As a young, London-trained barrister, Mahatma Gandhi wore traditional business attire and pulled it off with aplomb. But it wasn't until he shed his suit and tie in favor of simple hand-spun sheet of locally produced cloth — aka khadi — that he emerged as a world-changing force. While rulers and revolutionaries alike typically signal their power and/or aspirations to power through crowns, brocade, epaulettes, sashes, and other ostensibly dazzling sartorial semaphores, Gandhi went in the complete opposite direction. His entire wardrobe appeared to consist of a bedsheet.
But if clothes make the man, it's also true, though much rarer, that the man can sometimes make the clothes. Gandhi donned a simple sheet and established himself as an icon of understated but indomitable will. His message was so true, and his convictions so strong, that he didn't need to clothe them in anything more elaborate than plain white cloth.
Now let us be clear here. We're not saying everyone — or really even anyone — should dress like Gandhi. If we said that, we'd never sell another belt or tie. But talk about artful dishevelment! Talk about not trying too hard! While Gandhi's wardrobe lacked variety, it had style to spare. And that's why, today, on Gandhi's birthday, we are breaking out the Bulleit and the Laphroaig and toasting the father of an independent India — and the father of business casual. Before Hef went to work in a bathrobe, before Steve Jobs prowled the hallways of Atari in bare feet, before Mark Zuckerberg taught mankind to share everything in a hoodie, there was Gandhi, showing the world you don't always need a power tie to be powerful. Our glasses are raised in his honor.
With the exception of his odd — and thankfully short — facial hair experiment earlier this year, White House press secretary Jay Carney has been a model of McDonald's-like consistency for nearly 3.5 years and 1,000 or so press conferences: the same Type A bedhead, the same equivocation and obfuscation, and the same structurally entrenched shirt and tie knot inequality.
If you insist on artificially boosting your jowl optics by wearing a spread collar, at least have the sense to tie a Windsor knot.
While Carney replacement Josh Earnest has a look that calmly proclaims "I'm the number 2 producer in the Topeka field office.," at least he understands the geometric benefits of point collars and proper knot pairings.
Q: Hey guys, was wondering if there's a new tie stock coming to the shop? Something for the in-coming wedding season.
Also Allen Edmonds is now offering made-to-order golf-soles on some of their shoes if you wanted a golfing McAllister. Thanks. —D. Holden
A: While our design and procurement processes remain somewhat "artisinal" — i.e., we are still a little too apt to negotiate with Shengzen factory reps when we've spent the afternoon testing Pourcast — we are slowly mastering the dark arts of product development and do indeed have some new things on the way. Including a tie that we believe will work well at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals of those you loved very, very dearly. However, because of the artwork that will be featured on this tie's tipping — see image — we don't recommend wearing it if you're the groom. (Why start your honeymoon with a jealous wife?)
These ties will feature a bold heart-to-sword regimental stripe and are made of raw silk — perfect for spring, summer, and temperate climates throughout the year. The prototypes are done, so they should be in stock within a matter of weeks. Check back often.
Now, on to the golfing McAllisters. If we were stuck in jury duty in a courtroom with enough room to practice our chipping, we would definitely consider these. They are a handsome shoe — but given that we we find ourselves wearing sneakerized footwear even in places where we might have worn lace-up oxford dress shoes (court appearances, board meetings, IRS audits), we can't really imagine wearing lace-up oxfords on fairways, even if they have the sole for it.
Our current favorite golf shoes are these Puma Clydes, which deliver sporty style but maintain a comfortable distance from Ricky Fowler territory. We recommend them in Castlerock. But at the prices you can currently get them at Amazon — approximately $30 to $45 a pair, depending on color and size — you can buy a different color for every day of the week and still spend less than you would on a single pair of the the McAllisters.
At Yoox, you will find loads of stylish, Italian-made suits for as cheap as a couple hundred bucks. And here's the best part: the site's vast selection and 100-country reach means that your guy will be the only man within his zip code — or maybe even his time zone — wearing whatever suit you choose.
This is in stark contrast to what we perceive as the Ludlowization of the young, upwardly mobile professional suit market — named after J.Crew's increasingly ubiquitous invasive species. The popularity of the Ludlow eludes us. Why spend $700 on a made-in-China suit with prop buttons and anemic lapels when you can buy Prada, Piombo, or Martin Margiela for less? Pick up one of these, and you'll have more than enough left over to add a tie from our store to your shopping list.
In solidarity with besieged Ukrainian troops in Crimea, Turchynov is wearing his own uniform, The Michael Lohan, which consists of a black mockneck under a blazer. While we believe that this no way to run a country, we continue to support President Turchynov in his effort to maintain Ukrainian independence in the face of increasing Russian aggression.
We freely admit our knowledge of global affairs is limited. But Ukraine has us especially baffled. Based on this photo of Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's Parliament appears to have a two-drink minimum. But no dress code?
As longtime champions of business casual, we love that tall tumbler of what we're interpreting as bourbon on the new Acting President's desk. But isn't there some provision in the Geneva Convention that says that when you're the leader of an entire country, you have to wear a tie to work?
Obviously, Mr Turchynov has a lot of things on his plate right now, and shopping for ties is not one of them. Which is why we're reaching out, in a gesture of global goodwill, and sending him a complimentary wool tie.
As the photos above document, a Leotardo is now on its way to Kiev.
Q: Hey MB! I'm going to buy your Buscemi tie tomorrow and wanted some simple advice. I was going to buy a shirt from Deo Veritas but was unsure what would go with that specific tie? I've been a longtime fan and always practice MB principles.
