, with the wider lapels of the ’70s making their appearance felt.

This brings us to the end of Connery’s tenure, until his brief return with the unofficial “Never Say Never Again” in 1983.  Roger Moore and excesses of the ’70s are next, and we’ll pick up there in Part 3.  Until next time…

Ahhhh!

Color Commentary on the Color Commentators

In case it isn’t obvious from our blog and our Facebook page, we’re kind of big on football here at Joseph’s.  And this is the time of year when we’re most excited about it: just as the preseason starts!  Preseason means football on television again for the first time in months!  It also means that in just a few weeks, those wonderful, cozy Sundays spent in front of the TV with friends and family watching America’s favorite game will be here again.  What does any of this have to do with us, custom suit designers?  Well, for one thing, a lot of our customers are NFL players and people associated with the League.  Which is a big reason football season is so exciting for us, especially based, as we are, in the hometown of the defending Super Bowl Champions!  But another fantastic pastime is returning along with the football season: the pre-game shows and their commentators, who are always, ALWAYS decked out in top-of-the-line suits and accessories.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: just because a suit cost a lot or was made by a great company doesn’t automatically mean it looks good or that you’re wearing it right!  With that in mind, let’s take a look at the “big three” NFL pre-game broadcasts and their lineup of sartorially-minded sportscasters.
CBS – The NFL Today

CBS’ broadcast has the feel of being the most old-fashioned of the three.  While FOX, being FOX, is somewhat flashier, and NBC is full-on epic, complete with a John Williams-penned opening theme, CBS still feels like the broadcasts from the halcyon days of the Steelers and 49ers in the ’70s and ’80s (somewhere out there, a Baby Boomer Packers fan is rolling their eyes).  And their lineup of hosts is no exception.  Featuring the always stalwart Boomer Esiason, Dan Marino and James Brown, the group is perked up by “The Chin” himself, Bill Cowher, and the always energetic and hilarious Shannon Sharpe.  This is reflected in the way they dress:

Left to right: Sharpe, Marino, Brown, Cowher, Esiason.

Nice, all of them, but a little “run-of-the-mill broadcaster” in some cases.  Esiason and Brown could pass for Senators.  Marino spices it up a little with unusual ties.  This works sometimes, like in this picture, where the seemingly mismatched colors work with the pale blue undershirt.  Other times, not so much.

But check out Coach Cowher, who seems to have embraced the power of the pinstripe wholeheartedly. For a guy best known for this…

AAAAHHHH!!

He certainly cleans up well:

It’s very easy to overuse pinstripes and end up looking like a ’20s gangster. Cowher never does this, and always wears pale, subtle pinstripes, that accentuate his fit form, and make him look quite dashing.

But the winner on CBS?

He wears pink ties and pocket squares without a care in the world.

Shannon Sharpe take elements that would look garish and over-the-top on many people, and makes them WORK.  Mostly because he carries himself with a comfortable, happy, easy confidence.  If he felt awkward, he’d look awkward.  As is, he just looks classically flashy and suave.  And pocket squares can make an outfit all on their own, but only if they’re used right.  Sharpe uses them right, picking the right suits to add them to, and the right colors of squares to add.  Just look at this guy!

He KNOWS he looks good.

We cannot stress this enough, all the money and tailoring in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the confidence and swagger to make it a part of you, like a second skin.  Sharpe does this in spades.

FOX – The NFL on Fox

FOX, flashy as it is with its orchestral hard rock theme and big, yellow graphics, would seem to be the perfect place for a bevy of Shannon Sharpes.  Instead, they have a group of more old-school names…

Left to right: Menefee, Bradshaw, Long, Strahan, Glazer, Johnson.

But they dress a lot flashier than their opposite numbers at CBS.  Colorful ties abound, as does a spectrum of suit colors, through blacks, blues, greys and even a touch of violet.  Some with pinstripes, some without, some with pocket squares, some without…  The experimentation looks great on the very, very tall Howie Long, who towers over everyone but Michael Strahan.  A three-piece black suit with a pale violet pocket square and tie?  Up-scale flashiness.  Nice.  But the crew cut isn’t doing him any favors.  Strahan has the same kind of comfortableness with color and style experimenting.  They both work, really, so it’s a tie here.

All bow before The Gap.

Gotta love the hatched lines in the fabric.

NBC – Football Night in America

Ah, NBC.  Poor NBC.  It’s getting torn a new one for its Olympic coverage right now, and the golden days of Must See TV are long gone.  But say what you will about the occasionally awkward Faith Hill intro sequence, NBC Sunday Night Football is probably the slickest sports production on TV right now, and the pre-game show is no exception.  Headlined by Bob Costas, the analyst team is an unusual mix of sportscasters, former players and coaches of extremely varied ages and styles.

C’mon, he’s been the voice of the Olympics for 20 years, Costas deserves his own picture!

Left to Right: Patrick, Dungy, Harrison.

Really, all of them do it well.  Costas, despite his small frame, always wears great color combos and well-tailored suits for his build.  Rodney Harrison has a lot of fun with his suits, bounding between traditional and blindingly unusual from week-to-week, and Tony Dungy and Dan Patrick are always sartorially solid, dressed perfectly every week.  So who wins this round?  The guy who isn’t there yet.

This guy.

Hines Ward will be joining Football Night in America this season, and a quick look at some of the more fantastic suits he’s worn over the years tells us he’ll be bringing a Sharpe-like fun and confident tone to the show.

