Accessory Trend: Men’s Neck Ties

Despite the recent snow flurries inundating our humble nation, spring is just around the corner so it will soon be time to pack away the heavy winter scarves and chunky knit snoods. But fear not; for those of you out there who cannot live without some sort of neck adornment all year round, the catwalk shows for spring/summer 2012 across the world contained a saviour – the return of the neck tie. And now the penchant for wearing a piece of silk around your neck in a nonchalant rather than tight, preppy manner has also filtered down onto the British high street.

To clarify, when I say ‘neck ties’ I am not talking about the traditional, tightly-knotted office tie which probably serves as a constant reminder of the 9 to 5 working week and putting your nose to the grindstone. No, no – the most current neck adornment to take SS12 by storm is defined by Esquire magazine as: ‘a narrow strip of material worn around the neck and knotted at the throat.’ Think neckerchief-style for an urban dandy look rather than corporate officewear.

The timing for the return of this type of neckwear couldn’t be more apt. We have recently seen a resurgence of trends with a nod to the 60s and 70s – and the neck tie fits right into this mould. The SS12 designer shows also demonstrated that this spring, pattern is going to have a huge influence on men’s fashion. We have already seen that this preference for pattern has filtered down to the high street, with brands such as Topman, River Island and Zara featuring heavily patterned pieces in their respective lookbooks and ad campaigns.

Traditionally, neck ties are patterned – often with paisley or geometric prints – and this offers men a fantastic way of injecting a subtle sense of pattern into their wardrobe. Perfect as a more discrete way of bucking the pattern trend for the man who doesn’t wish to don paisley or geometric prints from head to toe (which I am assuming from the comments on our trend piece is the majority of us.)

With Remi giving us a superb breakdown of 6 ways of tying a scarf last week, there couldn’t be a better time to integrate a neck tie of some form into your wardrobe. With this in mind, there seems to be two distinct ways of wearing the neck tie prevalent at the moment: the Classic Dandy and the Urban Cowboy.

The Classic Dandy Look

The Classic Dandy Neck Tie Lookbook

The classic dandy neck tie is currently proving to be the most popular way of wearing this trend and has been championed by Esquire magazine as well as several design houses at the largest Global Fashion Weeks for SS12. One of the biggest proponents of this look were Etro at Milan Fashion Week, with their muted marine and pale green paisley patterned neck ties double wrapped around the throat and loosely knotted. The Etro collection also contained black and white polka dot patterned designs and neck ties featuring brightly coloured tribal prints – echoing another trend likely to be huge this summer.

Similarly, Hermes at Paris Fashion Week showcased neck ties as a key feature but rather than opting for pattern, Hermes chose block colours in emerald greens and fluorescent yellows and pinks. These prove to be slightly more understated than printed neck ties, but the bright pop colours ensure that the accessory makes no less of an impact.

Finally, Prada in Milan used the neck tie as a staple accessory of their SS12 range, which together with patterned baker boy-style caps acted as an anchor for the majority of the collection. Prada favoured geometric prints and paisley patterning in bright yellows, burnt oranges and browns – excellently echoing the style and colours typical to the 70s.

The fashion press have also picked up on the popularity of the neck tie, with Details magazine recently including a feature on capturing the timeless look of Miles Davis, who was a huge fan of silk neck ties. In fact, back in the 90s, Gap featured an ad campaign [below left] featuring Miles Davis himself wearing a silk neck tie, which is bang on trend for the current fashion climate.

Similarly, Esquire magazine included an image of the great Yves Saint Laurent in their neck tie feature, as he was a man who represented a perfect example of how to wear the neck tie effectively. Yves Saint Laurent was infamous for wearing said neck ties [below right] with his staple safari shirts creating a look that again could have walked straight off the SS12 catwalks.

Miles Davis and Yves Saint Laurent Wearing A Neck Tie

The most attractive feature of the neck tie is its versatility – it can be worn as per the Etro ad campaign with patterned, open shirts to achieve a carefree, hippy-like look. To achieve the look effectively, team the neck tie with an open shirt and the tie knotted loosely at the neck with the excess material tucked into the shirt. Or to make the overall look even more casual, instead of a shirt opt for a thin jumper or sweater and leave the loosely-knotted tie trailing down the front of the chest rather than tucking it in.

