Our friend Paul over at Winston Clothiers/ Chipp2 recently added suspenders to his small, but growing, line of men’s accessories. These are made from tastefully striped or solid grosgrain silks, leather fittings, and metal hardware. The price is $42.50, which –- much like the price of his handmade grenadine ties -– is a lot lower than most of his competitors. And, like those ties, these are made in New York City.
Why wear suspenders? Well, a few reasons:
They’re much more comfortable than belts. Since your waist can expand when you sit, and return to its smaller circumference when you stand, belts are often only comfortable in one of these positions. Suspenders, on the other hand, allow you to have a little extra room at the waistband to accommodate for these changes.
They’re better at holding up your pants. This might be the best reason. Belted trousers have a tendency to slip down throughout the day, which requires you to constantly adjust them. With suspenders, you can set the desired length, put them on, and never have to bother with them again.
They help your pants drape better. For whatever reason, I’ve found suspenders help pants drape better, particularly at the back. Even if the pants have been custom made for you, belted trousers often have a bit of bunching below the seat. This issue goes away with suspenders.
There are a few things you need in order to wear suspenders, however. Most obviously, you need the buttons on the inside of your waistband in order to attach the leather bits (these often come standard on high-end trousers, but can be added by a tailor if you don’t have them). You also need something cut with a mid- or high-rise (do not wear suspenders with low-rise pants).
You can order Chipp2’s braces at their website or at their store at 28 West 44th Street in New York City. If you can do the second, I’d highly encourage it. Paul is a wonderful man, and an absolute pleasure to talk to. If you allow him, he’ll tell you all sorts of great stories from the heyday of Ivy Style (his father founded Chipp in the late 1940s, after starting his career at J. Press. In his time, he became famous for his madras jackets and for being one of John F. Kennedy’s tailors. You can read about some of this company history at the blog Ivy Style).
Note: Chipp2 is going to be an advertiser with us next month, but our advertising and editorial processes are separate. Besides, we’ve long written about his business and have always liked what he does.
I’d like to meet Paul Winston someday. As regular readers know, Paul runs the traditional clothiers business Chipp2/ Winston Tailors out of midtown Manhattan, and his father – Sidney Winston – was one of President Kennedy’s tailors. I’ve talked with Paul a few times over the phone and he always comes off as an incredibly charming man with lots of great stories (which he tells in his slight New Yorker accent). Last time we spoke, I asked him why doesn’t he charge more for his grenadines. They’re handmade in the US and use the same fabric as everyone else, but are currently cheaper than grenadines machine stitched in East Asia. Paul told me that it’s because he’s old enough to remember what prices used to be like back in the day, and can’t bring himself to charge more, even if people will pay. I’d normally think that was some slick marketing line, but when you talk to Paul, you easily get the sense that he’s a real deal, sincere guy, and I believe him.
In any case, Paul recently got a bunch of lambswool ties in. Since he runs a custom clothier business, he has some lambswool left over from jackets he’s made, so he decided to turn them into ties and sell them at a cheap price. There are seventeen colors, all solid, which make them a good complement to patterned shirts and jackets. Each tie measures 58.25" long and 3.25" in width, and costs $35 (shipping for up to three ties is $7.50 within the US, and $13.50 for international). Unlike his grenadines, these are machine stitched, but still made in New York. The interlinings are a wool/ poly blend, and a bit thicker than what seems to be the trend in high-end neckwear these days, but I knotted a few of them up and they still seemed great. With a little bit of tugging on each side of the loop, as demonstrate here by Bernhard Roetzel, you can get the knot pretty small. For $35, I think they’re a pretty good buy. Good enough that I purchased one for myself before sending the lot back.
I snapped a few photos, but for some reason, the colors didn’t come out terribly well the group shots. In the top most photo, moving from top to bottom we have: tan, gold, toast, sky blue, light blue, navy, and black. The “black” should really be the same color as my navy sport coat, which the ties are laying on top of. It’s really more of a midnight navy, not true black, in my opinion. The tie labeled navy (second from the bottom) is perhaps one shade lighter than a midnight navy. The colors are better represented in the close-up pictures, though navy and black are still lighter in the photos than they are in real life.