Thank you in advance,
A: Much more so than ourotherties, the Buscemi is a statement piece. Given the principle that the number of statement pieces per outfit should always be less-than or equal-to 1, the rest of your look should be quiet, a canvas on which the Buscemi's off-kilter charisma can shine.
In other words, we recommend it on a solid. But not just any solid. You want a distinctive play on texture here, pitting the yin of the tie's nubs against the yang of smooth, tightly-woven shirting. This leads us directly to the Thomas Mason broadcloths in white, baby blue, or light pink.
Be sure to opt for the sewn collar and mother of pearl buttons. It will add up to a fairly hefty $139, but it's 25% off through Feb. 28.
And take note re: the Buscemi. While we're having reinforcements made, there are just a few left from our initial production run. If you want to avoid delays, order it sooner rather than later.
As our archives can tell you, we don't necessarily think bow ties should be illegal or even heavily regulated. But we do think you should wear them only in certain situations, namely summer weddings and black tie.
That said, we love this beaver fur bow tie from Vanities. In general, bow ties aim to convey the wearer's unique sense of style in a playful, unexpected, and attention-getting way, usually by using bright colors and/or vivid patterns. This fur bow tie, however, is simultaneously over-the-top and engagingly understated.
Also, as we have counseled in the past, artful dishevelment is a must when it comes to bow ties. And this one has the artful dishevelment built right in.
Even on sale at Barney's Warehouse, it's a little pricey. But don't think of it as a $169 bow tie. Think of it as the only bow tie in the world that can credibly double as a luxury shaving brush.
If there's one hard and fast rule that defines the menswear industry, it's this: What starts on the streets of Pulaski eventually trickles up to the runways of Manhattan. And so it was at New York Fashion Week this year — where we spotted a Michael Bastian tie (and blazer) that is not-quite the identical twin of our beloved Buscemi, but certainly a brother from the same mother. Same pattern, same nubbiness, from the same mill in Biella, Italy. The colorway we chose has a bit more blue, which gives it that playfulness that makes it work on boardwalks as well as boardrooms.
Also, our model is better looking.
In any case, if it was ever in any doubt, it is now confirmed: Michael Bastian has great taste in ties. And he seems to have fallen in love with this particular fabric — using it for a bow tie as well as the aforementioned tie and blazer.
But if you don't want to wait until Fall 2014 to get his tie, you can get the Fall 2013 Buscemi now.
And because we know Mr. Bastian has had trouble affording his own clothes in the past, we've decided to make it easy for him — and anyone else — to pick one up. Starting now, the Buscemi, the Leotardo (whose fabric comes from the same Italian mill as the Buscemi), the Kakutani, and the Buckley, are all on sale, for just $45 each. Yes, with free shipping included, this almost qualifies as a humanitarian gesture. But what can we say? We're artists, not businessmen.
Q: Before you went Eat, Pray, Love you used to rail against the skinny tie. Like RAIL against it. Now you've come back and opened a store that sells only skinny ties. Do you find this at all ironic? —Andrew
A: Your note made us smile gently. Yes, partially because we've been project-vomiting gratitude out of our heart-holes ever since we returned from our extended Eat, Pray, Love sabbatical. But also because we took your conclusions about our store as strong evidence that you've been drinking Magnificent Bastards in unrestrained fashion.
We suppose if you strapped our Adam Smith cashmere belts around your neck (pictured in Chocolate Sandwich Cookie), they might qualify as skinny ties. We don't advise that.
Finally, there are our actual ties. All of them are exactly 3 1/8 inches wide at their widest point. Perfect now, perfect forever. Only a Jezebel columnist determined to shift body size norms would think to call that skinny. Or possibly someone who has just enjoyed a half dozen or so MBs.
Also: We still don't like skinny ties. But we thought of a compassionate way to eradicate them from America. Stay tuned for more on this soon.
Some friends and I were drinking some Magnificent Bastards and talking football and, naturally, Shannon Sharpe's dress attire on CBS's pregame show came up. My buddies think he dresses like a clown. I think he dresses with balls and style. Real sharp, as it were. What does the MB say? —Evan
"Balls and Style." Sounds like a good name for a men's style site and corresponding e-commerce shop. Er, nevermind.
We can see where your buddies are coming from with the clown comments. Unfortunately, sometimes Sharpe wears wide, floppy, too-neatly-tied bow ties that definitely evoke thoughts of men in makeup who accessorize with squirting flower boutonnières. Take Saturday, for example (left).
But we agree with you, Evan. Sharpe is great at bold pattern matching and texture combinations. Everything fits perfectly. His lapels are just the right width and echo that of his ties. His knots are almost always appropriate for the collar shape. He often wears gingham and textured ties, both MB favorites (see Sunday; right).
And while we usually need to turn down the volume when he's making a point, he's a pretty good analyst, too.
Tie Promotion Update II
The updated contest is live. Answer a simple 5-question quiz and enter to win a free custom shirt from Deo Veritas.
Tie Promotion Update I
Whoops! We may have downed one too many Polar Vortexes while concocting our latest promotion involving ties and shirts. Our legal counsel has advised us that our original offer, as described, was "open to unkind interpretation" by various government agencies. So we're putting that promotion on ice and coming up with something new. Check back in later this week for a new contest where you'll have a chance to win a custom shirt from Deo Veritas.
Q: I think the Kakutani is calling my name. But I've got a problem. I like spread collars, and I know your stance on them. Is it possible you've made the Kakutani so magnificent it works with spread collars even if I'm not Adrian Brody or that dude in The Scream? —Alex
A: We want the world to wear our ties. In fact, we might even sell one to Donald Trump if he asked nicely. And given how acquainted you are with our back catalog, we'd like to do right by you and tell you, sure, go ahead and wear the Kakutani with a spread collar.
