About Styleforum Editors

The Styleforum editors are a group of gnomes that actually do all of the work running Styleforum. Ari, and Jasper play air hockey, drink artisanal iced teas, and debate whether it's harder to get bolognese or bechamel out of grenadine ties, and whether either can be used to polish shoes.


Memorial Day sales will not be the same this year, and neither will our shopping. The current health crisis has profoundly altered both the ability and the desire of people to buy fashion items.
As usual, we are here to help you make the best decision on how to spend your hard-earned dollars – starting from a list of brands and shops that are offering never-seen-before markdowns. 
Shop mindfully.

Continue reading

The Basics of Wedding Attire for Men: American and English Weddings

In America, the most common wedding attire for a groom is either a lounge suit or a tuxedo.

The Jacket
If you decide to get married in a tuxedo, the most flattering and traditional choice is to select a 1 button jacket with a peak lapel. The facings (lapels) should be in silk, but in most cases, satin will also be suitable.
Tuxes can come in 2, 3 or even 4 button form, but on the whole, they look far too much like suits. The same can be said about notch-lapels; if you are going to wear a tux, then do it right. Peak lapels are the ones that point upwards, like the peaks of mountains.

The Trousers
Trouser for a tuxedo should be in a fabric that matches the jacket. When you see people in a green jacket and black trousers, they are actually wearing a smoking jacket, not a tux. Trousers should have a stripe of material down the outside of each leg made from the same stuff that your lapel is made from –be it silk or satin.

The Tie should always be a bow-tie. Although many Hollywood stars like to wear neckties or cravats, they should be largely ignored. Unless you are arriving in a helicopter and have a few superstars in attendance, just keep it simple. A black bowtie made from satin or barathea (a matte type of silk) that is self-tie. Resist the clip on! Taking that extra minute or so to tie a bowtie by hand makes all the difference and helps retains some personality in the knot.

The Pocket Square
It should be simple white to match the shirt. Straight line fold, triangles, and multiple points are all acceptable. Think James Bond.

Cufflinks and Studs
Gold, Black, Silver, Onyx. Anything you like, just make sure that they match each other and your watch. Mixing metals can be tricky and is generally best avoided. Having said that, don’t think that you can’t wear your grandfather’s gold war-watch because your wedding band is in platinum. When it comes to weddings, items of sentimental value trump the rules every time.

Shoes should be black patent lace-ups or if you want a pair you can use every day afterward then pick up a wholecut or cap-toe in black from a decent maker. Remember to wear them a few times before the big day, nothing is worse than walking around with blisters!

wedding attire wedding tuxedo tux styleforum example

SF member Newcomer via the Official Wedding Attire thread.

There are two ways in which you can approach choosing a suit for your wedding: pick a cloth that is very different from something you wear at the office, so that you don’t feel like you’re going to work, OR pick a suit that you can wear many hundreds of times after you get married, in order to be financially prudent.
Only you can make that kind of decision, but on the whole, there are some guidelines:
Pick sensible colors. While you may love the look of the brown suit today, how will it look when you show the kids your wedding photos? Greys, Navy, and Charcoals are going to stand the test of time better than that sky-blue velvet number you had your heart on.
Two button suits are most proportionate on gentlemen under 6 foot in height. Once you hit the 6ft mark, you can use the 2 button suit to make you appear slimmer and taller, or a 3 button to bring you back into proportion. Generally, a big, tall man in a 3 button suit, looks similar to a normal man in a 2 button suit.
Shoes can be black or brown, but make sure that they are highly polished and worn a few times before the big day. I cannot overstate the importance of breaking in your shoes before you want them used.

wedding attire guests appropriate styleforum

SF member and contributor Mossrockss via the Official Wedding Attire thread.

Rule one is always wear a suit. While some guests may turn up in a polo shirt and khakis, you can always ditch your tie for a bit of James Bond flair. Any outfit can be made more casual, but you can’t magic up a tie when you’re the one who’s underdressed.
Blue, Grey, and Brown are all acceptable. Two-button without a waistcoat is more modern, but stepping up to a three-piece can be a nice way to formalize the affair.
Never wear a black suit. Black is a funeral color and most definitely not welcome at weddings.
Ties and pocket squares should complement each other and also complement your date’s outfit, or if you would rather pick out a color of the wedding theme this is permitted as well. Shirts should be light blue, pink or white. Firstly this makes everyone look a little happier by using high-key colors, but also because weddings often mean standing around in the sun or in hot rooms. Sweat patches don’t show of light colors but spread heavily on dark.
Shoes should be black unless you are wearing a very light color of suit, in which case tan may be acceptable.

