While some of you may treasure your Michael Jackson Thriller Album and feel nostalgic when you hear Bonnie T. sing ‘A Total Eclipse of the Heart’, chances are you don’t want to look like a character from the film Wall Street (1987) or an American politician, when you put on a red tie.
Many men eschew the red tie because they don’t want to look ‘dated’ or caught in a time warp. Today, Juho shows us some examples of how to wear red-toned ties with a modern approach, applying a simple secret when wearing bolder colors.
— — —
The Burgundy Tie
Any burgundy accessory can prove to be a versatile menswear piece which works well in formal and casual combinations.
A simple rule when using bold colors for accessories is : avoid smooth, shiny fabrics and choose fabrics with texture (to add dimension to louder colors). Examples of how you may used tones of red with your accessories include, opting for grenadine and shantung ties, burgundy-edged linen pocket squares and burgundy scarves made of wool.
The dark and earthy tone of red is easier to approach (compared to bright red) and many menswear enthusiasts view the color burgundy as among the first to include in a wardrobe. Even the challenging combination of blues and burgundy can be entirely suitable for a regular day at the office during the colder seasons–if you train your eye to know what looks good and what doesn’t.
Personally, I love to mix burgundy with brown shades for suits, shoes, scarves and overcoats. The color brown can work wonders to calm and balance bold-colored accessories.
Wool cashmere coat from Ring Jacket (with a white House of Kydos linen pocket square), Berg & Berg wool scarf, Madova Firenze carpincho leather gloves, Linjer soft briefcase, Vaatturiliike Sauma handmade made-to-measure suit, Luxire mtm shirt with my collar design, vintage Armani jacquard tie from the 80s, Drake’s London wool silk blend pocket square, Albert Thurston braces, Jeeves socks and made-to-order Oxfords from Vass.
Some shy away from mixing blue with shades of red, as one can end up looking like a walking-patriotic-flag, but if you choose complementary shades of color, I believe you can mix blue and red with success.
The tie in question is an 80s vintage piece from Armani, one that I found from a nice vintage store in Florence. Although I have zero-love for such brands nowadays, I’m still drawn to their old designs and products.
Rarely do I switch my braces around with my ‘usual combinations’ with suit trousers, so I found it to be a nice surprise to see how well these braces worked with the outfit, when I decided to try something different. Notice how the faded yellow color in the tie and the braces bring continuity to the look.
My first pair of Vass shoes will soon turn two years in age. The leather has aged well with signs of a natural patina forming. The model itself has been a good year-round performer, and I’m still very fond of the Balmoral design.
The Red Tie
Common mistakes when wearing a red tie
The classic ‘power look’ of wearing a red silk tie with a navy suit, is not as easy to nail than many may think. This is especially true if one starts iterating and accessorizing with more than just a plain red tie and a white linen pocket square…The most common slip-up occurs with this culprit : a shiny red silk pocket square—an item that’s rarely in balance with any outfit (e.g., avoid emanating Trump-esque Brioni or Hermes silk ties with no or almost-no texture).
On the other hand, a grenadine tie, a subtle printed twill silk tie or a calming jacquard tie should add the texture needed to break up and soothe the bright color of red.
Ring Jacket wool coat, Berg & Berg Merino wool scarf, Madova Firenze carpincho gloves in espresso brown, Vaatturiliike Sauma handmade made-to-measure suit, bespoke jacquard silk tie by E&G Cappelli, limited edition wool modal pocket square by Drake’s London, made-to-measure shirt by Luxire, braces by Drake’s London, socks by Mazarin and made-to-order Oxford shoes by Vass Shoes.
A classic grey herringbone wool coat is a great option for any business look, and a white cashmere pocket square on the coat chest pocket is a subtle touch which can be included for a more casual look or left out for more formal occasions.
How to wear a red ‘power tie’
Many articles on fit and proportions have been written, so I won’t go into detail again. That said, it goes without saying that at least a fairly classic fit with classic proportions is a must when you want to achieve a respectable and professional look. This means forgetting about narrow lapels, a super high button stance on suit jackets and so on. A white shirt with a regular semi-spread collar is a reliable option, but a light blue shirt with other classic collar styles may work as well.
A dark red grenadine tie (both a small or larger weave will do) is easier to work with than lighter tones of red. In this outfit, I’ve selected a jacquard silk option which has a slight vintage feel. Lastly, a white linen pocket square is a reliable choice, and also the most formal option for a pocket square. If you wish to take more liberties with your square, choose something with a fresh white base color to pull together your white shirt with your square.
What knot to use with your red business tie?
Choosing and then tying your knot carefully is always an important detail on any outfit.
While knots are much a matter of personal taste, I’d like to suggest a half-Windsor knot, four-in-hand or a double four-in-hand knot. I always use a double four-in-hand, and if the occasion is very formal, as it often tends to be when bringing out a ‘power look’, I prefer a knot with one single dimple in the center.
A vintage red jacquard tie
If you’ve read my articles for a while, you know I’ve become attached to all things even slightly vintage over the last few years. The tie in this outfit happens to be a bespoke jacquard tie by Neapolitan tie-master Patrizio Cappelli.
Even if the tie is not actually vintage, I feel the design, the sheen of the silk and the woven flower pattern work perfectly together creating an ‘absolute piece’ for a serious work outfit. A funny detail in the tie is that the pattern is not centered–something I’d like to think was a bit of a miss in the making of the piece. Yet, this fact can’t help but add to the charm of an Italian bespoke item (something created just for you, by hand).
If the occasion is very formal, the best option for shoes is a pair of black toe cap Oxfords.
Yet in this case, I’ve selected a pair of dark brown Oxfords from Vass Shoes. A dark brown pair of Oxfords works well if you’re dressing for a more regular day at work. The brown color can direct your outfit into a more casual or formal direction, just as selecting a pocket square with a subtle pattern (casual) or a plain pattern (formal) can do so.
Finally, taking the time to make sure your shoes are least clean and well-polished goes a long way to polish your overall look.
The true ‘power look’ is about coherence and harmony (and today, is a far cry from the Wall Street depiction of oversized suits, over-starched white shirts, and smooth, shiny red ties).
If you put quality first, and make sure components work well together, with roughly the same level of formality, then you should develop a knack for building great ensembles.
Yet, if you’re not sure about something, simply stick to the basics if the stakes are higher than usual, in order to be sure to make a good impression.
— — —
More on my sartorial adventures on The Nordic Fit.