Unfortunately, we can't do that. Yes, it is such a good-looking tie that you and many others might be tempted to wear it with a spread collar just show off as much of its fabric as possible. Resist that urge!
Granted, this is not as clear-cut as a Müller-Lyer illusion, but look at these illustrations from Esquire. B's neck and face look thicker and wider than A's, and yet the neck and face (and tie) are exactly the same in each drawing. Only the collar in B is different.
Conclusion: Spread collars instantly fatten your face and neck. And we can't let you do that to yourself, even if it means missing out on a sale. We will not sell you a Kakutani if you're planning to wear it with a spread collar.
JFK was known for his sporty, casual look. And yet even he knew that when it comes to style, there is a time and place for everything. And that on Christmas morning, when you're under the tree with your loved ones, in the cozy and secure heart of your home, celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, the bonds of family, and the virtues of faith, love, compassion, and gratitude, it's time for a tie.
Last time we saw Philip Rivers in a bolo tie — with a button down, no less — his Chargers upset the Chiefs on the road. Last night he pulled out a turquoise arrowhead version and helped pull the upset of the Toner Cartridge Salesman-led Broncos in Denver.
It's Week 2 of Monday Morning Quarterback, a feature that combines our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Perhaps due to bad weather at many NFL stadiums, this week there was only bad quarterbacking behind the podium.
That collar is about to engulf Eli's face like a stunting defensive end, and the problem is magnified by the tiny, out-of-proportion knot that looks like it's suffering from a groin injury. While he shrares the Toner Cartridge Salesman look of his older brother, at least Peyton generally gets the proportions right.
Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating: 24.9
Four years as Tom Brady's backup in New England, and the man apparently only learned how to read coverages, not collars. Cassell's collar is so horizontal it has less of an angle than the earth's horizon. His jacket gape is big enough for Adrian Peterson to run through. And we fear some eight-year-old fan is searching for his prized beanie right now. For all this, Cassell is this week's winner of the Most Ridiculous Postgame Presser Outfit award.
After just two weeks doing Monday Morning Quaterback, we have our first record: Most Consecutive Weeks Wearing a Plaid Shirt That Looks Like It Came From Blouse Barn. If Philip Rivers' quarterbacking was this consistent, the Chargers could get into the playoffs.
It looks like Shaggy has added a razor to his post-game plan. We like his committment to mastering the fundamentals. Next step: Retaining the services of a tailor. That's the same ill-fitting jacket he had on last week, and he's getting the same bad results: a pronounced gape on his throwing shoulder. Once he masters that, we'll start working on his tie-reading skills.
In honor of Repeal Day, we opened a fresh bottle of Bulleit and starting drinking MBs. By the third round, we figured we should spread the Christmas cheer and have a contest. Here’s how it works.
Go to our Twitter feed — @magbas — and retweet our tweet about drinking MBs on Repeal Day.
Then fire off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your address, and one of our offshore customer service elves will send you one of our Made in USA Disposable Letterpress Beverage Shields. You’ll be automatically entered in a drawing for a free tie from our new shop.
The contest is in effect until 3PM, Friday December 6, Central Time. At that point, we’ll pick a winner from one of the qualifying entries, and one lucky winner will get his or her choice of tie.
Combining our love of chronic traumatic encephalopathy-inducing bloodsport (aka, the NFL) with our passion for style, we present the first in a regular series.
Each week we break down the postgame press conference film and pick the best and worst-performing quarterbacks from around the league. We take their actual Passer Rating, multiply it by the proprietary Magnificent Bastard Dresser Rating, to arrive at their Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating.
Total Magnificent Bastard Quarterback Rating: 134.6
NFL quarterback or professor at University of Phoenix (if they had professors)? Palmer is the MB Player of the Week thanks to his unstructured, heartily-lapeled corduroy blazer and studied artful dishevelment. This is how we dress.
We admire Fitzpatrick because he was doing the lumberjack, er, lumberback for years before the look was in vogue. And because he recorded the highest-ever Wonderlic score by a quarterback. Yet he shows the pitfalls involved in wearing a machine-washed fused-collar shirt, and his lapels need to hit the weight room.
Who put Shaggy in a suit? MB coaching tip: If you bear a striking resemblance to a 1970s cartoon character, avoid Peyton Manning's "Toner Cartridge Sales Rep" look and go for a post-game look with a little more grooviness, like this.
On Saturday Mark Zuckerberg gave each of his hoodies the day off and donned a suit and tie for his marriage to Priscilla Chan. Zuck impresses with a tie that echoes his jacket's lapel width, the tie's length is just about perfect (the tip nipping at his belt buckle), and he even wore actual shoes instead of the standard Adidas Adilettes (bottom).
But we're definitely not a fan of the wide spread/cutaway collar — a style that works only on Adrian Brody — and the mistake is compounded by pairing it with a four-in-hand knot when a Windsor is called for. Zuckerberg's loosened it up for this pic but when fully tied, a four-in-hand combined with a cutaway or wide spread can expose the part of the tie that's supposed to be under the collar, distracting from the beautiful asymmetry of the knot and, in general, looking like shit. Like this poor bastard on Style Forum.
Q: I am going to a summer wedding and want to wear my favorite blue seersucker pants and white shirt. What I'm not sure about is what style shoes should I wear and what color jacket would be best? Also should I wear a tie? If so what kind? —Sam
Ovadia & Sons, the Brooklyn-born twins cited as the Next Big Thing by every menswear blog this side of the Mississippi, were recently named one of "America's Next Great Designers" by Details magazine (December 2011/January 2012 issue).
