I’m convinced that most tie wearing men own too many ties, but at the same time, not enough striped ones. The advantage of striped rep ties is that they’re simple, unassailably in good taste, and wearable with almost anything – from smooth and silky suits to rough and tweedy sport coats. English foulards (which are those silk prints with small, repeating, geometric shapes) and paisley ancient madders, on the other hand, often look best with either one or the other, but not both. Which means if you’re building a necktie wardrobe, it’s better to start with a good foundation of striped rep ties and solid colored grenadines before you branch out to raw silks, boucles, or unusual prints.
It used to be that men could only own one striped necktie. The style originated in the early 20th century, when decommissioned British officers wanted to continue wearing their regimental colors after they returned to civilian life. Hence, we get the term “regimental silks” for how those colors denoted those officers’ service. After a while, the practice was taken up by men in exclusive clubs or colleges, such as the students of Trinity College wearing navy ties with white stripes, or members of the Hawks Club wearing red ties with yellow stripes. It was inconceivable that you could ever buy these ties in a store, as they were for members only, which is why men only had one style they could wear.
Luckily, the social meaning of these ties has largely been lost, so men can own as many as they want. In the US, you can find them at J. Press, Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers and Paul Stuart. The first two make them in more appealing patterns, in my opinion, than the last two. On the upside, all four companies have tons of ties on eBay, and they often get overlooked, which means you can buy them for pennies on the dollar.
My favorite maker, however, might be EG Cappelli – a small, Neapolitan house that uses new English silks, but in patterns that feel a bit more Old World. They have a number of ties, for example, in really muted colors, such as ones with chalky brown stripes set on a dull navy ground. These ties are softly constructed with a thin, wool interlining and lots of handwork, which makes tying them up feel a bit more pleasurable. If you can’t afford their bespoke service, which cost 80 Euros, then they have ready-made ties through their outlet store for 50 Euros and a small selection of designs at Gentlemen’s Footwear for $125. Free shipping is available at EG Cappelli when you buy five ties or more.
Whether you pay $25 for some vintage Brooks Brothers tie you found on eBay or $125 for a brand new EG Cappelli, you can hardly go wrong by getting a handful in your basic dark colors (browns, blues, burgundies, and greens), They’re not as eye-catchy as other designs, but that just means they’re a lot more wearable.