My first silk tie was an old navy and burgundy printed polka dot tie that my father used to wear. He had revolutionised his tie wardrobe as his neckwear aesthetic had altered and I was the lucky recipient of his cast offs. I was very young at the time, only accustomed to the indescribably nasty polyester things that I wore as part of my uniform and consequently rather sceptical about the attractions of neckwear. Needless to say, that viewpoint has changed. I am now, like my father, an avid collector of silk neckties and possess an indulgent selection of printed and woven ties in a rainbow of colours and patterns.
Slightly smaller, though growing in number, is my collection of non-silk ties. Texture has always fascinated me and I have always liked to break from the norm a little. Wool and cotton ties add an unexpected restraint to shirt and tie ensembles and I like to pair them with extravagant silk pocket squares for texture balance. I have bought a decent cross-seasonal selection in these fabrics but there was always one tie that evaded discovery; a tie that completed the collection as it completed a hunting outfit or an ensemble for the races: the tweed tie.
The tweed tie is a thick, woollen adornment that appears to offend the regulation purpose of ties; as a harsh wool, it is the very opposite to a silk. Slipping a silk through the fingers is a pleasure. Once the knot is secured, it shines in the light and contrasts wonderfully with a matte, woollen suit and linen pocket square. The brown or green tweed tie also needs a contrast and if you should be so fortunate as to possess a good number of silk paisley squares, you will find this, in addition to a sky blue shirt, to be the most appropriate foil.
The brown tweed tie is not really a metropolitan tie; its sack-like harshness and natural colouring jars with the steely tones and glittering towers of the city. Though it matches a tweed ensemble amiably, it looks best when contrasted with a navy flannel blazer – beckoning a weekend trip to a bucolic brasserie – and though very smart with a blue shirt, is notably enhanced by a light pink. For the town, a grey tweed tie is perfect when worn with a crisp white or blue shirt and a mid-blue or navy suit. A country outfit, in tones of green and brown, can often be a challenge for smart, town-based gentleman, not least because they cannot fathom how a townie tie is appropriate for a shooting weekend.
The man not looking to make too much of a plus-four powered splash will probably prefer to steer clear of a standout purple paisley or burgundy country-theme silk; the tweed tie offers a stand-in-the-shadow-of-the-tree subtlety, with a reassuringly thick and cosy construction that does not attract attention.
I myself purchased an English wool tweed tie from H&M recently which I will seek to deploy on the rare occasions I actually leave London. As a point of experience, those in favour of a narrower four-in-hand knot should avoid cutaway collars as the thickness of the tie precludes pushing it up into the collar.