When asked about a Trend That Needs to Go Away, Shimon Ovadia said, "Slim suit lapels and skinny ties. It's time for a change. Plus, you can't be a muscular guy wearing a super-slim tie."
We wholeheartedly agree, and are reminded of The Great Tie Width Debate about this time last year between Band of Outsiders' skinny tie purveyor Scott Sternberg and Tom Ford, with Ford saying, "There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket...I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."
The pendulum is finally swinging Ford's way. Don't be the last guy to buy a tie narrower than 3", or a blazer/suit with lapels inside that same width.
Q: What are your thoughts on a shirt and tie with no jacket? The internet style-forum consensus seems to be a resounding no, unless you work in a mail room or are a Jehovah's Witness; but it is still a look one sees all the time (not that that's necessarily an argument in its favor, of course). But if it is so wrong to wear a shirt and tie without a jacket, why do people take off the jacket? Does having the jacket nearby magically change the look of the outfit? If so, at what distance is that magical connection lost? The next desk over? A different floor? Do certain jackets maintain the connection over further distances from others? Thanks! —Ed
A: Ed, forget about the distance your jacket is from your body and focus instead on properly artfully disheveling your shirt and tie.
We agree with the hoi polloi that when you wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie, it looks like either a.) something is missing, or b.) something is missing and you're about to go preaching door-to-door.
So don't wear only a shirt buttoned to the top with buttoned cuffs and a snugly-tied tie. Undo the buttons and roll up the sleeves. Loosen the tie knot and turn it to a side. Does Paul Newman look concerned that he's missing something? Joe Paterno, on the other hand, is super pissed off he can't find his jacket.
Read just received a new shipment of nice-looking shirts (we've already ordered the Jake Madras), and at a $98 retail you're getting the style consulting for 52 bucks. If we didn't already strongly resemble the "After" shot — yes, we raided our own wardrobe for the shoot — we'd seriously consider this deal.
He put on his best ill-fitting President's suit. He knotted up his shiniest President's tie. And he still only got 2,293 votes in the Iowa straw poll. Sorry, Tim, you were born with a face made for overalls. (We should know. We're from rural Wisconsin.)
Q: Hi - my brother is one of the groomsmen in a wedding and they are all being told they are wearing tan linen suits, white shirts and some sort of colorful tie (Florida wedding). He knows how you stand on linen, but doesn't have much choice here and is wondering what kind of white shirt goes with a linen suit. Linen? Regular dress shirt? I have to admit, I have no idea. —Gabriela
A: Gabriela, definitely not a linen shirt. That's like the wedding equivalent of the Canadian tuxedo, aka denim on denim. And as everyone knows, you should only wear denim on denim if you're feeling lucky, punk.
What the wedding party needs is lightweight 100% cotton shirts with sewn collar and cuff interlinings, which will complement linen with their natural, artfully disheveled look. Dress shirts with fused interlinings are almost always too neat in our opinion, but they are an especially bad match with wrinkled linen suits, kind of like the shirt-suit equivalent of Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner.
We know you didn't ask about the ties, but if you have any pull with the groom please insist they absolutely not be silk. Again, too shiny/smooth of a contrast with the linen's matte/nubs. Go for linen or a linen-cotton blend.
Q: Just read your skinny tie entry and reasons for disliking. The list of people of legendary style status who favored skinny ties is endless. Fat ties are the choice of Vegas club doormen, the kind you can smell from 10 feet away and wear Affliction in their off time. The reasoning (more for your money) is beyond me, and goes against your own tastes in the few entries I've read - a pleat gives you more more material for your money, so does a tassel on a shoe, and nearly every bad thing about clothing is about addition. The guys on sportscenter and The Sopranos vs. Paul Weller, JFK, Miles Davis. You should really rethink this one. —Chuck
A: Loosen up your tie and relax, Chuck! At MB, we believe that giving our readers a good deal on a great tie calls for levity, not complete seriousness, and thus our joke about preferencing wider ties over skinny ones because you get "more for your money" was just that, a joke.
Rest assured that our often-expressed preference for wider ties has a sound aesthetic foundation. In short, we believe that one's tie width should echo the width of one's lapels, within 1/4". If you're like us and subscribe to Tom Ford's way of thinking that wider lapels "make men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful," it follows that one's ties should be equivalently wide.
As for pleats and tassels, you are absolutely correct, and if you ever catching us recommending them, even in jest, please reprimand us accordingly. There are some things that should never be joked about.
Q: We know the MB views linen suits as having too much dishevelment regardless of any artfulness. And this MB agrees. But now Indochino offers suits that are 55% linen and 45% cotton. Does this blend allow them to avoid the problems of shape retention and excessive wrinkling? Please advise. —James
Q: Does the warning against linen apply to shirts as well as to pants? —Jerry
A: Every year about this time we're asked whether there's any sort of special dispensation for wearing linen given our feature Linen: It Sucks. Not really.
Don't be seduced by models wearing perfectly puckered linen shirts. Linen shirts are made out of the same thing as linen pants: Linen. And thus they fall prey to the same problems, veering disastrously from artful dishevelment to plain dishevelment within minutes of wearing.
As for the suit, we've previously argued that whatever material linen is blended with, that material must retain at least a 51% ownership stake. The Indochino suit misses this requirement by 6 percent. While it may not wrinkle as fast as, say, 37-year-old Kate Moss, it will still wrinkle faster than you'd like, even if it never touches a cigarette.
Where is 50%+ linen OK? Whenever the article in question is not expected to sheathe entire limbs — scarves, pocket squares, dinner party napkins, or ties like this black and almost-white gingham from Nashville, TN tiemaker Otis James are all acceptable.