When it comes to wedding attire, English grooms have the choice of wearing a morning suit (most formal) or a lounge suit.

The morning suit is the most formal attire in use for weddings in the UK and Europe, and even now only represents a very small minority of cases. If Your invitation states “Morning Dress” or some variation thereof then you should consider a suit to a last resort.

The Coat
Morning coats are scarce in the UK so you are limited to Bespoke or a few OTR stores. The coat should be charcoal and made from wool where ever possible. If you are renting then this may not be possible, but do your best.

The Trousers
The trousers of a morning suit should be black with charcoal or chalk stripes known as “cashmere stripes”. This is one of the rare occasions on which matching the trousers to the cloth of the coat is considered wrong. There should be a distinct difference. The cut can be slightly fuller than your normal “slim” trousers; there has never been such a thing as a slim-fit morning suit.

The tie should be a satin in pastel colors; pink blue and peach are popular choices. Handkerchiefs can co-ordinate or consider a white linen version if you prefer a more classic look.
Shirts should be white. I would choose a poplin, although still is nicer to touch, it is also thicker and therefore warmer. A morning coat stays closed at all times so you might get a little warm.

Cufflinks and Studs
Gold, Black, Silver, Onyx. Anything you like, just make sure that they match each other and your watch. Mixing metals can be tricky and is generally best avoided. Having said that, don’t think that you can’t wear your grandfather’s gold war-watch because your wedding band is in platinum. When it comes to weddings, items of sentimental value trump the rules every time.

They should always be black and as plain as you can find. Do I need to say it again? Wear them at least three times before the big day, blisters aren’t cool.

**Note**  This is section is the same as the American version. Reading it twice will be boring.

There are two ways in which you can approach choosing a suit for your wedding: pick a cloth that is very different from something you wear at the office, so that you don’t feel like you’re going to work, OR pick a suit that you can wear many hundreds of times after you get married, in order to be financially prudent.
Only you can make that kind of decision, but on the whole, there are some guidelines:
Pick sensible colors. While you may love the look of the brown suit today, how will it look when you show the kids your wedding photos? Greys, Navy, and Charcoals are going to stand the test of time better than that sky-blue velvet number you had your heart on.
Two-button suits are most proportionate on gentlemen under 6 foot in height. Once you hit the 6ft mark, you can use the 2 button suit to make you appear slimmer and taller, or a 3 button to bring you back into proportion. Generally, a big, tall man in a 3 button suit, looks similar to a normal man in a 2 button suit.
Shoes can be black or brown, but make sure that they are highly polished and worn a few times before the big day. I cannot overstate the importance of breaking in your shoes before you want them used.

If you’d like to discuss the state of black tie, join the conversation on this thread on Styleforum.

If you’d like suggestions and tips regarding your wedding outfit, you can visit the Official Wedding Attire thread.

This article is an edited and revamped version of an article originally published on September 16, 2011, on Styleforum.net by the user Blackhood. 

Pitti Uomo 93 – Day 3 & 4

It seemed like Peter Zottolo (@urbancomposition) would have never reached Mediterranean soil, after being stuck in America (first) and the Old Blighty (then) due to inclement weather and air traffic conditions; however, in the end, our hero did arrive in the Promised Land aka the Fortezza da Basso, and these are his first shots from the opulent carnival known as Pitti Uomo.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Women in Menswear: Dalila Palumbo

Dalila Palumbo is a young Italian designer with a very peculiar style. We spotted her during our last visit at Pitti Uomo, and we couldn’t stop taking pictures of her menswear-inspired outfits.
We asked Dalila to talk about her relationship with menswear and the sartorial world, which inspire her both on a personal level and for her work with her brand Isabel Pabo.

Styleforum: Dalila, we’ve seen you at Pitti Uomo with many personalities of the menswear world; what does Pitti represent to you, as a young designer?

Dalila Palumbo: In the past few years, Pitti Uomo in Florence, besides being a spotlight for important brands and for the menswear fashion system as a whole, has been a place for people of the fashion industry to connect. Young designers, like myself, and artists from all over the world get together to share their ideas and experience, while promoting their own idea of fashion (either for males or females) through what is known as “streetstyle”. Two years ago I decided to join this experience, and I timidly made an appearance at Pitti wearing a menswear creation from my brand Isabel Pabo. I received a lot of compliments from photographers, bloggers, and fashion insiders, and I made new friends as well as work connections. After this first experience at Pitti – which I call “not-just-Uomo”- the trade show has become an important part of my job in preparation for both AW and SS collections, as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

SF: What do you think of where menswear stands today – and in particular of the re-birth of sartorial and artisanal brands – compared to the evolution of women’s fashion?

