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Gentleman

Why I suck at buying ties (and I imagine you too)

Dear reader,

Ties are more tricky than they appear.

They’re incredibly hard to wear in turn. The occasion always seems to call for the same ties. I guess they too follow a Pareto distribution.

So you end up owning dozens of ties which seemed “wearable” and not too extravagant when you bought them. But a year later, you’ve worn once or twice. It’s the worst case scenario of cost per wear. 

But wait, it gets worse.

The frustration of never quite having the right tie

Everyday I envision myself wearing a certain tie. However, when I browse through my thirty or so ties, I never quite seem to have the right one. So I default to one that is good enough (just not great). And it generally is one that I’ve been wearing over and over.

My initial reaction is “you need to acquire those ties you envisioned rather than accumulates ones that never get worn”.

Obviously, it’s becoming difficult to justify buying more ties, since I end up wearing so few of the ones I own.

When I go through my clothes once a year (to get rid of the ones I don’t use), I have a hard time with ties. Auditing them individually, they all seem to be ideal for a specific occasion. “This one is ideal for formal weekend in the countryside in autumn”. “That one is perfect for a chic summer wedding in France”. “This one is for a fancy venitian carnival ball”. But these occasions rarely happen more than once a year.

As a teenager, I belonged to a French rallye — an upper class society with themed balls every month. But even then, I rarely had the right tie for the theme. So I ended up buying ties I would wear… once.

I guess it has to do with the sheer variety of colours, patterns, textures and widths among ties. You don’t find that kind of range with shirts and suits.

Ties reveal what it feels like to be a woman

It happened to me often that the tie had the right colour, width and pattern when I bought it. I even thought to myself : “finally I tie I am actually going to wear!”. But when actually tying it, it looked off, because the tie’s internal structure was bad.

And it doesn’t matter how much money you put in it. Hermès ties are notorious for loosening up during wear. That’s actually become a way to tell them apart. If it has small patterns and it doesn’t hold up, it’s an Hermès tie.

And since I don’t buy ties every month, it will take decades to explore the tie market to know which tiemaker offers an adequate tie.

In comparison, it took me just a couple of years to explore the shirt market and know where to buy what. But with ties, it’s infinitely more complicated.

If I may, ties give us an insight of what it is to be a woman: the sheer diversity of styles, patterns, colours… the difficulty to know what’s what… the temptation to always buy more, and perhaps the impossibility for a sophisticated woman to have a small and tidy wardrobe.

Best regards,

Edward

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