Just leave the dance moves at home, Hines.

Milan Men’s Fashion Week: 2012 Trend Report

Hey, pouty!  So, you did not make it to this year’s Milan Men’s Fashion Week…  You missed all the shows, after parties, mingling with celebrities, the delicious food (and drinks), and all that comes with an event of this caliber?

Get over it!  You saved yourself some Euros that you can now put towards a brand new wardrobe, sans hangover.  So, to update your new wardrobe, this is what will be trending at the show.  Now, this is something you should not miss and must have!

Alexander McQueen. Fitted with extra attention to details!

Canali.  Bring out your inner modern dapper. Double-breasted, check! Ticket pocket, check! Cuffed pants, check! Superb, double check!

Brioni.  Colorful, hell yeah! It’s not like we haven’t been begging you to splash your closet with color for sometime now…

Emporio Armani. This seems like a fantastic spring trend. Double-breasted jacket & shorts. We most definitely can’t wait!

Gucci. Did we say color? Yes, color! Patterns! Get out there, out loud!

Roberto Cavalli. Okay, yes, we said color. Now, don’t overdo it! There is a very thin line between awesome and… Well, not so much.

Z Zegna. Across the thin line… An abomination.

Moschino. Built-in cummerbund, denim shirt, bow tie, sneakers, pocket square? No comments, our brains are still processing such a disaster!

Ports 1961. Hands down, the Spring 2013 menswear trend we can’t wait for! Jacket & shorts!

PS, just for the record. Don’t you ever wear this, even on Halloween! What happened, Moschino?!

The Fashion Police Patrols the 2012 NFL Draft

“Hall of famer Bert Bell spearheaded the idea of a player draft in the 1930’s.

The idea came to fruition with the holding of the NFL’s first ever player draft in 1936. Since that time what has happened in the draft room has set the stage for what happens on the field shaping the destiny of teams for years to come.

More than ten thousand of the best players from the college ranks have been drafted to play pro ball. Some never played a single down, others have managed to have long careers, and a select few went on to greatness.”

-From the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s website

Competitive parity, check!  It gives football fans like us warm feelings to read those words…  And that’s nice and all, but you know we are more concerned about clothes(breaking news!), so here is a look at some of the top ten picks of this year’s draft from a more sartorial perspective…

Colts QB Andrew Luck! Well, good Luck to you and get a good clothier. Can't expect grandness looking so, well, safe and plain... C'mon man, at least wear a pocket square. Verdict? Too safe. And you don't advance much in life by being safe.

2nd pick, QB Robert Griffin III for the Redskins. We see sartorial potential in the raw! We love the idea of a lighter color suit and plaid shirt. Hopefully, his contract will bring him, among other things, a full sartorial wardrobe.

3rd pick, RB Trent Richardson. Oh, Trent, all done with college football. On the other hand, your wardrobe is still missing a couple of more classes. One of the lessons you missed is "less is more." In other words, too much trimming. We think just the lapels would have done the trick!

4th pick, OT Matt Kalil. We like what Kalil did. When in doubt, stick to what you know. Well done. A three-piece pinstripe suit is always classic, and a dash of color on the tie? Bravo!

6th pick, CB Morris Claiborne. Hmmm. We are not 100% sure the "bank magnate" is the perfect look for a 22-year-old. Really pushing the envelope far too much. He would have been great in a light fitted suit with a playful shirt and tie combination. Oh well, hang on Morris, there will be plenty more events.

7th pick, S Mark Barron. What happened?! You almost got it, kid. Major points taken off with the oversized gold watch and last minute pocket square. And just two questions: why is the lining of your jacket blue? And, are you wearing white socks?! Because white socks match the white pocket square? Oh nooo...

8th pick, QB Ryan Tannehill. An OK look, overall. We love monograms, so good job, Ryan. Now, who is picking these nonsensical pocket squares?! And we are under the impression the Ryan had on a brown belt with black shoes, can someone pass a note: "huge no-no"?

10th pick, Stephon Gilmore. Here we go, finally! This is what we are talking about: effortless, classic, age appropriate, clean-cut look! Good job, Stephon, hope to see you soon!

Spring Portfolio

A sartorial guy could never be happier.  Men’s fashion is at its peak, but with so many choices it can be at bit overwhelming.  Unless you are a Hollywood actor, a jet setter or a royal with his own stylist, read on!

Jealous yet?

The forecast is bright and bold with scattered sensitivity (dusty pastel colors) with extra style (accessorize, accessorize; we spotted even day cravats and velvet Prince Alberts).  So, for now, put your fedoras, too-tight jeans and picked pocket squares away, and forever put away designer logo belts, leather car coats, and, most definitely, square-toe shoes, hallelujah!

The fellow on the right may have taken it a BIT too far...

To start, you know spring brings beautiful, almost perfect weather, and lots of blooming, which requires lots of showers.  Dress amazingly even under wet conditions.  Our pick?  The perfect spring jacket is water-resistant.  Pick one in a bright shade for an A+ grade!

Suede shoes in grey! Pair with bright colors or revamp your old black suit, but they will most definitely be BFF with your dusty pastels.

Gather all your swag! Bright color jeans are huge this season!

The boat shoe! In its latest edition, think breaking country club rules in bright colors/patterns.

Dress shoes with too much attitude: the last element of your power suit, for sure!

Fantastic pocket squares? A+ (in a puff fold, obviously)

And last but never the least, yes, dear Mr. Sun, we are Ready. Tortoise shell sunglasses!