Necktie Anatomy: The Classic Tie Deconstructed Understand how they're made and you'll appreciate quality when you see it
The necktie we know and love today has been around for more than 150 years. From the hand-painted ties of post-WWI to the wild and wide ties of the 1940’s, to the skinny ties of the late 1970’s, the necktie has remained a constant staple of men’s fashion. Though countless men have sported this timeless accessory, not many are true connoisseurs. The craft and care required to create a quality necktie are a lot more involved than you might imagine at first glance. Do you know all the parts that make up a great men’s tie?
The shell, also known as the envelope, is the outermost fabric of a tie. Most neckties are made of one or more of the following fibers: silk, wool, cotton, linen, polyester, or microfiber. Typically the tighter the fabric’s weave, the less the tie will snag and fray.
Generally, a tie should be cut on the “true bias” of the fabric. This means that it will be cut at a 45-degree angle, ensuring that the tie lays flat when worn and stays generally wrinkle-free. Before the method of cutting on the true bias was used, ties would twist and lose their shape after extended wear. Depending on the manufacturer, the shell will either be folded or cut into the shape of the tie.
The four-in-hand method of constructing a tie consists of three to four separate pieces of shell that is then sewn into the shape of the tie. Because of their simplistic construction method, these multi-piece ties are the most common.
Six & Seven Fold Ties
As opposed to constructing a tie from multiple pieces, folded ties are constructed from a single piece of shell. This method adds a handcrafted touch that requires a lengthy construction process. Though the number of folds that comprise the tie can vary, the seven-fold tie is the most popular. A seven-fold tie requires a seasoned artisan that is well versed in pattern making, sewing, and folding. Because of the amount of fabric that is used in this method of construction, there is no lining and the tie is able to hold its shape just by the shell alone.
Interlining, or interfacing, is used in nearly all neckties—an exception being the six & seven fold variety. It is hidden between the layers of the ties outer shell. Interlining helps create and maintain the shape of the tie and adds extra bulk and weight. Though weights vary, the lining is often made of a brushed wool blend to give ties a fuller shape. Because less shell fabric is required when interlining is used, the total cost of the necktie is significantly reduced. Manufacturers of cheap neckwear often skimp on the interlining resulting in ties that are either paper thin or stiff as a board.
There are three methods to finishing tips: un-tipped, self-tipped, and decorative tipping. Un-tipped ends forego the addition of a finishing fabric and instead expose the hem on the back of the tie. Un-tipped ties have a finished hem, so although they are un-tipped, they don’t look unfinished. Interlining on un-tipped ties is generally placed higher within the neck of the tie to avoid being exposed. A self-tipped tie is finished on the backside with the same fabric as the self of the tie. Whether the tie is folded or cut, the tip will be cut as a separate piece to then be sewn on. Decorative tipping uses a different fabric than the rest of the tie. This tipping is commonly a solid color but can be just about anything from funky patterns to vintage pin-up girls a la Peek-a-Boo neckties.
The Rolled Edge
The edge of a necktie is rolled and pressed. This ensures a fullness at the edge as opposed to a flat crease.
Along the back of the tie, holding the tie together, there is a hidden stitch called a slip-stitch. It goes in and out of the center without being exposed at the surface.
The Keeper Loop
The self-loop, or “keeper loop”, is the loop that holds the tie tail. On most ties, the manufacturer will include two loops: the actual loop and a label that doubles as one.
The Bar Tack
Near each tip, one will find a short horizontal stitch. This stitch is called the bar tack. It is the end of the slip stitch which is stitched over once or several times to secure the closure, making sure the tie doesn’t come undone.
Care & Origin Tag
These tags contain details and information about a necktie. This may include country of origin, materials, and care instructions.
The Slip Knot
On the more expensive handmade ties there will sometimes be a loop — a slip knot— which peaks out from the blade tip. With wear, and years of tying and untying, a tie will stretch. The slip knot allows the wearer to adjust the tension as the tie ages, returning its original shape and thus expanding its lifetime.
Tie it Together
When it comes to construction, not all neckties are created equal. With this new appreciation of a neckties finer details, you can make an educated choice when making your next necktie purchase. Pair your new tie with your favorite tie knot, and wear it knowing you are a true authority on the matter.