Q: Bow Ties? Bastardly or schmuck? Thanks fellas. —Fidel
A: In their February, 2008 issue, GQ declared bow ties back, and we declared them MB-appropriate only for summer weddings (in madras) and black tie.
More than three years later, GQ's recommendation has finally been adopted by top-rated NFL prospects, as two of the top 13 picks wore bow ties on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall in what we believe to be the first-ever bow tie sightings at an NFL draft. #6 pick Julio Jones wore one that looked like a silver version of a Chippendale's pre-tied (top), and #13 pick Nick Fairley wore a paisley BT that, while clearly hand-tied, was still far too neat (middle).
Of all men's accessories, it's the bow tie that demands strictest adherence to the MB principle of artful dishevelment. Perfect bilateral symmetry should be reserved for breasts and butterflies.
To properly tie a bow tie, first drink three martinis very quickly. Then, close your eyes and follow the instructions from the guide below. When you're finished, your tie should be noticeably askew, with uneven ends and at least one of the rear loops exposed, as Winston Churchill (215 lbs., 6.5 second 40, never drafted) demonstrates (bottom).
If you do have an event that calls for a bow tie, one of our grandfathers gave us this "how to tie a bow tie" guide that came in handy as young lads when we wanted to learn how to do it.
Every morning, we eat a plate of bacon that looks more youthful and dewy than Donald Trump's face. Because Trump has presidential aspirations and America rarely elects geezers, Trump appears to be taking his habit of wearing excessively long ties to even more comical lengths than usual. At a recent Tea Party rally in Florida, the Donald was sporting a tie that was long enough to tickle his nads — no wonder he's making that bellowing O-face while those in attendance cower behind a wall of ferns.
While we like the width of Trump's neckwear, the length is all out of proportion. At most, a tie should kiss the top of your pants — and it should only kiss the top of your pants in the way you kiss your best friend's wife — with absolute restraint. Let it dangle any lower, and you begin to look like a kid trying on his father's suit. Which, we assume, is the effect Trump is after — he's trying desperately to look boyish, to distract people from the fact that even though he's just 64 years old, his face now exhibits the stunning orange hue and petrified grandeur of a slab of ancient Moab slickrock. Alas, the average American voter is more likely to mountain-bike him than elect him, and not even a 70-inch tie is going to change that.
If you've been reading Magnificent Bastard for a while, then you know we don't like skinny ties. Mostly, this is for aesthetic reasons — we always think guys in skinny ties look like unsuccessful suicides who just decided to go on with their day — but there's an economic factor at play too. Skinny ties are skinnier than good-looking, fully nourished ties, and yet they don't cost any less. This sort of thing happens in grocery aisles all the time. One day your favorite cheap Jamaican lager comes in 12 ounce bottles, the next it's down to 11.2 ounces, but the price doesn't change.
In the grocery store world, marketers typically try to keep such penny-pinching under wraps. In the apparel world, it's presented as fashion! We think this charade has gone on too long. We think that you, the tie-buyers of the world, deserve some redress. So we've persuaded one of our favorite tie-makers, Mountain & Sackett, to offer a special 16-day promotion. Now until April 30, you can get any tie it offers* for 25 percent off — including the ones that are already on sale — with discount code MB25. For S/S they've got a nice assortment of silk knits (just $44.62 after discount), and for F/W — it will be here soon — we own the Cedar wool herringbone and the Walker silk/wool in black. Handmade in NYC from fine English fabrics, and a healthy 3-plus inches wide, they're both only $55.50 with the MB25 discount. Why spend twice as much on a tie half as wide? Get them while they last!
Q: Hey I was wondering what your opinion of Hart Schaffner Marx is? I don't see any reviews of them on your website! I know they own a lot of other brands, but is their flagship brand quality? I've recently seen a lot of their suits and ties on sale at deep discount and was wondering if its worth buying. -Rob
A: Rob, you're seeing Hart Schaffner Marx suits and ties on deep discount because the brand's leading model, President Barack Obama, has just a 47% approval rating. That, and fewer and fewer people who aren't either running America or dull but important Fortune 500 companies wear worsted wool suits with jackets running past the crotch, pleated trousers, and shiny silk power ties anymore.
Don't get us wrong. We give thanks to HSM every time we pee after drinking a few too many MBs -- the company was the first to introduce zippers to men's pants in 1936. And HSM suits clearly exhibit the sort of well-made craftsmanship that can only come from Midwestern fingers made strong and beefy from a livable union wage. But it's just not a look we'd ever choose for ourselves, even if that means we'll never be able to obtain the Democratic nomination or, say, occupy the top box in the org chart at ConocoPhillips.
Chicago-area car salesman John Stone was fired yesterday for wearing a Packers tie the day after the Bears lost the NFC Championship game to Green Bay.
As Packer fans too, we understand his urge to celebrate, but ultimately we have to question his judgement. Not because he said "no" five times when his boss, who has some kind of advertising deal with the Bears, asked him to remove the off-message neckwear, but rather because he thinks his "nice, smart tie matched [his] clothes." That diamond-shaped tie with a gingham shirt is geometrically incongruent! However, we do applaud Stone for the nicely dimpled four-in-hand knot, and point collar which appears to be sewn (vs. fused).
Q: Hate to drag this up yet again, but all the ties you recommended in your recent post, "matchy-matchy," are 3" width. So now I'm curious, when you urge everyone to abandon skinny ties and go wide, what width do you consider "skinny," and is it possible, in your view, to go too wide? I also ask because, trends be damned, I think 3"ish is ideal, but at my conservative job, my 3" ties are generally regarded as "skinny". --J. Nelson
A: A width of three inches is our starting point. If it's narrower than that, we throw it back and cast again. As for maximum width, it's all about proportion: You want a tie
that echoes the width of your jacket's lapels. The wider your lapel, the wider tie you need -- and these days, like Jessica Simpson, lapels are widening. But if you ever need a tie wider than 3.75 inches, then it's time to put your lapels on a diet.