In the second group shot, again moving from top to bottom, we have: grey, light grey, pumpkin, mauve, coral, purple, light plum, and lilac. Again, the colors are better represented in the close up photos.
Tan and sky blue are already sold out, and two colors not pictured here are chocolate brown and royal blue. Customers can request swatches if they’d like to get a better sense of the fabrics’ textures and colors. And if you purchase something and don’t like it, Paul is happy to take returns.
To order, you can just go to Chipp2’s website and buy one of their dog ties, then in the comment section, say something like “I don’t want a dog tie, I want a ….” Or you can call Paul directly at (212) 687-0850. Unlike his grenadines, which will always be available, this is a limited run only. The quantities are quite uneven, and some colors only have six or less in stock. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.
One of the biggest fights in men’s fashion during the early 19th century was over the appropriate color of men’s neckwear. At the time, men wore cravats (a type of decorative neckerchief) in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and knots, but always in one color and one color only – white. Pristine white too, so as to show that you were a member of high society.
Which is why there was such a big backlash in 1840 when some liberal minded dressers started wearing them in black. As one leading magazine of the day wrote about it:
One of the most important events of the moment is the conflict between the black cravat and the white cravat. Can one now appear in good society with a black silk tie? Convention’s repose is an unhesitating no. But the new fashion answers in the affirmative. […] What’s next? How will Paris respond? According to our sources at their embassies, the great world powers are divided on the question. One irate woman of high society has brought forward the following thread, ‘If the level of male indecency reaches the point of wearing black cravats, we will be forced into retaliating by raising the necklines of our dresses.’
Despite such serious threats, black cravats became the norm by 1850.
Today, men don’t wear cravats, of course, but rather neckties, and black is one of the most useful colors you can own (along with navy). One or two should be enough, with at least one of those being a silk knit or grenadine. As we’ve written before, the advantage of ties that are both solid colored and textured is that you can wear them with almost any kind of shirt and jacket combination. If your shirt and jacket are patterned, the solid color of your tie will keep things from looking too busy. If instead your shirt and jacket are solid colored, then the textured weave will keep things from looking too boring. Such ties are the easiest to put on in the morning when you don’t want to think too much about what to wear.
In black, things are doubly easy. You can wear black ties with tan cotton or linen sport coats in the summer and things will still look suitably light and cheery. In the winter, you can wear them with grey flannel suits and brown tweed jackets for a more somber look. Additionally, a black tie can add a little color variation to a navy jacket when a navy tie might feel too matchy-matchy.
Bold ties have a bad reputation, and perhaps for good reason. In the 1940s, shortly after the war, wild tie designs took the US by storm, creating what Esquire would later coin as “the American bold look.” Perhaps it’s because livelier ties helped uplift men’s spirits, or because an embattled Britain could no longer supply the US with its usual materials. Whatever the reason, rayon and Dacron replaced silk, and conservative patterns were forgotten in favor of more flamboyant designs. Rummage through the discount bin in any thrift store today and you can see some of them: ties made with African or Indian iconography, large motifs of pin up girls, or just strange designs inspired by art movements from the early 20th century.
There are times, however, when a bolder tie can look good, and just because many bold ties have been designed poorly (both in the past and today), doesn’t mean that every one should be avoided. Just check out some of the examples above, which I took from Anderson & Sheppard’s vanity book, A Style is Born. Impeccably well-dressed men wearing slightly more interesting designs. There’s a bright fuchsia tie that makes a grey suit look more cheery; a paint splattered grey tie that makes a navy suit look more interesting; and a green tie with an unusual motif that looks not too unlike those 1940s designs I mentioned earlier. For an even bolder look, check out this photo of Barima Nyantekyi, who was shot by Rose Callahan for her book on modern-day dandies. Few men will ever look that good.
