Thin Ties have long been a staple of men’s fashion but are they becoming part of a bygone era?
In just one sentence — “We widened our ties by a quarter of an inch to keep up with today’s changing proportions” — J.Crew’s October catalogue prompted many pundits to pen eulogies for the skinny tie, which had reportedly met its demise. A couple of millimetres doesn’t sound like much but J.Crew are a notable predictor of tailoring standards, and sold a 2.5-inch tie for five years before this shift back to a width closer to three inches. Overnight, the skinny tie was pronounced dead. No more. Ceased to be. An ex-menswear trend.
A 2.75-inch tie is hardly a revival of the napkin-wide neckties of the 1980s and ‘90s but the change was more significant thank just an extra quarter-inch of fabric because it reverses a trend dating back to the turn of the millennium. Ties have generally shrunk since 2000, mirroring the drift towards ultra-slim suits that demanded slimmer ties, which absolutely must — MUST — not be wider than your lapel. This step towards bigger, healthier ties also reflects a trend towards still fitted but slightly larger suits, moving away from the boyish, ultra-skinny cuts of recent years.
Again, three-inch ties are hardly those enormous daggy golf ties your dad wore 30 years ago — it’s the middle ground between the wide 1980s style and the thin Reservoir Dogs favourite. J.Crew’s new width is what most of the industry had been running with anyway — the 2.5 inches they’d favoured since 2011 was at an edgier frontier — so this change is more of a tremor more than a full-blown earthquake.
Styles come and go in ebbs and flows but it’s likely that the pendulum of fashion won’t swing so severely between the skinny ties of the 1940s and the kite-wide span of the 1980s — particular styles won’t live and die like they have in the past because there’s more variety now, with designers producing a broader range for a variety of tastes. Skinny men will continue to opt for a thinner suit because of their proportions — and that demands a skinny tie (remember that golden lapel-to-tie ratio). But bigger blokes will enjoy the step back towards a healthier necktie, that pairs much better with their wide-lapelled suits.