Our precious ties are often put in precarious situations. Duff Watkins and Jean Woo have some tips on how to look after them.
Do you feel pain when your prized tie becomes stained? Are you attached to some ties more than others? Is your necktie your secret “blankie”? If so, join the club.
A tie is your sartorial signature and it’s worth every dollar and ounce of angst you spent on it. A good tie is like a good relationship: it lasts a lifetime, if cared for properly. So let’s see how we can make that relationship last.
When taking off your tie, always unknot it by reversing the knot. Do not unravel the knot by yanking hard on the small end of the tie. And don’t make the knot so tight that unknotting it becomes difficult.
• Don’t wad up your tie because you will twist and damage the lining inside.
• Roll up the tie from the narrow end first so that the label side is revealed. Then let it rest for a couple of days. This removes the wrinkles and de-stresses the fabric.
• Hang ties up on a rack designed for that purpose. Ties on hangers will slip and twist and often fall to the floor.
• Store ties out of the light to prevent fading.
• Snip any loose threads on your tie. Pulling them can cause major damage.
• Knitted or crocheted ties should be rolled and stored in a drawer.
General George Patton insisted his officers wear neckties even when at the battle front. His officers hated it but as all road warriors know, a man’s gotta wear what a man’s gotta wear. When travelling, utilise these methods to ensure that your neckties arrive in good shape.
• In a plane or car, fold the tie gently into four and slip it in the inside pocket of your suit jacket.
• In packing, roll your neckties and tuck them securely in the corners of your luggage.
• Or, roll ties loosely and place them inside a pair of socks (or better still, use a tie case).
• Upon arrival, hang the necktie on the lavatory door before you shower. The steam will do wonders for relaxing the fabric.
• Ironing is not recommended because it flattens the body and causes the material to shine. But if you must, cover the tie with a cotton cloth then iron it on a low setting. When ironing, ensure that the roll along the tie edge is not pressed flat.
Cleaning and conditioning
The absolute best way to clean your ties is to use a small hand steamer and gently steam away the wrinkles that usually form around the fabric where the knot is made. If you don’t have a steamer, simply hold your tie over a boiling pot of water (don’t let It touch the water) on the stove to steam out the wrinkles.
Despite what you may have heard, do not wash your ties. True, ties made of synthetic material might be washable, but ties react unevenly when washed in water due to the different shrinkage rates of the materials inside the tie. Besides, if it’s not an expensive silk tie, you might as well buy a new, better one.
The danger of dry-cleaning If you spill something on your suit you get it dry-cleaned, so why not your tie? Because it’s risky. Commercial cleaners typically press the tie and that flattens those wonderful rolled edges that give the tie texture. Also, pressing ties damages the inside “gum” of the tie and causes silk to lose its lustre. So if you live on the edge, dry-clean your ties. But be wise as well as bold and only entrust them to an experienced drycleaner.
Out, damned spot!
As Lady Macbeth discovered, some spots are hard to remove. Here’s how to remove those spots, stains and splatters on your silk ties:
• Let water spots dry and then rub briskly with the same fabric, such as the narrow end of the tie.
• For food stains, blot the area immediately then dip a clean cloth napkin in a little soda water and dab away what you can.
• For grease spots, sprinkle a little talc on the spot as soon as possible and allow it to absorb what it can. After a few hours, brush off the residue with a cloth.
• For hard-to-remove stains, hold the spot over the steam of a boiling kettle and apply cleaning fluid.
• You may not be able to remove all spots on a beautiful silk tie, but if you act fast and employ the tactics above, both you and your tie may survive the trauma.