There are a couple of companies I like for bold neckwear. Morigi Milano has some old, deadstock Arnys designs, which were made before the company was sold to the luxury conglomerate LVMH. Their old tie designer, Dominique Lelys, has started his own line called Le Lys, which is available at Cuffs, but the designs aren’t as whimsical (they do have contrasting front and back blades, however, like some of Zegna’s ties). In addition, I really like Drake’s and Battistoni, although many of Battistoni’s better designs are hard to find in the US (they’re carried at Barney’s, but the selection is often not that appealing). Our friend Niyi also has a great line using fabrics from Nigeria, and he’s having a sale at the moment, with a new fall line dropping soon. Lastly, our advertiser Chipp has what they call their “conversational ties,” which have cleverly hidden messages. You can see some of them being worn by Voxsartoria.
Of course, I think most men do best with a drawer full of basic, conservative neckwear. Lots of repp stripes, foulards, and grenadines in dark colors such as navy, dark brown, and forest green. But it also doesn’t hurt to have a few more interesting pieces as well. Things don’t always have to be so boring.
We’ve been longtime fans of Chipp Neckwear, well before they became one of our sponsors. The reason is, simply, they offer great value in men’s accessories for the budget-minded consumer. Chipp’s ties are handmade in NYC, using the same fabrics as top-tier producers, but come at a price of $40-50, instead of your usual $100-150. Plus, you get a bit of cool provenance with Chipp. They were a famous clothier during the heyday of classic American style and served as President Kennedy’s tailor (along with his brother Bobby). Very well regarded among the Ivy Style crowd.
So what’s the tradeoff? Well, less “artisanal” construction, mostly. On Drake’s ties, for example, you’ll find that the back of the two blades are “tipped” with a fine silk or some other high-quality material, and if they’re not, the edges are then handrolled. With Chipp’s ties, the edges are flat and folded – much like what you’d find at Brooks Brothers or Ralph Lauren – and the ends are tipped with polyester, rather than silk. Less desirable for the guy who wants something made as finely as possible, but a wonderful value for anyone who doesn’t want to pay $100-150 for a tie.
In the past couple of months, the owner of Chipp (Paul) has been working on a new collection of Matka cloth ties. Matka cloth, for those unfamiliar, is an India fabric made from spun silk. It’s slubby and textured, much like raw silk, tussah, and shantung, but is woven in a sort of burlap weave. Like those aforementioned materials, it gives some nice visual interest in the warmer months to a suit or sport coat. Think of it as a more seasonal version of grenadine – something textured, but solid colored, which makes it easy to pair with a wide range of shirts and jackets.
For the time being, Chipp’s Matka cloth ties are $35 a piece, but they’ll go up to $42.50 once Paul gets around to putting them up on his site. Widths are very classic and middle-of-the-road (3.25" for four-in-hands; 2.5" for bow ties). To order, you’ll have to email or call, or visit the shop in NYC. To figure out what colors you’re looking at, you can click the photos above and see their descriptions (note, bow ties are missing in two of the photos, but they’re available for order). You can also follow Chipp on a new blog they’ve set up.
This past Monday, I received a gold grenadine from Paul Winston. Mr. Winston, as you may know, is heir to one of the greatest names in America’s clothing history, Chipp. His father, Sidney Winston, started the company in 1947 and before long, Chipp became one of most important traditional men’s clothiers in America. It stands alongside names such as Brooks Brothers, J Press, and FR Tripler. Paul now continues that tradition through Winston Tailors and Chipp2.
Chipp2’s grenadines are handmade in New York using grenadine fina silks from Seteria Bianchi, a mill in Italy. They feel slightly less meaty than the grenadines I own from J Press (at least the contemporary ones) and are bit closer to those that were made fifteen or twenty years ago. Sometimes you can still find those on eBay, but they’re rare. Which you prefer is really a matter of taste, but both kinds are unquestionably nice.
Impressively, Paul is able to sell his grenadines for $47.50, which is about half the price of what most other makers charge. They’re not cheap, to be sure, but given that you can almost get away with owning just a navy grenadine tie and nothing else, these are a great value.
In addition to the tie, Paul sent me a few fabric swatches. You can get a grenadine from him in any of these colors. Pictured here, going from left to right, are black, chocolate brown, rust, wine, red, navy, blue, forest green, gold, and yellow. There was also a purple swatch, kind of like eggplant, but I accidentally forgot to include it. If you want your own swatches, you can also request them from Paul.