DP: Despite being restricted by cultural standards and market demands for many years, menswear seems to be finally blossoming into something new, especially thanks to the re-discovery of sartorial and artisanal techniques blended with innovative projects and styles. Something similar is happening in women’s fashion, although on a much smaller scale due to the greater visibility that women’s clothes have received throughout the years. We owe this change to young designers who have been trying to offer unique options that would suit everyone.

SF: One of the biggest differences between menswear and womenswear is the attention paid to the cut and fit of the clothes – something that on a sartorial level is almost as important as the style of the garments. The concept of “su misura” is basically non-existent in womenswear. What is the reason why women apparently don’t care about this aspect?

DP: The realization of a sartorial garment for men requires following specific rules and a rigid pattern that can be easily manipulated and altered in the creation of a garment for women – as the style is more variegated. I agree that “su misura” is a relatively unknown concept in “everyday” fashion for women. However, if we talk about an important piece linked to a specific occasion, things are different. From my experience, women choose to have a unique piece for special occasions, since there is no other way to reach a certain degree of perfection and personalization when on a ready-to-wear piece. “It’s not the body that needs to adapt to the shape of the dress, but rather the dress must model itself around the body, and create an aesthetically pleasant result to delight those who can appreciate true elegance.” This has been my idea of Fashion, and it seems like many have been adapting it lately.

SF: How would you describe your personal style, and how much is it influenced by menswear?

DP: I’d call my style “new underground”, as it blends ancient arts and artisanal aspects with modern techniques – creating a peculiar and defined style. It’s hard to create fashion for women with this approach, but I keep studying and dedicating my time to this project, trying to bring the infamous precision of cut and fit that we find in sartorial menswear to products destined for women. That’s what I hope to accomplish one day.

SF: What are the brands and tailors that you appreciate the most, for both quality and style of their products?

DP: As for big names and haute couture, the answer is predictable: Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, and many others. However, my education has allowed me to appreciate the work of tailors in Italy and abroad. I would have to mention all the tailors of the Accademia Nazionale dei Sartori – its president Ilario Piscioneri, Franco Puppato, Sebastiano di Rienzo, Mario Napolitano, Mario Pastore, Daniel Robu… they truly are the feather in the cap of the sartorial tradition.

SF: Your work with Isabel Pabo allows you to travel the world; where have you seen the most elegant men?

DP: In Italy, for sure. Italian creativity and fashion are famous all over the world for a reason, just like the brand “Made in Italy”. However, I’ve met many elegant men during my travels, and I’ve got the chance to appreciate different kinds of styles influenced by cultures that are not as known as the Italian.

SF: The tailleur (the suit for women) is a garment that’s associated for the most part with an office environment, or with formal ceremonies at best. In the United States, it is a symbol of women empowerment in politics, recently exemplified when Hillary Clinton made it a trademark of her presidential campaign in 2016. In your pictures, you wear pantsuits and jackets in vibrant colors, infusing new life in a garment that seems to be popular mostly among mature women in a business environment. Is this a pondered choice you intend to pursue with your brand?

DP: I actually think my idea of fashion is best expressed with a tailleur – whether it is a jacket-pant or jacket-skirt combination. I find it can be adapted to many occasions as it allows for a broad choice of fabrics and colors. You can craft a style for any occasion with a tailleur: free time, business, evening, special occasion, all the while maintaining the elegant sobriety of a “modern woman.”

SF: Lastly, if you were a man, what do you think your style would be?

DP: I really wouldn’t know, although as a woman I’m naturally attracted to men that are elegant and have good manners – which one can be even wearing a pair of jeans. Anyway, I’m way too involved in the matter to provide an objective answer!

women in menswear dalila palumbo

Follow Dalila on Facebook and Instagram.

Making a Handmade Wallet with Pierpont Leather

There’s a lot of work that goes into making a handmade wallet, as you might expect.  Here, Parker Pierpont of Pierpont Leather walks us through the labor-intensive steps that go into crafting luxury leather goods. Enjoy the beautiful photos!

Making a Handmade Wallet
Part 1 of 7: Clicking
Usually, there are several hours that are dedicated to developing a pattern that meets the physical or aesthetic needs of a client. Sometimes, it can take days. A truly deep understanding of patterns and design emerges from hundreds of hours that are spent designing and realizing patterns for projects. It’s the direct relation of designing, patterning, and constructing a piece from beginning to end. This iterative process allows the maker to say “Oh, that’s a bit short,” or “I want this to feel softer” – and to then take a pattern out and write notes on it to implement for the next project or final iteration of the work at hand. Once the pattern (shown above) is settled upon, the leather is painstakingly ‘clicked’ – or cut – with hand tools.

