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“It’s all downhill from here,” my uncle lamented over dinner at the 21 Club. It was around 2009, and the hallowed restaurant, then one of New York’s last to require a coat and tie, had loosened its dress code. I was determined to not let it spoil the evening, but as far as he was concerned, even the chicken hash didn’t taste quite the same. 21 closed in 2021, presumably a casualty of the pandemic—but who can really be sure?
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These days, when seemingly anything goes, even the term “dress code” feels archaic. But for centuries, neckties were one of the few ways men could express themselves sartorially. The first known documentation dates back to the mid-17th century, when Croatian mercenaries, who served in France during the 30 Years War, held the tops of their jackets together with knotted neckerchiefs. King Louis XIV took a shine to the style, promptly propelling the accessory (dubbed “La Croate” and later “la cravate”) from a jaunty utilitarian item to the height of fashion. It became an instant status symbol.
Throughout the years, shirting and knot styles evolved around the growing variety of cravats, bandanas, and scarves. So much so that in 1818, a satirical pamphlet called Neckclothitania was published as a sort of etiquette guide to knotting techniques. By the early 20th century, New York tailor Jesse Langsdorf stitched together three bias-cut pieces of fabric, thus creating the standard necktie we know today. Storied shirtmakers, many of which hold royal warrants, quickly adopted the style, followed by fashion brands.
Now, there’s a slew of tie options available from a great number of labels. Most offer a range, from different materials to a variety of colors and patterns, but the best tie brands, the ones on this list, have a distinct signature, a quality that makes them a cut above the rest. They understand the power behind the accessory, how in certain contexts (namely within the finance world) the choice of tie can be a direct reflection of status.
The idea of dress codes may have waned, yes, but there’s still a time and place to wear a tie. Whether you’re in the market for a bow tie (do yourself a favor and learn how to tie one this week) for a soirée, something professional for the office, or something appropriate for dinner with a traditionalist uncle, you can’t go wrong with any of pieces offered from the best tie brands below.
The ultimate lifestyle brand, it’s easy to forget that Ralph Lauren’s empire began with its founder making ties (and his wife, Ricky, sewing the labels on by hand). Shirting and suiting soon followed, and the rest is fashion history, with the brand worn by the most famous gents on the streets and silver screen. Though the famous shirt tossing scene in The Great Gatsby involved Turnbull & Asser, Lauren did provide the majority of the costumes for the 1974 classic starring Robert Redford. This polka-dot silk number is perfect for channeling your inner dandy.
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Founded in 1838, Charvet is a Parisian institution known for outfitting royalty and U.S. presidents with the finest shirting and ties (and pajamas and dressing gowns par excellence). Though only a fraction of the range can be found online, a pilgrimage to the firm’s Place Vendome flagship is a must—but prepare to be overwhelmed (in the best way) with the extensive offerings.
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In the menswear world, upgrading to bespoke shirting is a real right of passage—and Turnbull & Asser is as good as it gets. Founded in London in 1885, the royal warrant holder (the brand also designed Churchill’s siren suit) is equally renowned in the neckwear department, offering some of the best ties around. Whether you’re in search of a classic paisley or stipe or something more adventurous, T&A really has it all. We love this sleek silk tie, a design worn by none other than 007.
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Renowned for its artistic scarves with hand-rolled edges, the French luxury leather goods house puts an equal amount of effort into its silk wares for men. From subtle logos to more whimsical designs, there’s truly something to suit any style. This rocket ship number is especially perfect for finance types (or any executive, for that matter) looking to make an impression.
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Founded in 1906, the Savile Row tailor to King Charles III is also a tremendous resource for knitwear, socks, and ties, whether or not you’re in the market for a bespoke suit. The knitted tie is an undisputed classic, one the brand offers not just in silk but also cashmere.
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You’ve already got the loafers. The tie should be a no-brainer. As with everything bearing the Ferragamo name, this classic is made in Italy and features a subtle Gancini motif, the house’s iconic symbol. It’s subtle, but packs just the right amount of punch to really impress colleagues, guests, or anyone in close proximity.
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Brooks Brothers, the preppy mainstay founded in 1818, is perhaps best known for its offering of striped ties. While more a matter of taste these days, these particular designs grew from regimental stripes and saw gentleman’s clubs and private schools develop their own signature weaves as a subtle calling card. Heritage aside, Brooks Brothers now offers so much more, including this linen tie printed with floral medallions, its color palette and fabric ideal with khakis or a linen suit.
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On any red carpet, at any glittering ball, at any black-tie event, essentially, Tom Ford’s tuxedos stand out. This is thanks, in large part, to the designer’s stance on neckwear: the bigger, the better. Case in point: This outsized bow tie that will add a touch of vintage flair to any evening ensemble. But if you’re looking for something more everyday, the brand also offers an elegant collection of silk and velvet options.
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Few designers have made such an impact on menswear in recent fashion history as Thom Browne. It’s of little surprise that Browne, known for his affinity for gray flannel, shrunken tailoring with an often midcentury lean, and, of course, those shorts, would favor slim-cut ties—the better to match those narrow lapels. We love this versatile little number because it’s iconically Browne and features the designer’s subtle red, white, and blue logo placed on the diagonal in a playful and egalitarian nod to repp-stripe ties.
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Founded in 1875 by Arthur Liberty, the son of a Buckinghamshire draper, Liberty of London quickly became known for its floral print fabrics. Headed to Ascot or the Chelsea Flower Show? Show up in full bloom in these beloved florals.
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