Well you say you want a revolution? The Beatles sure played a role in many important revolutions, but have you ever considered how they helped to commandeer the revamping of the skinny tie? Yeah baby, yeah! Who didn’t love that sleek mod style of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s when Brit Rock was all the rage and one hardly had to think past one of three shades you’d be wearing that day.
The skinny tie has been looped in and out of fashion since the start of the 1950s when Esquire coined the “Mister T” look. The emphasis on slimmer lines – tapered suits, thinner lapels, shallower hat brims – suited the skinny tie well. Slimming down the tie width to roughly 3 inches, as fashion conscious minds opened up the width of the tie steadily narrowed until the mid 1960s.
This was the heyday for creative junkies and harrowing retreat from the boisterous “Bold Look” of the post-war era, where gaudy ties were as wide as a child’s smile on a carnival ride, and tended to fall just below the breastplate. The true Madmen of the day were as sleek as their slogans, looking about as dapper (or should I say, Draper) as some dudes today.
Kiera Morgan, the founder of Toronto based custom tie designers Handsome and Lace, often harkens back to the “up and down” style of ‘50s and ‘60s vintage in her lines.
“Vintage was underrated in the past, but in the last few years those styles, patterns and fabrics have been rising in popularity,” she says. “They make you look leaner – the sleek, narrow width is flattering and classy.”
The garish return of busy, wide-breadth ties in the late ‘60s and ‘70s eventually gave way to perhaps the slimmest decade in tie-dom. Ties as narrow as an inch and a half made of leather, crushed velvet or other morose materials mingled atop florid shirted midriffs during this period of dubious fashion. Unfortunately, the ‘90s won’t be showing up much in the archival “win” column in one’s fashion almanac, either.
On a more positive note, however, the modern day reprise to slim lines and an eclectic use of colours and patterns has brought forth a veritable renaissance of the skinny tie. Pairing paisley and a proper white shirt or donning woven wool ties with flat bottoms is all too appropriate. For the fall season, flannels and plaids can be matched with your favourite denim and a set of suspenders, or dressed up along with a snug fitting suit.
“I love to mix and match patterns and colours,” Kiera tells me. “A skinny tie is perfect for that because it’s not overwhelming in the same way as a 2-inch tie might be.”
As more and more requests for Don Draper tie recreations pile up on the desk of Handsome and Lace, it seems as though we may be entrenched in the most creative, yet cultivated era of ties to date. So, I ask Kiera, are skinny ties here to stay?
“Why not!” she exclaims. “We’ve come this far!”