Making a Handmade Wallet
Part 2 of 7: Lining and Trimming
Lining is extremely important to the integrity of a piece. It allows for a certain rigidity, and for a final product that feels lush and luxurious in the hand. After clicking and dimensioning, we arrange pieces together with their lining. Usually all of these pieces (in the case of the wallet shown, there are about 20 individual pieces of leather at this stage) have been refined to a very specific thickness already, within a tolerance of about .1mm. After all of the pieces are sorted and checked, the parts are carefully laminated, pressed, and allowed to cure for some time before being trimmed to final size. Below, you can see how the leather looks upon completion of this process.

Making a Handmade Wallet

Part 3 of 7: Finishing Pt.1
All edges that can’t be accessed later in the process are individually creased, sanded even, dyed, waxed, and polished multiple times. This seals any exposed edges and provides a finished look. This is especially time-consuming, but incredibly important, as it prevents unwanted moisture from entering what would otherwise be the very absorbent edges of the raw leather. Pictured below is the second to last stage of the edge finishing process, before the final polish.

Making a Handmade Wallet
Part 4 of 7: Assembly
Next, the internal pockets are assembled, sealed, and stitched down one by one. (This is the stage we’re at in the photo below). Afterwards, the entire card pocket assembly is lined and stitched closed on the side that will sit on the interior of the wallet.
Final assembly consists of lining the main pieces, stitching down any full-length pockets into place so as to limit their depth to a useful amount, and carefully lining them up to be perfectly symmetrical to one another in order to prepare for the next step.

Making a Handmade Wallet

Part 5 of 7: Stitching
After the wallet has been assembled completely, holes are marked along the exterior of the wallet to prepare for saddle stitching. All holes are placed with great consideration so as to make sure that any pieces that may be under stress are held down under a well-positioned stitch. The best part of this type of assembly is the amount of control that you feel you have with the final piece. It’s generally an extremely enjoyable process, though some find it slightly tedious.

Making a Handmade WalletMaking a Handmade Wallet

Part 6 of 7: Finishing, pt. 2

Edge finishing is pretty straightforward – you make sure your edges are level, you seal and crease the perimeter, and then you polish with with dye and wax. In the first picture, you see a refined edge that is about halfway through the finishing process, and the final result in the photo below.

Making a Handmade WalletMaking a Handmade Wallet
Part 7 of 7: The Reveal
This is the final piece – thanks for working along with us!

Want to know more about Pierpont Leather? You can view their affiliate thread (and ask Parker all the questions you want) here.

Outfit Inspiration from Gerry Nelson

how to dress like gerry nelson styleforum

It’s no secret that Gerry Nelson posts some of the better-liked outfits on Styleforum. He dresses in a very approachable mix of tailored and casual clothing, and has a great eye for colors. In particular, he often pairs an indigo, work-style jacket with either jeans or trousers, which, though simple, is a fantastically good look if you get the fit and shade of your clothing right. With that in mind, here’s an example of an outfit that at touches on some of Gerry’s sensibilities.

First, our outerwear is casual but neither sloppy nor boring. A deep indigo, such as you’ll find on this Blue Blue Japan gown coat, goes with just about anything, including the Eidos pullover we’ve chosen. A Drake’s shirt with a button-down collar is a good casual accompaniment, and will look just as good on its own with the medium-wash Orslow jeans. Finally, a pair of tassel loafers in a rich brown suede means you can easily wear this outfit into springtime, and the addition of a giant robot on your pocket square is the kind of detail that keeps your wardrobe from boring you to tears.

Now, I’ve never had the opportunity to smell Gerry Nelson in person, but I am a fan of Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais, which is a pleasantly soft and alluring blend of plum, oud, and incense. It seems a perfect fit for the deep colors shown above, and is sensual without being overbearing.

Altogether, this outfit is the very definition of comfortable, just likemost of Gerry’s looks. It’s the kind of combination of sharp and relaxed that’s perfect for most of today’s offices, as well as for most of the weekend. Gerry may have perfected his own particular style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with similar ideas, and embrace a palette of deep, rich colors this spring.

The Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast

Something is happening in the world of shoes. Or rather, in the world of quality shoes. It’s not a tidal wave, but then again, few things are when you’re dealing with classic menswear. It’s more like a small trickle that’s turned into a steady stream of obsession. It started out with a few enthusiasts and their newfound interest in this ancient craft, then merged with the new-ish ability to connect through the internet, and found a home at a place in time where appreciation for tangible, luxurious objects is higher than it’s been for decades.

