Roughly three years ago, the suit made its triumphant return through tailoring 2.0, and now, it’s the necktie’s turn. Most of us can agree that this often-formal accessory has faded in visibility over the past three decades.
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Casual Fridays became smart-casual all the time even before the pandemic, and as we frequently see on television, men don’t always need a necktie to look sharp.
But, just as we’re seeing wider cuts, double breasts, and a whole rainbow of hues, neckties are gradually returning as more of a style accessory rather than a social necessity.
The History of Neckties
Neckties, predictably, have a military story. This one begins in 17th century Croatia, where mercenaries tended to sport a tie eventually called a “cravat.”
By the 20th century, the suit-all-day dress code for men regardless of social class elevated the necktie, turning it into a sign of respectability. Wear also separated white-collar office workers from those with a manual labor job.
Similar to the fedora’s style trajectory, necktie wear became less and less frequent starting in the 1960s due to anti-establishment attitudes questioning decades of social norms. This decade also saw polo and Cuban collar shirts become more commonplace.
However, a surge in the 1980s resulted in a wider, more maximal design reflective of the period’s Wall Street-esque padded shoulders and pleated pants.
That same decade, on the other hand, proposed neckties as a fashion accessory, albeit with a thinner, often patterned appearance paired with a louder suit. This encapsulated New Wave and post-punk style then and, through similar aesthetic goals, rode this wave again in the mid- to late-2000s.
Still, as a dress and formal cornerstone, the tie ultimately saw its twilight with the pervasiveness of business casual that kicked into full gear in the ‘90s. As well, fish shapes and silly patterns mapped out a direct route to dad fashion that no self-respecting youth wanted to touch.
Since then, looser dress codes and more amorphous style rules have caused it to teeter on the precipice of obsolescence.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been called the death of the necktie, along with the suit. But, just as we’re seeing tailoring take influence from ‘90s skate silhouettes, ties have ridden its coattails as a statement accessory for a dapper, more adventurous dresser.
Neckties in the 2020s
Getting past middle-management assumptions is, perhaps, the necktie’s biggest hurdle. Plus, we tend to associate them with job interviews and funerals.
Even weddings these days don’t always call for one, and many, rather, opt to shake it up with a bowtie.
Still, the necktie’s return is less out of a heritage place as many assume and more out of repurposing tradition:
- When it’s not required, you can have fun: Smart-casual overtaking the finance industry resulted in more men seeing the necktie as less of a dress-code necessity and more of a medium for experimenting with materials, colors, and patterns. Skinny to kipper ties, it tends to enhance the vibe of whatever suit you’ve selected.
- More experimentation: The suit silhouette has been retooled in more recent seasons, and the necktie has fallen within this path. As suit jackets become wider cut and more cropped, ties are starting to add a graphic element, or look like a structured neckerchief.
- Retro appeal: Due to past style sensibilities, neckties now come with retro baggage, whether that’s specifically preppy, square, groovy, or kind of androgynous.
- A wide, defined collar calls for a strong tie: Back to the subject of suiting, silhouettes now tend to feature sharper, wider shoulders and stronger, more angular collars. Neckties match this maximalism while also softening it to a degree.
Think beyond the office. Whether you’re experimenting with textures or want to go head-first into tailoring 2.0, try out the following:
Pure silk with a jacquard weave and contrasting elements makes us think of the ‘90s. Yet, the details here rival whatever’s on your pocket square or shirt.
We see New Wave band meets cottagecore, thanks to the multi-colored floral pattern and skinnier cut. Beyond appearances, this necktie was crafted with an older Neapolitan seven-fold technique, resulting in seamless, liner-free construction.
Take a closer look. A mixture of Pegasus imagery and crest-like shields subtly nods to Bulgari’s Roman heritage. Saglione-printed silk is crafted with a seven-fold technique for a more streamlined, elegant appearance.
This necktie toes the line between youthful exuberance and the expected maturity of adulthood. 100% silk construction looks like it displays a tonal blue geometric pattern until you get a little closer and see a mixture of paper airplanes and retro cartoon jets.
Take a new approach to color-blocking with this diagonally striped tie featuring cobalt and navy blue alongside khaki. Created through a partnership with Stephen Walters Mill, curtain-back construction uses a blend of silk and cotton for a sturdy yet polished appearance.
Just like your luggage or belt, this jacquard woven silk tie plays up Gucci’s heritage with an all-over double-G pattern in tonal blue hues.
Take your accessories in a trippy direction. 100% silk with a paisley print swirls in yellow, green, purple, orange, and white to stand out with a vintage-inspired design that’s ready for a wide-collar shirt.
What appears as a solid, shimmering lavender shade displays a subtle herringbone print up close for a secondary textural element.
Ermenegildo Zegna has been upping its suit game, from modern silhouettes to that Fear of God collaboration. This jacquard paisley tie aligns with that vision, offering a trippy yet darker and more versatile interpretation.
Brown-on-black houndstooth exudes heritage menswear sensibilities. Pair this jacquard silk tie with a matching black velvet blazer for variation in material and pattern.