Thursday, February 9, 2017

An Abridged Field Guide to Regimental Ties - An Endangered Species


Having witnessed the rapid and broad demise of the custom of wearing of ties both in the United States, as well as abroad (the exception appearing to be news and sports broadcasters), this “curmudgeon” thought an article on the endangered species of British Regimental ties (at least here in the “colonies”) might prove both interesting and worthy of historical note as a future archive.

With full acknowledgement and gratitude to Simona Riva, here is an excerpt from a brief article she has written relating the evolution of the Regimental Tie:

                 “The striped tie enters the male wardrobe in the ‘20s, it was an immediate success as it introduced an idea of simplicity and naturalness: the stripes aren’t drawn but woven with different coloured threads. The stripes have an inclination of 45° exactly as the reverse of the jacket.

            In Britain, however, the striped tie has a particular story: here the regimental tie was born, precisely in the military environment in which each regiment had a specific tie and each brigade was represented by stripes of a certain color and width.

            In the time of peace people continued wearing their regiment tie and this tradition made British elegance famous in the world.

            In 1919 the Prince of Wales, the future Duke of Windsor (An editorial note: Also as Edward VIII, the King of Great Britain and the Commonwealth for about a year before abdicating), made his first official trip to the US and on that occasion wore a tie with red and blue stripes belonging to the Grenadier Guards, the regiment in which he served during the war. Immediately American journalists noticed him and the fashion of regimental ties exploded.

            Actually the stripes mean the membership not just of military regiments but also to prestigious clubs or colleges and universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Wearing a tie with the colors of an institution to which you do not belong is still considered offensive and means bad manners in Britain.

            A feature to distinguish American ties (Repp stripe ties) from English ones (British  regimental ties) is the orientation of the stripes : as you can see from the image above, the original British regimental draw the stripes from left to right, unlike the American ones in which the lines descend from right to left. (An editorial observation, this is not universally true, as can be seen from the charts below.)

            By tradition it’s said that American people wanted to enjoy this accessory without offending English gentlemen and didn’t want to be accused of being rude; but there is another explanation: Americans craftsmen cut ties putting the right side of the fabric on the work surface and the reverse side facing towards them, in contrast to the usual practice, thus obtaining a tie with the rows oriented in the opposite direction.

            The ties that we can buy in Italy as in the rest of Europe, while not corresponding to the membership of any club or regiment, however, require adherence to a few simple style rules.

            When wearing the regimental tie?

            Traditionally reserved for informal occasions, it is perfect at the weekend if you attend clubs or sports clubs, but it is also indicated during the week for business meetings. To avoid, with rare exceptions, at an elegant evening dinner and absolutely prohibited for ceremonies.”

Although not comprehensive the following series of charts (with both acknowledgement and gratitude to Stephen Allen Menswear) depict an array of some of the most common regimental ties.








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