The wonderful thing about publishing a blog is the never ending series of questions you receive from curious sartorialists about the peculiarities of your dress. “Do you wear velvet jackets in summertime?” they inquire “Would you recommend wearing linen with denim then?” they fret; all good mannered, evidently interested commentators who require answers and explanations. Most of the time, I am happy to supply a line or two as a reply but sometimes I feel there is such a torrent of feeling, such a strength of opinion in me yearning to break free that the constriction of a comment form makes it seem too inadequate a vessel for the excretion of my own thoughts.
I was recently asked by a visitor whether my tie was too long and also whether it was my personal preference to show “that amount of cuff.” Never one to let detail escape me, I had not been of the opinion that I was dangling too much tie or revealing too much cuff, however it was an interesting suggestion which reminded me that such sartorial indoctrination, while only occasionally observed by myself, was practically of biblical importance to others; “And Lo! There came unto Earth a man – and that man did prescribe that cuffs should not be more than an inch below that of one’s jacket and that his tie be no more than 1 inch over his trouser waist.” Of course, there was no such man. However, you could credit one man with the guidelines on the former; Beau Brummell.
Yes even he, the Dandy of Dandies, the godfather of men’s style – or as near to God as Savile Row would have him – dictated cuff length at a time when cuffs were frilly, lacy, decorative and certainly not to be hidden. His white cuffs were barely an inch below his tailcoat’s sleeve which is a measurement comparable to today’s Savilian dictum. His rule was restraint; the paradox of not being worthy of gawping at making one worthy of attention. If a man looks for restraint, following this ideal is probably a good idea. If a man seeks, or allows himself, to display a little more, provided that the top of the cuff remains unseen, I will not seek to censor him. In other words, yes – it is simply a matter of personal taste.
As to the tie, we cannot credit the Beau with any time-resistant foresight on the tastefulness of length. However, the length of a man’s tie does suggest either a carefulness or a carelessness in his character which may or may not be a fair reflection. I wear my ties so that a little overlaps my trousers. I do not like to finish the tie above the trousers but I am fond of tucking it in; mathematically, this does not make sense as a tie finishing above the trousers appears as long as a tie that is tucked in. However, there is still ‘more tie’ – the fact that it is tucked in is immaterial.
Clearly a tie that is comically long, or for that matter comically short, will not be within the bounds of taste; if the overlap is much more than the lower ‘pyramid’ of the tie, it will look absurd.