30 November 2011

The Perfect Casual Tie

A tie, despite what the world in general may think today, is not always a dressy thing. A knit tie and button down collar is a great way to look put together and casual at the same time. I recently acquired what I think may be perfect casual knit tie:
Navy blue, the stripes end before the knot, a nice touch. While my shirt is pressed, I opted for no starch in the interest of softness. A tweed jacket, khakis and tassel loafers finish the job.
Vintage 1960s wool and mohair "Heathernit" by Rooster. Rooster was the maker of choice for square end knit ties in their day, a great brand to look for at the thrift shops. $1.99.
p.s. the Shop is brimming with new goods, including shoes, tweed jackets, flannel trousers, leather, suede, and a ton of ties. Check out the new "Most recent items" feature in the side bar for a quick look.


Jim said...

Nice tie. It seems insane to me that people actually spend $50 on ties at Macy's when there are so many available at thrift stores for $2-3. Only problem I've had is that some vintage ties are too short for me (I guess because people were shorter back in the day, and wore their pants at their natural waist). I just wear them under sweaters and no one knows.

It seems like a waste of time to press an oxford shirt. I just take them out of the dryer when they're a little damp, hang 'em up and forget about them. Most of the wrinkles come out on their own, but it's going to get wrinkled anyways and that's just part of the charm.

Giuseppe said...

Shirts in the dryer!?!? We have to talk....

Mensfit said...

Truthfully, I used to spend so much time ironing, I started pretending it was 'therapy'. Then one day, late for work I threw on a shirt that I had hung straight from the washer....haven't been back to 'therapy' since.

Pigtown*Design said...

Jim... a good way to get some of th wrinkles out of a shirt, is to give it a good snap/shake before you hang it.

'Seppi... I remember that my dad had a whole collection of Rooster ties. Of course, he was in PR at that point. had to look the part.

Mensfit... I agree that ironing is therapy. Epsecially lovely linen napkins.

Old School said...


I fully agree that the dryer is no place for shirts. There will be shrinkage, particularly in the neck, each time and even millimetric shrinkage eventually will make the collar uncomfortably tight.

Which bring us to the subject of ironing a shirt. It would be interesting to hear different readers' approach to this matter. I would like to start the ball rolling, with your permission:

Foolproof sequence for ironing a shirt:

Before I went away to college in 1961, my mother told me in no uncertain terms that this was the way to do it. I have followed her instructions to the letter since then.

Collar, yoke, cuffs, sleeves, right front panel, back, left front panel:

1. Start with the collar. (If you finish with the collar, you will crease the upper halves of the right and left front panels of the shirt and have to touch them up.)
2. Iron the yoke.
3. Iron both cuffs.
4. Iron the sleeves. (If you finish with the sleeves, you will crease the upper halves of the right and left front panels of the shirt and have to touch them up.)
5. Iron the right front panel
6. Iron the back.
7. Iron the left front panel.
8. Fasten the top and third buttons, and leave the shirt to cool and air. This will allow the final vestige of moisture to evaporate and prevent creasing.

Andrew said...

Those Rooster knits are cash money! I have quite a few in that 65 mohair/35 wool combo, but none with such tasteful stripes. Years of indiscriminate thrifting have left me with a crazy surplus of neckties. These days, quality roosternits, Robert Talbott foulards, and bow ties are the only things that really turn my head on the tie rack. I go to school in Tuscaloosa, AL, and the thrift shops here are brimming with ballin Robert Talbott ties made for the old school local men's shops. Do you have any thoughts on those old Robert Talbott ties?

David V said...

Rooster ties are one of the many items thrift stores do not understand are worth more than things with "Designer" labels.

Old School: I follow almost the exact same procedure except that I leave the back for last. I also only use the wide end of the board.

Anonymous said...

crapola - no wonder my shirts don't fit.

Anonymous said...

Old School-
Someone else who's interested in ironing strategy as well. Finally.

After my grandma wouldnt reveal her secrets to me, I ended up watching some videos on YouTube, and this is my method:
Sleeves & Cuff
Right Front (Going up and to the right, to protect the pocket)
Left Front (Going down and to the left, to protect the extra fabric around the button holes. If this side has a pocket, iron that section up and to the right)

I use a little starch from a can- Faultless Heavy Starch Lavender Scent, which is like $3 at Target and lasts forever. A little sprinkle of water on the shirt can help too.

I always air dry my button up shirts, and usually most of my clothes as well. Laundry Day is usually followed by Damp Clothes Hanging Everywhere Weekend in my tiny apartment.

PigTown- I like the snap/shake idea. I will try it next go around.

Roger v.d. Velde said...

It would be nice to be able iron my shirts when they're all damp after washday (soaked and washed by hand btw. [i]That's[/i] therapy). So it's the spray bottle of water that I find indispensable.

Starching every time seems like not a good idea. It builds up on the sole plate and seems to dull shirts. I leave it out sometimes.
Definitely collar/cuffs first, then button the collar to help you control it on the board. Though I use a massive board to stop trousers dragging on the floor.

For those who don't swear by ironing, there's no stress in only ironing the collar and cuffs. If it's covered by a sweater or jacket those parts that show and will at least look crisp.

Midwest Trad said...

I find that on most of my oxfords, collar and cuffs are all that need ironing - at least when collar/cuffs are lined. Otherwise, I find the wrinkles essentially come out on their own.

Giuseppe said...

Un-ironed oxfords are fine worn with jeans and a Barbour to a flea market on Sunday morning. But I'm going to have to be a stickler otherwise. If you're going to wear a jacket and tie, I think your shirt should be pressed.

Old School said...

@ David V
@ Anonymous December 1, 2011 2:10 PM

David V's suggestion about using the wide end of the board was something I had never thought of doing. It's a great idea.