Alternatively, for a more dandyish look à la Ralph Lauren, throw on a blazer or cardigan over the top which will add a debonair dash without looking too fussy. For tips on how to tie the knot, Savile Row designer Patrick Grant says: ‘The trick to a good-looking neck tie is to go for a soft fabric, such as silk, and keep it thin. And the knot should be very loose.’

The Urban Cowboy Look

The Urban Cowboy Neck Tie Lookbook

The second look currently being championed for the neck tie is slightly more rugged and unfinished. The tie is twisted around itself and then tied in a tighter knot at the throat – creating a cowboy-like effect. This type of neck tie is occasionally also referred to as a bandanna or neckerchief. Although this look seems to be slightly overshadowed by the ‘classic dandy’ look in the current fashion press and SS12 designer shows, it still has a certain appeal.

At their SS12 collections, Topman Design, J. Crew and J. Lindeberg all featured the neck tie in this neckerchief manner. Again there seems to be a preference for patterned neck ties, with them being tied in a much tighter knot and worn higher around the neck. The March issue of GQ also included a ‘GQ Essentials’ supplement which featured a page dedicated to neck ties worn in the ‘Urban Cowboy’ way, whilst high street ad campaigns for popular brands such as H&M have also featured the neck ties worn in this manner.

The urban cowboy neck tie creates a slightly ‘rough around the edges’ look – creating an altogether more masculine, rugged effect than the dandy look. Historically, these types of neck ties were originally inspired by princes at war during the late 1600s in Europe. The princes used to dress hurriedly for battle and haphazardly wound their ties around their necks before hastily twisting the ends together to fasten them.

To achieve the look effectively in the current fashion climate, pair with a simple t-shirt and jeans with a leather jacket or blouson. Also, wear the knot slightly off centre to heighten the effect of recklessness and wild abandon. To smarten the look up, opt for a blazer rather than a casual jacket.

Current Men’s Scarf/Neckerchief Picks
  • Asos Ship NeckerchiefAsos Ship Neckerchief
  • Asos Paisley Edge NeckerchiefAsos Paisley Edge Neckerchief
  • Denim & Supply By Ralph Lauren NeckerchiefDenim & Supply By Ralph Lauren Neckerchief
  • Topman Paisley NecktieTopman Paisley Necktie
  • Topman Cream Paisley NeckerTopman Cream Paisley Necker
  • Libertine-libertine Boat Print ScarfLibertine-libertine Boat Print Scarf
  • Alexander Mcqueen Paisley Skull Print ScarfAlexander Mcqueen Paisley Skull Print Scarf
  • Jane Carr Necker Triangle ScarfJane Carr Necker Triangle Scarf
  • Silk Scarf With Traditional Pattern Bandana By Boss BlackSilk Scarf With Traditional Pattern Bandana By Boss Black
  • Drakes Real Ancient Madder ScarfDrakes Real Ancient Madder Scarf
  • Drakes Polkadot Pocket SquareDrakes Polkadot Pocket Square
  • Pure Silk Scarf Oblong Scarf 160×35 By Boss BlackPure Silk Scarf Oblong Scarf 160x35 By Boss Black
  • Universal Works Red Irregular Dot ScarfUniversal Works Red Irregular Dot Scarf
  • Austin Reed Viyella Stone/cobalt Paisley Silk ScarfAustin Reed Viyella Stone/cobalt Paisley Silk Scarf
  • Ralph Lauren Purple Label Spectator-print Silk-satin ScarfRalph Lauren Purple Label Spectator-print Silk-satin Scarf
  • Austin Reed 110th Anniversary Black Silk ScarfAustin Reed 110th Anniversary Black Silk Scarf
  • Etro Printed Silk-twill ScarfEtro Printed Silk-twill Scarf
  • Woodhouse Black Paisley Design Tassle Silk ScarfWoodhouse Black Paisley Design Tassle Silk Scarf

So, now it is over to you:

  • What do you think about the new craze for neck ties?
  • Is this something that you could see yourself wearing this season?
  • Or perhaps you have already adopted the trend and regularly adorn your neck in this way?
  • Do you have a preference for the ‘classic dandy’ look or do you see yourself as more of an ‘urban cowboy?’

We look forward to hearing your comments.