Ties

Ties are my preferred accessory. Ties make you feel important and make you look good. Ties can and should be worn casually (i.e., with jeans); every tie exists on a scale of casual to formal. Aspects like fabric, length, knot, and shape all adjust where your tie falls on the scale. A square-end tie is more casual, but a knit tie (which normally has a square end) is more formal. Wool ties are more rugged and textured, and are usually worn in winter. Polyester ties are mostly relegated to thrift store bins, and repp ties make you look preppy.

Some things with ties are standard, though: the bottom should hit at your belt buckle, the four-in-hand knot is the knot you will tie the most (although the double four-in-hand will give you a kick of sprezzatura), and you should never hang knit ties but rather store them laying flat (gravity will loosen the weave if you hang them).

I really love talking about ties.

1. Kenneth Field 4-Way Stripe and Solid Tie

This four-panel tie absolutely blows my mind. I've never seen anything like it before. Super utilitarian, each panel can be worn in front, so you've got four ties in one here. The 80/20 percent wool/silk blend gives nice texture, there's a good spread of colors, and the mixture of stripe and solid fabrics adds versatility. Unionmade also has three other styles of four-way ties, and if I talk about them much more I may not be able to resist getting one.

Available in four styles @ Unionmade ($150–$185)

2. Freemans Sporting Club Necktie

I've been coveting one of Freemans Sporting Club's deadstock wool ties for a long time. Plaid ties walk a fine line; the colors and pattern have to be just right. The plaid options at FSC are some of the best I've seen anywhere. The different blue and brown tones mean you can wear this with pretty much anything - navy/brown/gray suits, solid/stripe/check shirts, or just jeans. The texture and tone of a wool tie make it much more flexible than a shiny silk one (at least for me). I could wear a tie like this every day.

Available in five styles @ Freemans Sporting Club ($98)

3. The Hill-Side Fancy Dobby Cloth Check Tie

If you need a tie that looks like no other tie around, then shopping at Hickoree's for a tie by The Hill-Side will make you feel like a kid at a candy store. The fabrics are a feast for the eyes, and most are available not just as ties but as bow-ties, pocket squares, bandanas, and scarves to boot.

This pick is a special make-up with Japanese brand Sunny Sports and is constructed from wool-blend dobby cloth, which has extra texture and an irregular pattern. The geometric pattern has a fluorescent glow that is balanced by the navy blue, which makes the tie stand out and look great. There are five other ties in The Hill-Side/Sunny Sports collaboration, and you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with any one of them.

Available (along with The Hill-Side's entire range) @ Hickoree's ($80–$90)

4. Fine and Dandy Brown Donegal Tweed Tie

There's something really wonderful about Donegal tweed, and it's actually pretty easy to pinpoint what it is: the flecks of color in the fabric. Donegal tweed is woven in Northwest Ireland, and is distinctive to other tweed fabrics. These ties look like a solid color from farther away, but when you see the fabric up close you'll notice the specks of color, which makes them handy to have in your collection, for any formal or casual occasion.

Available in a bunch of colors and patterns @ Fine and Dandy Shop ($59)

5. The Knottery Dotted Silk Knit Tie

The Knottery is a one-stop shop for great deals on accessories (the same pieces often cost you a lot more elsewhere). The thing is, everything they have is great, so it's a wonder you'd buy your ties anywhere else. If you've never tried a silk knit tie, any one of these is your best option to start with. Silk knits are really fun to wear; you don't see them as much as you do other fabrics, yet they can be worn all year round, look great with suits or jeans, and come in all sorts of colors.

The Knottery's also great because you can order a narrow (2.25'') or regular width tie (3''). If you don't know which would be better for you, I'd advise to get a wider tie. Conventional wisdom says to match your tie width to the width of your lapel, but knit ties are a bit of an exception to that rule. To me, it's worse to have a tie that's too narrow as opposed to too wide, and with knit ties their texture is conducive to a wider tie. Be bold.

Available in dots, solids, and more @ The Knottery ($25–$35)