To order a grenadine, call Paul at (212) 687-0850 or visit his shop at 28 West 44th Street in New York City (it’s between 5th and 6th Avenue). You can also order them online through a slightly circuitous route. First go to his website and order one of his dog ties. Then in the comment section, tell him which color grenadine you want and the correct charge will be made on your credit card. He also accepts Paypal.
Our friend Paul Winston just revamped his website so that it includes his entire line of neckwear. No more trying to discern the color of some tie through a badly taken photograph I produced, and making a note in the comment section of Chipp2’s website, trying to order what you need. Everything’s up now, and you can browse Paul’s entire line of grenadines, lambswools, silk knits, ancient madders, and even the novelty ties for which he’s most famous. Even if you’re not one to wear novelty ties, these can be pretty fun to look at. Here’s Santa with a heart on.
Our friend Paul Winston over at Chipp2 just got in some new ties. We think his grenadines are some of the best deals around, and like those, these two new styles are priced very reasonably.
First, there are some new silk knits, which come from Seteria Bianchi in Italy. These are slightly crunchy, though less “stiff” than the silk knits you’d find at Land’s End or Drake’s. They measure just a hair under 2.5" in width and come in a nice assortment of colors. One can go very far with just the black one alone.
Then there are some ancient madders, which are made with a heavy silk printed in England. These have a slightly less “chalky” hand than other ancient madders you might come across, but they’re still very soft, and come in a nice palette of colors. Width here measures 3.25".
Both styles are $49.50, and shipping is $7.50 for up to three ties in the USA, or $15.50 for international. To order, call Paul at (212) 687-0850 or visit his shop at 28 West 44th Street in New York City (it’s between 5th and 6th Avenue). You can also order them online through a slightly circuitous route. First go to Chipp2’s website and order one of the dog ties. Then in the comment section, write something like “I don’t want a dog tie, I want the …” The correct charge will be made to your card.
[John] never went anywhere without his pipe. One day [he] was giving a talk and as he was about to begin, he put his pipe into his Shetland jacket pocket. The pipe was not properly extinguished. Mid-talk, the jacket pocket was aflame. Every jacket we made for John from that day had a ‘fire proof’ pipe pocket.
Paul Winston over at Winston Tailors and Chipp2 recently shared with me some of his “conversation pieces.” He’s the author of the designs and has been making them for years. They’re rather legendary, in fact, among fans of the “Ivy League look."
Each of the designs has a double meeting. Some are subtle; others are not. I thought I’d share a few with you, just for kicks.
Top photo: The first two are somewhat straightforward. We all know someone who is referred to as a "hotdog.” The necktie next to that has the Latin translation for “When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” Those from the 60s and 70s may recognize that as a reference to the Vietnam War. President Johnson once famously said that we were fighting for the hearts and minds of the North Vietnamese people, and his General Chief of Staff replied “Mr. President, when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
The next one is a bit vulgar, but I thought fairly clever. It’s for the man who has nothing on his mind but … well, you know. For the last two, one says FU (spelled out) and the one on the far right is the chemical equation for piss and vinegar.
Bottom photo: IITYWIMWYBMAD? If you’re asked what this means, you can hesitate and then ask, “If I tell you what it means, will you buy me a drink?” I know, terrible, but I laughed. Next to that is “non mi rompere i coglioni,” which is for the Italian expression “don’t bust my balls."
The last four have mostly straightforward designs - there’s the ambulance chaser, a skull and bones tie, and something for jocks (the jock strap actually looks like a crest, if you’ll notice). My favorite out of all these, however, is probably the one with the sports balls. When Paul originally ran this in his tie catalog, he called it "The All Sports Tie.” It didn’t do too well. He told his father how disappointed he was, and his father said it was because he gave it the wrong name. “That’s not the ‘All Sports Tie,’” his father said. “That tie is 'A Lot of Balls.’”
It then sold out.
Paul notes that the difference between bad taste and sophisticated humor depends on who is wearing the tie or giving it as a gift. If a Fortune 500 CEO gave one of these as a gift to one of his board members, it would be considered sophisticated humor. If they were being sold at Saks 5th Avenue, they would be in bad taste.
