The Golfer

Style Issue 2018

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P opular wisdom contends that if you want to know if a man is well dressed, simply look down. Well cared for and shined shoes are indeed the hallmark of style, but these days a man's necktie is more commonly regarded as the ultimate indicator of his character. The necktie as we know it descended from the "focalis" worn by the Roman Legionnaires dating back to the first century. This neckwear precursor was worn by the Roman soldiers as a way of protecting their throats from the cold. Much later, this purely functional neckcloth evolved into what was called a "neckerchief." Usually made of linen or silk, the cloth was wrapped around the neck in a way that was just so… Fast forward to the 19th century. Every school, sporting team, club and regiment in England designed its own distinctive neckwear pattern— usually a coat of arms motif, an insignia or a combination of colored stripes. By definition, a club tie is made of silk and features the woven or printed emblem of a club or school—military or otherwise. The pattern, whether a shield, coat of arms, insignia or symbol, is always repeated over the entire length of silk. I n England, most of the regimental and club neckwear designs are an integral part of its fashion history. The dapper Duke of Windsor, just after World War I, popularized the maroon and navy stripes of the Brigade of Guards, favoring it over all the ties in his substantial neckwear wardrobe. Since anything the dapper Duke wore would spawn legions of imitators, he also must be held responsible for eroding the hegemony of the striped repp tie. Elsewhere in England, members of the Garrick club are still distinguishable by their salmon and cucumber striped neckwear, rare as are these color combinations. Today, the venerable house of Lewin & Sons in London, founded by Thomas Lewin in 1888, is home to the most extensive assortment of handsewn club motif neckties anywhere in the world, with the firm's design archives dating back to 1913. These vintage patterns are extremely rare and are avidly sought after by clothing historians who collect such things. Lewin & Sons has the curious habit of keeping most of the authentic vintage club design that they manufacture stashed in the basement. The rest are displayed throughout their small shop, neatly arranged between their dress shirt assortments. S tateside, traditional neckwear houses such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Robert Talbot and J.S. Blank still turn out terrific looking woven club neckwear, and never compromise on quality. While the club tie most assuredly remains a staple of proper gentlemen's dress, its exclusive fraternal associations with the military, sporting clubs and private universities have quietly been disappearing, even in England. Yet it is characteristic of men's fashion that every trend toward excess in turn originates a reactionary move back to classicism and tradition. So we see a return to simple, elegant designs in neckwear such as satins and grenadines, understated dots, small geometrics, woven checks and, yes, an impressive array of new regimental stripes and club designs. S imply stated, the best possible club tie—or any type of neckwear for that matter—is one that is made by hand. They are easily recognized by the single slip stitch or length of silk thread dangling under the fold behind the wide end of the tie. This is the telltale sign that the tie fabric has been hand sewn to the interlining. The construction gives the tie more resiliency and enables it to knot (and unknot) with greater ease. Better neckwear is also hand-pressed with the seam, so that the edges are softly rolled rather than overly creased as with machine-made ties. Every man should be able to expertly tie his own tie, even if his tie knotting knowledge only consists of a basic four-in-hand, and perhaps the popular Windsor knot for wider spread collars. Remember the prophetic admonition of Oscar Wilde: "A well- tied tie is a man's first serious step in life." "By definition, a club tie is made of silk and features the woven or printed emblem of a club or school—military or otherwise—with the pattern , whether a shield or insignia , always repeated over the entire length of silk."

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