Anonymous's suggestion about ironing the back before the right and left front panels was also an improvement on my method: It prevents any creasing of the right front while the back is being ironed.

Regimental Stripe said...

Gentilissimo Signore,

Last year you shared an old Lands' End essay on the pleasure of ironing a fine cotton shirt. This seems to be the time and the place to share the link again:


oxford cloth button down said...

That is a great tie. I have picked up a two cotton Rooster ties at thrift stores that I like very much.

Old School said...

@Regimental Stripe:

The link didn't work.

Here's the text from the May 1987 LE catalog:

The Pleasure of Ironing a Fine Cotton Shirt.
by Roy Earnshaw

My wife is still asleep. I've exercised (quietly), showered, eaten breakfast. Now comes time for a familiar early morning ritual.

I take a cotton dress shirt from the closet, a wrinkled cotton dress shirt, shrug it off its hanger, and drape it over the ironing board.

Some men might smirk at the sight of me preparing to iron. "What? You iron your own shirts? John Wayne never would've!"

Well, call me a pantywaist, but I happen to enjoy it.

I plug in the iron, check the water level, turn the setting to — what else — cotton. Then pause for a few moments to let it get hot.

The room where I iron is a barren one. No furniture, just the ironing board. A "room we haven't figured out what to do with yet," having just recently bought this house. I suppose one day it will fill up with things, but right now I like it this way. Its spartan aspect seems well suited to the art of ironing.

I start with the left sleeve, first spritzing on water with a sprayer, then ironing it so flat, it almost looks as if I could pick it up and slice bread with it.

I turn it over, do the other side, then the cuff. Then on to the other sleeve, while the ironed one dangles just above the dusty wood floor.

(My wife tells me my technique is all wrong, but then so did my golf coach, my typing teacher, other authority figures. I take a perverse pleasure in doing things my own incorrect way.)

Now the back yoke, and a couple swipes at the collar. The easy parts. And then I sweep the shirt up off the board and down again, with its back spread out flat before me.

Sometimes I botch the back pleat, and have to do it two or three times. But no one is watching.

The ironing board cover bothers me. It's a cheap one, full of childish flowers in jarring hues. Orange. Chartreuse. Purple. The colors of fast food restaurants. I miss the plain white one my mother used to have, with its humble dignity and burn smudges.

I press on. (No letters please — bad puns harm no one.) The cotton cloth is soft, sturdy in my fingers, and responsive to the iron. I swear, it enjoys being ironed! Almost seems to purr. It has a wonderful, tightly-woven texture to it, and glistens with the heat of the iron, and the soft light of the room.

Again I sweep the shirt up off the board, and down again, to do the right front, skating in and out around the buttons, then the left, using plenty of water and going over the stubborn placket again and again, bearing down, until it finally yields and becomes flat, neat. I am finished.

Now, the final pleasure of slipping into the toasty shirt. Especially keen now, in the February cool of the house. It almost crackles as I button it up, tuck it in.

The finches in the back room start to peep as first light looks in the windows. Time for me to go. But I leave with a sense of contentment, knowing that whatever large debacles or small frustrations await me, I have at least done one small piece of good work today.

Young Fogey said...

I have discovered that spraying starch on all the areas I will iron first, and letting it soak in a bit before ironing, makes ironing easier, with fewer scorches (which can normally only be remedied by washing).

Due to my time-consuming technique, and the fact that I seldom remove my jacket, I no longer iron the back. Besides, by the time I might remove my jacket, the post-wash wrinkles are nearly all gone, and the wrinkles from wearing are more prominent.

Orthodox Trad said...

For those who think that ironing only collars and cuffs is acceptable behavior, why bother to tie your necktie?

How to Take Off a Tie to Use Again

Take the time to tie a perfect knot the first time since you'll be using the same knot repeatedly. Make it a little tighter than usual to accommodate the number of times you'll be sliding it on and off.
Remove the tie in the same manner that you usually do at the end of the day, grasping the knot and slipping it down the narrow end of the tie. Instead of slipping it all the way off, however, only pull the knot down until the "hole" is big enough to slip over your head.
Store the tie "as is" so you'll be able to put it back on without re-tying it. To do so, simply pull it over your head, slip it under your shirt collar, grasp the knot with one hand and hold the narrow portion in back with the other. Wiggle the knot back up the tie and into place.

Patrick said...

On the ironing front — i use sizing rather than starch. It's easier to work with.

On Roosters — I find them all the time, ignored and passed over in favor of a Jerry Garcia with a bong water stain.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Yes, Ironing .... Such a big divide here among people who love clothes and those who merely wear them.

I have always ironed shirts, but used to kind or resent the time it took, which honestly isnt all that long, but now to keep that in check, I always have a few ironed already that I can put on and wear in an emergency.

Generally, I rather like to iron the shirt I am wearing the morning I wear it, time allowing; it just a part of getting ready for the day, and I enjoy the process.

I am not all that particular about the order, although I realize that some orders are more efficient than others. I use a combination of steam and dry ironing off and on during the process. If the shirt is heavily wrinkled, steam helps it to go smoother, and then I usually turn it off again.

The one tip that I use, and I am not sure I have ever seen it written down, but it makes perfect sense to me, is concerning the starching. I like a bit, just a bit, on certain parts of certain shirts. The key to this working very well is to iron the opposite side of the shirt from that which you are ironing. This way you eliminate the buildup of starch on your iron, eliminate the possible scorching, as well as the sometimes streaky shine that may occur.

Try it, and I think you will find it an improvement. And if you forget and spray the front side, dont despair, simply iron the inside of the shirt, on most parts it works just as well.

Happy Ironing.