Personally, I’ll stick with his grenadines, but I can’t say that I didn’t get a good laugh out of these. Should you want one, you can contact Paul at his store.
We Got It For Free: The Knottery Grenadine and Silk Knit Ties
The Knottery, a relatively new entrant in men’s neckwear, recently sent me two of their ties to review. The package came last week and in it was a solid navy grenadine, which is part of a new collection of grenadines they’ve just introduced, as a well as a solid burgundy silk knit.
The silk knit is straightforward enough. Whereas regular neckties have more complicated constructions, silk knits are simply woven on machines either in tubular constructions or attached through a seam at the back. The ones at The Knottery are three inches wide and made in the first method (tubular). Some men prefer this because without the seam, you don’t have the small bump going down the back, which in turn won’t bulk up the knot. I personally have never had a preference either way. What I do think men should consider, however, is the material and weave that the knit is formed in. Silk, cotton and wool will obviously create different looks, and each can be woven in a different weave. One only needs to compare the silk knits at Drake’s, J. Press, and Land’s End to see what I mean. None are better than the others, but they do serve different tastes. If you like the material and weave at The Knottery, these seem like a decent value at $25.
The grenadines are perhaps a bit more exciting. With the exception of Chipp2, I don’t know of any other retailers selling grenadines for under $60. The Knottery’s are $55, three inches wide, and made from the same silk grenadine fabrics that all the other high-end makers use (with the exception of “mock” grenadines, I believe there are only two sources for “true” grenadine fabrics, and both of them are very good). They are also constructed in New York by a very well respected American manufacturer (I can’t reveal who, but they’re well respected).
Perhaps their only faults are that they’re made with a 50/50 polyester-wool interlining, which means that the tie won’t relax as easily after a long day’s wear, and that they’re machine made. Normally, with high-quality wool interlinings, you can hang your tie up for a night and the wrinkles will naturally fall out. This is a bit more difficult with blends. The machined seam at the back also seems a bit tight, which I admit makes me wonder about the tie’s longevity. On the one hand, numerous high-end makers have told me that a slightly looser slip stitch is essential to ensuring that the tie has enough give when it’s being wrapped tightly around a neck, and can return to its original shape when it’s unknotted. On the other hand, before wearing handmade neckties, I wore mid-tier, machine-made ties from department stores for years, many of which had these tighter stitches, and none of them snapped. Their only problem was that they looked a bit lifeless and failed to give a good dimple when knotted, but none of these are issues that The Knottery’s grenadines suffer from.
Outside of those concerns, the rest are just preferences. My favorite grenadines are from Drake’s, Sulka (now defunct), and E.G. Cappelli, all of which are lightly lined. The Knottery’s are a bit heavier, but not as heavy as my grenadines from J. Press. They also have a slightly peculiar feel when you rub the fabric between two fingers – a feel that’s not too unlike rubbing the fabric of a silk knit together, which doesn’t happen with any of my other four-in-hands. Not better or worse for it, mind you, just different.
Of course, some may wonder how these compare to Chipp2’s grenadines, which are the other affordable option on the market. I admit I like Chipp2’s lighter feel, pure wool interlining, and hand construction, but I dislike that their outer fabric (the silk) is somewhat loosely attached to the interlining itself. The Knottery’s are built like all of my other grenadines, with the brushed interlining staying close to the silk, and I think it gives a more handsome dimple. They’re also easier to order from, though some might find charm in Chipp2’s slightly roundabout process. Perhaps most importantly, Chipp2’s are made from garza fina, which have a fine weave, whereas The Knottery’s are garza grossa, which have a slight honeycomb like appearance. Again, purely a matter of taste, but I generally prefer garza fina with suits made from smoother, worsted wools, and garza grossa with more informal jackets.
Either way, for those on a budget, you now have two sources to get an affordable grenadine – Chipp2 and The Knottery – both of which offer decent options.
Paul Winston over at Chipp2 kindly gave us a heads up yesterday to say that the price of his grenadines will be going up March 1st. Instead of $47.50, which is what they’re priced at now, they’ll be $49.50 starting next month. That’s because the price for grenadine fabric has been steadily rising, so Paul has to keep up. Even with the price hike, however, Chipp2 remains the most affordable grenadine tie supplier around. And if you for some reason could only own one tie, it probably should be a navy grenadine. It’s arguably the most versatile tie you can own.