Who's on our side in the tie width debate? In the 2010 GQ Style Manual, designers Scott Sternberg (Band of Outsiders) and Tom Ford (Tom Ford) offer their thoughts:
SCOTT STERNBERG: "A skinnier tie just feels of-the-moment right now....And there's less material, so there's less potential for a color or pattern to feel garish or offensive."
TOM FORD: "There is something a bit meager and uptight about a skinny tie and jacket...I think that accentuating the natural V of a man's body makes men look more masculine, less boyish, and in general more powerful."
AT LEFT: Both designers put their theories into practice. Ford looks classically masculine. Sternberg radiates of-the-moment inoffensiveness. The choice is yours to make.
Q: I have interviews coming up with some consulting firms which, oddly enough, identify strongly with their corporate colors. I'm thinking of doing some tie/firm color matching, but will it come off as clever and detailed, or is it a one way ticket to toolbagville? --Pete
A: Pete, this is a little like interviewing for a job at McDonald's wearing the tie worn by The Hamburglar. Don't do it. TTH and more than a little weird. Instead, invest in something you would want to wear after you land the job. Minneapolis-based Pierrepont Hicks makes great ties as does long-time MB favorite Mountain and Sackett. Another good find is Nashville-based Otis James, a cool dude who will make you a custom cashmere tie for $165. His woven linen 00502xx has been spectacular.
(While we don't endorse Hamburglar's tie, we do endorse its width and the artfully dishevelled way he leaves the narrow end longer than the wide end.)
Q: I know you hate the skinny tie, but you can't deny that it's still in fashion (you said way back in 2008 that it was dying). Prejudices aside, what type of collar do you think goes best with the skinny tie? I like the windsor but it might be too eccentric. The spread collar might be good, or it might just depend on the collar size as a whole. I would hope not to get a sarcastic, snide response, but I might not be so lucky with this specific question. --Sam
A: Sam, if you're looking for polite and cordial answers to style questions, you've come to the wrong place. Check askandyaboutclothes.com. He is a nice guy.
Anyhow, yes, we can deny the skinny tie is still in fashion. They're featured at EXPRESS, which is a clear indication of this look's location on the trend curve. If you still insist, a Windsor/spread collar only works for a Windsor knot, which would look completely ridiculous when tied with a skinny tie. For the EXPRESS look -- "ultra-modern" and "fresh and fearless" -- go with a traditional point collar and four-in-hand knot.
Q: What color tie would I wear with a cherry red shirt, specifically the Alexander West cherry discreet? Color matching is not my forte, and I imagine that a badly chosen tie would ruin the shirt. Thanks. --Andrew
A: Andrew, that shirt is talking pretty loudly, so everything else should be quiet, including the tie. Since it's F/W we'd like to see this matched with something brown or gray and nubby, which is where Mountain and Sackett comes in. While tiemaker Alexander Olch gets all the publicity (rightfully so) in GQ, DETAILS, and even in the December issue of women's mag Lucky, less-well-known brothers Bill and John Mountain make equivalent ties at about half the price. If you still prefer them a little narrower, try the 2 3/4" brown flannel Stanton ($59.50) or gray flannel Kenmare ($74.00). Our pick with that shirt is the 3 1/4" Cedar Herringbone ($74.00).
Ed. note: If you're looking for a holiday tie, M&S's 3 1/2" Kerr Tartan goes with nearly everything and draws loads of compliments.
Not a tip, but I need to point out where you have made an error. GQ has certainly not given up on skinny ties. (See previous post in question.) The tie Ryan Reynolds is wearing is probably 2.75 inches wide, which is about what Gitman Bros runs. If you are still not sure, just compare it to the width of his wrist right on top of it. They are the same. My wrist is 2.5 inches wide. Still don't believe me? Look at the Michael Kenneth Williams spread later. The only tie over 3" is the Tom Ford. Now, I get that you like wider ties, but you have been calling the peak of the thin tie trend for two years. It is starting to feel like wishful bastardly thinking. --Miller
We're glad you brought up Tom Ford, though, because he's the canary in the lapel and tie-width coal mine. For F/W 2010 he's widening pretty significantly (top) and everyone else will follow.
Meanwhile, to switch the metaphor from mining to parade-going, EXPRESS is the equivalent of the dudes at the end sweeping up the elephant shit, and from their advertisement from the same GQ issue, they're still in the 1.5" - 2.5" range (bottom).
Q: What's your take on collar bars (aka collar pins) as a bastardly accessory? A vintage touch to a magnificent ensemble, unecessarily dressy for everyday at the office, or just TTH? I mean, it's hard to deny the "Mayhem" guy from recent Allstate commercials is a bastard and a half, and wears a tie bar in every ad. --Nate
A: Based on the number of marriage proposals on YouTube, Allstate has an even bigger hit on their hands with Mayhem than Dos Equis had with The Most Interesting Man in the World.
There is a lot to like here: the shirt collar/tie knot combination, the real 5 o' clock shadow, the way he pulls off a receeding hairline, and of course that sinister grin. And the wink, too. It's no wonder women are crazy for this guy.
The only knock is the personalized license plate (pictured), which is the toolbag auto's de facto standard. As for the collar bar, it's a little Mad Men-y and hence played out, but if you're otherwise as artfully disheveled and bruised and cut up as Mayhem, it works to balance out the look.
