Even with a closet full of neckties, I’m always drawn to picking up a thing or two from Drake’s every season. It’s said that the company offers English taste in the way the Italians or French might imagine it – classic English designs reinterpreted with a bit more verve. Not too unlike how an Italian or French man might wear his British clothes. It might just be a marketing line, but it’s not a bad way to describe the company. In a world where everyone offers of the same Macclesfield prints and silk foulards, Drake’s successfully walks the line between classic and novel, which is why guys like me keep coming back.
This season, they have their regular stable of wools, madders, and rep striped silks, but also some new and interesting things – such as Shetland yarns woven on grenadine looms, and wool-alpaca blends that offer unique textures. In addition, there are some new re-colorings of old, archive pocket square designs, such as those birds of paradise and unicorn prints that were originally made for Holland & Holland, as well as a colorful Navajo-inspired square taken from a scarf they used to sell in the 1970s. The growing line of knitwear, shirts, and sport coats also make the brand into more than just an accessories label. (Fun fact: the sport coats are made by Belvest, which is something of a return-to-history, as Michael Drake used to travel the world selling Belvest before he started his own company).
Drake’s website is worth a browse if you want to be inspired by some new things to wear this fall, but here are also some selections from a few of my favorite stores.
No Man Walks Alone: Good, patterned wools can be hard to come by, but No Man Walks Alone has some tastefully striped ones this season in navy and brown. I also like the mini-paisley madders for wear with tweed sport coats and flannel suits, as well as this rust orange number. Rust orange is a wonderfully distinctive, but unobtrusive color. Being a bit more interesting than your standard navy or burgundy neckwear, it’s a nice way to add a highlight to what you’re wearing without being too loud.
Exquisite Trimmings: I love solid-colored ties with lots of texture. Like with silk grenadines, they’re easy to pair with patterned sport coats, but also help add a bit of visual interest to more sedate ensembles. This season, Exquisite Trimmings has some seasonal textured knitwear in the form of silk Donegals, marled grenadines, and fuzzy wool nailheads. There are also lots of pocket squares (some not seemingly available anywhere else), as well as two Fair Isle scarves that would pair well with waxed Barbour jackets and navy pea coats.
The Armoury: The Armoury might have the biggest selection of Drake’s products in the US – which makes sense given that Mark Cho is a co-owner of both brands. Michael Hill, the design director for Drake’s, tells me that his favorites include the ancient madders, hand printed foulards, rep stripes, and grenadines. “They’re the ties I invariably turn to, almost always in shades of navy and dark green, as they go so well with tweed and flannel.”
The Armoury seems to have every grenadine color under the sun, but if you’re looking for something new, consider this dark gold, which would pair well with checked brown sport coats, green tweeds, and navy blazers. I also like the versatility of a good, dark gray wool tie in the colder months (The Armoury has a few, although I like these two shades). And finally, there are more patterned wool ties, an enormous pocket square and scarf selection, and a washed chambray shirt that would pair well with casual sport coats. See John Goldberger for inspiration.
A Suitable Wardrobe: I’m too timid to wear some of Drake’s bolder scarves, but these silk-to-cashmere reversibles look perfect. A bit more interesting than your basic wool tartans, they’ll add a nice, sophisticated touch to a classic overcoat. And although they’re not specific to this season, A Suitable Wardrobe has a great selection of subtly patterned neckwear. Consider how well these soft cashmeres, wool herringbones, and not-quite-solid wovens would look with everything from worsted suits and tweed or flannel sport coats.
Mr. Porter: For something with a bit more personality, Mr. Porter carries Drake’s wool-alpaca blends in blue and gray. Obviously a strictly casual tie, but one that looks like it would be rather fun to wear. Drake’s website has more photos.