To buy one of Chipp2’s greandines, call Paul at (212) 687-0850 or visit his shop at 28 West 44th Street in New York City (it’s between 5th and 6th Avenue). You can also order them online through a slightly circuitous route. First go to Chipp2's website and order one of the dog ties. Then in the comment section, tell him which color grenadine you want and the correct charge will be made on your credit card. He also accepts Paypal.
Update: One of our readers asked for the width of Chipp2’s grenadines. They’re 3.5" wide, and about 58" to 59" in length. If you need, Paul can shorten them for you, but if you want them narrowed, your best bet is to take them to TieCrafters (who charges about $22 or so). Note, Chipp2’s grenadines are all hand stitched, so there will be some variation in measurements because of the nature of the work. It won’t be much, but expect a 1/16 or 1/8" allowance.
The Tie Bar recently released a line of solid-colored, textures silk neckties that vaguely resemble grenadines. These aren’t true grenadines; they just somewhat look like them from a few feet away. Curious about the quality, I contacted Greg Shugar, one of the co-founders of the company, to see if he would be interested in sending me one for review. It arrived last month and I’ve worn it a few times since.
The tie is better than what one might expect. It compares well to the mass-manufactured neckties you might find in a department store – the Perry Ellises, Tommy Hilfigers, Calvin Kleins, and the like. To be sure, I don’t think any of these brands make particularly nice ties, but I appreciate that The Tie Bar has a bit more honest pricing - $15 for such a tie, rather than $50 in a department store, regularly discounted to $35, then $25, then $20, in hopes that customers think they’re getting a steal.
Obviously, a $15 tie will have its limitations. The grenafaux they sent me lacks the body on a truly, well-made tie, and the fabric has a slight sheen to it. It’s a bit light and flimsy, and not particularly enjoyable to knot. On the upside, the interlining is a wool-poly blend, which isn’t as ideal as a pure wool interlining, but at least it dimples better than a tie lined with polyester, and the wrinkles fall out a bit more easily at the end of the day.
It’s become a bit of a cliché, but I strongly believe in the “buy less, buy better” philosophy. Better one tie from EG Cappelli than three from Brooks Brothers, and better one from Brooks Brothers than three from Alfani. Men don’t need as much clothing as they think do, and if they traded many of their purchases for nicer things, I think they’d be left more satisfied. The most affordable grenadines I know of are from Chipp2 ($47.50) and The Knottery ($55). After that, there’s Kent Wang ($75), Sam Hober ($80), J Press ($90), Drake’s, Vanda, and EG Cappelli (~$120). I would feel more comfortable recommending any of these - or even a non-grenadine from a mid-tier maker - over The Tie Bar.
At the same time, I remember there was once a point in my life when I couldn’t afford a $50 necktie. It wasn’t that I was being stingy; it’s just that all my money went to rent, food, and my education. For people who on a truly tight budget, but still wish to dress well, I think The Tie Bar’s grenafux ties are an option. They’re not the best ties in the world, but I couldn’t say someone would look terrible for wearing one. As you can see above, it does indeed kind of look like a grenadine, and The Thrifty Gent wore one a few weeks ago and still looked pretty sharp. Plus, if you needed to skimp on your wardrobe, it would better to cut out $50 from your necktie wardrobe than, say, footwear. There, $50 could mean the difference between full-grain leather shoes and corrected grain, the latter of which you should never buy.
My standard recommendation for affordable neckties remains the same: Land’s End and Brooks Brothers once they hit their sales. They usually discount stuff to under $40 a few times a season. If you can’t afford those, try thrift stores or eBay. If you don’t have the time, however, then consider The Tie Bar’s grenafaux. I still believe people should buy the best they can afford – as they’ll be happier in the long run – but the same can be said about buying what you can afford, and not spending outside of your means.
(Pictured above, from left to right: The Tie Bar’s grenafaux, Drake’s navy grenadine, E.G. Cappelli blue grenadine)