Literally a couple of years after skinny ties were post-peak, GQ covers still featured them, as recently as August with funnymen Zach Galifianakis and Paul Rudd both in ties in sub-3" widths. For September LeBron James was in a Ralph Lauren Purple Label cashmere tie that's pushing 4" at its widest point, and the newly released October issue has Ryan Reynolds in a Gitman Bros. herringbone that looks to be about 3 3/8".
Like Lindsay Lohan, who graced the cover of the August German GQ, we also prefer our ties with a little meat on their bones. Anything in the 3" to 3 1/2" range works for fall 2010.
Federal prosecutors were only able to convict former Illinois governer and First Toolbag Rod Blagojevich of a single count of lying to the FBI, but more significantly, they did unearth receipts showing a 7-year, $400,000 clothing budget for he and his wife at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. (If this is ringing a bell somewhere, it definitely should.)
Blago also spent heavily at custom suitmaker Tom James Company and had custom dress shirts made by Geneva Custom Shirts. Yet, in spite of all the expense and bespoke tailoring, he failed to grasp even the most basic style truth: don't combine spread collars with four-in-hand knots.
SEE ALSO: Magnificent Bastard's Custom Shirt Reviews. (Unfortunately Geneva Custom Shirts was not one of the participants.
Q: What are your thoughts on tie clips? I've noticed some articles on ties and suits and thought maybe I skimmed over something on tie clips. I have a wedding coming up and will be sporting a 2 button, single vented, dark grey, slim fitting suit with white/charcoal edged cotton pocket square, purple checked shirt and a solid lavender tie. Will a well placed silver tie clip make the outfit complete? --Mike (MB in training)
Besides strongly recommending a plain white pocket square, we'd pass on the tie clip. Like fused collars, collar stays, creased pants, starch, and excessive hair gelling, tie clips contribute to a too neat, too calculated, too TTH look. We call for freedom for ties! To dangle asymmetrically, to catch a little gust of wind, to do their part contributing to the aesthetic goal of artful dishevelment.
Q: This J. Crew cotton suit.
Can I wear that with a blue gingham shirt, or are the subtle stripes going to give me problems? Also, brown loafers and a gray flannel tie. --Jason
A: Yes you can. Just make sure the check on the gingham is 3/16" at an absolute minumum, and even a little bigger would be better to further quiet the suit's stripes. The shirt is the star of this show. Save the flannel tie for pairing with a fine-whale corduroy suit this fall. Instead try a gray knit or linen-cotton blend; either will provide the texture you're looking for.
Q: I've got a school reunion this coming weekend. +25 years on. I'm not holding out any hope of this being any good at all but what should I wear? Should I go '80s ironic with the old school tie or just go MB? --Matt
A: Wait, going MB is your backup plan to wearing a tie that you've been mothballing since the Reagan administration? Unless your real name is Angus Young, this makes no sense whatsoever. Vintage neckwear or not, you and your classmates will all start to behave exactly like your old school selves within fifteen minutes anyway -- so you might as well look like an accomplished adult for at least fifteen minutes, right?
Q: How low should I tie my tie? My roommate says above the belt, I say the tip should be between the top and bottom of the belt. Back me up, and he's buying all of us beer next time you're on the East Coast. --Mike
A: This is definitely unconventional wisdom and somewhat difficult to pull off, but we agree with your roommate. So does one of our biggest influences, Yves Saint Laurent. In fact, we've been known to let the narrow end meet (and even exceed!) the length of the wide end with excellent results. But you need to be fairly tall and in shape or you'll end up looking like hamburger-loving J. Wellington Wimpy.
Q: Around a month ago I watched GQ Rules: How to dress better in 15 days. What caught my attention was Jim Moore's tie and collar buttons.
Is it MB to tie your tie a bit loose just like Jim Moore? Also, I know you are not supposed to wear a tie with a shirt with button collars. What do you guys think? I uploaded a picture here http://i34.tinypic.com/4h3w3m.jpg of Jim Moore just in case you guys haven't watched it yet. --Franco
A: First, it's certainly OK to wear a tie with a button-down collar. Second, this is Jim Moore's version of artful dishevelment and it's definitely endorsable (though the tie width and knot size is not). Finally, one thing we don't get about Jim Moore's look is the eyewear. We're pretty sure he got those at our high school algebra teacher's garage sale.
Q: So, you're wearing the dangly tie, you've suddenly got a lot of bending over to do - potential interference with others involved... What is your position on tie-tucking? In the pocket? Into the shirt a couple of buttons down? Not at all?! --Mark
A: Either you're the most formal heart surgeon in the world (in which case we encourage you to opt for a more casual look that keeps your patients' aortas clear of highly infectious repp ties). Or you're nailing a co-worker, in which case we encourage you to tuck your tie in between two shirt buttons. You don't want to lose a nooner who doesn't even ask you to take your shirt off to a long-term disability claim.
Q: My husband is walking his sister down the aisle and the groom/groomsmen are wearing blackwatch plaid kilts. Not interested in the kilt thing, but what about a blackwatch plaid necktie with his black suit? Thanks. --Nicole
A: Nicole, your instincts are strong. That's the perfect nod to a tradition that's best left to real Scots.
DETAILS' Courtney Colavita says the fat Windsor is "guaranteed to make you look like a dick," and we couldn't agree more. Just have a look at Jeremy Piven (off the set of Entourage): big tie knot, big watch ... he's clearly overcompensating for something that is quite small, other than his 5' 6" stature.
* It's blue. Like usual. Barack wears the red one. Thems the rules. * Symmetrical. The bad news: demonstrates a lack of creativity. The good news: his Senate desk is probably very clean. * Small knot. You know what they say about guys with small tie knots? Exactly. That, and a knot this small is only achieved with a very cheap silk version. In other words, likely fiscally responsible.
Advertising Agesays AMC's hit show Mad Men has brought back the skinny tie and slim suits. Hello? We've been suffering through this thing for going on three years already. Consider it a trend you can safely avoid, now more than ever.
Q: I am saddened to think that I will see two great things become extinct in my lifetime: the internal combustion engine and neckties. Richard Whitbread, marketing manager of Tie Rack, said: "Since the doom and gloom (bad economy) set in, sales of ties have picked up. We have seen a 10 percent increase in sales over the last quarter. When people start to be more concerned about their jobs, they start to smarten up. Also a lot of people are looking for jobs at the moment." What he forgets to mention is that necktie sales are 15% of what they were 15 years ago. That's such a huge decline, it leads me to believe that hasty Father's Day gifts and funerals make up the bulk of necktie purchases. In your opinion. will neckties go the way of knickers? --Eric
A: We'd expect the increase in tie sales to continue. Also incoming for Fall 2008: flannel suits, long topcoats, hats of all shapes and sizes, and general black-and-whiteness.
Q: I know that you have long heralded the death of skinny ties, and I mostly agree. However, a skinny (not too skinny, though) tie can be worn well in some situations. I am very young (18), very tall (6'4") and thin. Sometimes I like to wear a black suit with slim lapels and a white shirt and top it off with a slim black tie. Given my circumstances, is this really that bad? Can one not pull off the skinny tie with the right body and suit? Thanks. --Bo
A: Waiter! Another round of Dewar's. Rocks.
Bo, leave the skinny (even not too skinny) ties to guys like Zac Efron, who use them to appear 5'3" instead of 5'1". Use your God-given stature to your advantage, and try a play on scale, with a short, wide tie ... and a different colored suit.
In their most recent issue, men's mag Details declares "Enough With the Skinny Ties." Men's site magnificentbastard.com called this in 2007. Welcome aboard Details! Now we'll patiently wait for GQ to finally get with it.
George Clooney at the Los Angeles premiere of Leatherheads (opening today), not praying to the tired "skinny" god of GQ and Band of Outsiders, but, as you might expect from Mr. Clooney, doing his own thing. How refreshing, and MB.
Q: Just a quick question regarding ties. I have read a couple of times that "skinny" is out, but what I want to know is what knot is the best. I was taught the 4-in-hand and have used that through out my business career but the popular one is the Windsor. Once tied can you really tell the difference? —Paul
A: Obi-Wan has taught you well, but you are not a Jedi MB yet.
In honor of Presidents' Day, surely you can tell the difference between the knot on the un-stylish Ronald Reagan (Windsor) and the stylish George Bush 41 (four-in-hand).
We strongly prefer the four-in-hand to the Windsor, for at least four reasons:
1. Windsor symmetrical. Violates the MB principle of artful dishevelment. 2. Windsor requires extra steps. Violates the universal rule of Occam's Razor. 3. Windsor best on spread collar shirts. And you know how we feel about spread collar shirts. 4. Windsor (combined with spread collar) shortens, flattens an MB's neck. MBs prefer their necks lengthened and thinned.
Q: Who can really pull off the bow tie these days? Can I? —KS
A: Funny you should ask, because in their February 2008 issue GQ declares bow ties back, and recommends their readers buy them from -- where else? -- Band of Outsiders. (GQ publisher Condé Nast must have a financial stake in Band of
Outsiders for how often they pimp their stuff.)
Anyhow, we think this is bad advice. With a bow tie, you've got a much higher probability looking like a prick, dweeb, nerd, or clown (you pick which is which) than you do looking like 007.
We suggest reserving bow ties for two occasions:
1. Summer weddings (preferably in madras). 2. Black tie.
And one other thing: Never tie it symmetrically, even for black tie. It must be askew in order to satisfy the MB principle of artful dishevelment.
Q: Am I a dork because I really want to start wearing an ascot? I'd like to think it would make this bastard even more magnificent. —MJ
A: MJ, this is like being at the 2008 Summer Olympics, jumping off the springboard and trying a reverse 2½ somersault pike. With such a high DD (degree of difficulty), yes you might nail it (like Fred from Scooby Doo), but you're more likely to hit your head and require stitches (like Danny Noonan in Caddyshack).
Ascots are one of those things where the following MB rule is applied: If you have to ask, forget about it.
For a while we've beensaying skinny -- especially skinny ties -- is over. Last night at the Critics' Choice Awards, George Clooney not only dealt skinny a death blow, he signaled the welcome return of wide.
Just because GQ Editor-in-Chief Tim Nelson still wears skinny ties from Band of Outsiders, it doesn't mean it's OK to dress Josh Brolin up in one and have his readers think it's still cool. LY, baby; or, more precisely, 2006.
It took several hours of Google searches, but we've unearthed a domestic neckwear manufacturer with a great story and even better ties. Handmade in Manhattan since 1957, Mountain and Sackett is currently making the best wool ties we've seen, and they're just $74. Plus, now that "skinny" (jeans, ties, lapels, wallets) is as dead as a damn doornail, their bold 3 3/4" width adds additional style points.
3 shots rye whiskey (or to taste)
1 sugar cube
quarter shot of Absinthe
Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and place in the bottom of a highball glass. Mash with the back of a spoon (or muddler, which we hope has not been used to make a Mojito), add the rye whiskey and fill the glass with ice. Stir for about 30 seconds and then strain into another lowball glass that has been rinsed with Absinthe and filled about halfway with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.