I’m a Swede, so naturally my perspective is mainly Swedish, but at the same time I think what’s happening over here may be at least mildly indicative of a global trend. In 2012, Skoaktiebolaget (a fine men’s shoes store and Styleforum affiliate) opened the doors of their brick and mortar shop in Stockholm, not only to the Swedish market, but to an international market that was just about to boom. I remember my initial reaction as being: “Is it a viable business idea to sell premium shoes in a city as small as Stockholm, when the price of a pair of shoes may very well be as high as some people’s monthly wages?”

Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast My friend Jussi wearing a pair of handcrafted from shoe artist Mario Bemer

Apparently, the answer to this question was a resounding “Yes!” And they didn’t just appeal to a market consisting of the financial jet set. A fairly newfound appreciation for workmanship, construction and leather quality had – and has – flourished among enthusiasts from all walks of life. Students saved up on their bursaries to be able to buy a pair of MTO’s from Carmina, maybe a first step down the slippery slope towards top-name makers in the business, such as Gaziano & Girling, St. Crispins, John Lobb, and others of their ilk.

Rise of the Shoe Enthusiast A picture I took in Skoaktiebolaget’s former store. They have since moved to a much bigger location, on one of Stockholm’s most popular addresses

I’ve heard some people attribute the success of Skoaktiebolaget to a fortunate timing of exchange rates between the US Dollar and the Swedish Crown, where the Dollar became very strong in comparison, and gave the US customer base a chance to buy European premium shoes at a very competitive price.

In my opinion, this is an oversimplification. I think Skoaktiebolaget managed to tap into something that’s more complex than basic economics. Exchange rates and a fairly steady Swedish economy can explain some of the business, but it can’t quite explain why the interest for artistic, well-crafted crafted shoes of the highest quality keeps going up, for an ever-growing number of men from widely-differing demographics.

My layman’s guess is that it has something to do with the times in which we’re living. A lot of people are stumbling around, trying to make sense of things. Economic markets don’t behave according to old predictable patterns of booms and recessions in perpetual cycles (in fact, nowadays booms and recessions can even exist simultaneously). Digitalization of practically every type of business has created a longing for something tangible, something lasting, as opposed to the ephemerality of the internet. Hence the reemergence of old crafts, hence the appeal of products that will not only last a lifetime if treated properly, but actually grow more beautiful with age, hence stores like Skoaktiebolaget.

With an everyday reality that currently feels increasingly volatile, the idea of long-lasting, quality products seems more attractive than ever. The re-popularization of Goodyear- and hand-welted shoes has naturally drawn the interest of people who see a gap in the market for quality shoes, where price is a boundary that still keeps a major part of an untapped market out. When I tell uninitiated people about the cost of even one of my “cheaper” pair of shoes, they look at me with an understandable amount of skepticism. Some of them could probably afford several pairs of Lobb’s every month, but the idea of paying these amounts for shoes, or clothing for that matter, is still a high threshold for the majority of men to step over.

However, there’s plenty of room for growth. One Swedish brand that has capitalized on this idea is Myrqvist Shoes. Swedish company Herrstil decided to launch their own brand of good year welted shoes with a good price/quality ratio, so they started a Kickstarter campaign and managed to even exceed their original funding goals. The idea was simple, they cut off all the middle men and went straight to the factory and suppliers of raw materials, and then offered the shoes directly to their customers without the added retail-margins. Other companies have used similar business models to get into the coveted “budget price market” (in reality this is still a premium price for most people). For example, Styleforum favorite Meermin sells Goodyear-welted shoes at a very competitive price, much due to their business being mainly online, and because they can do self-funded MTO-shoes for small groups of customers.

Rise of the Shoe EnthusiastWearing a pair of Chelsea boots from Myrqvist

Naturally, there are also makers catering to buyers who want nothing but the finest in shoemaking – the bespoke shoemakers. Gary Tok (@Gazman70k) recently wrote a book on this subject, called Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes (also available at affiliate The Hanger Project). In this book, Tok sets out to capture the allure and beauty of bespoke shoemaking. The book consists of beautiful photographs, accompanied by written portraits of the different shoemakers. These are men whose shoes have more in common with art than with commodities. They are the masters of their trade, most of whom still do everything as they have always done it. If I were to make a wild guess, their business is more resistant to fluctuating markets and predictions of recessions than most shoe makers’. They make a product that attracts the sort of clients who don’t splurge on loud items to showcase their wealth, but rather the sort of clients who appreciate the craft and see their purchase as a good investment.

Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes rise of the shoe enthusiast gary tokSpread from Master Shoemakers: The Art & Soul of Bespoke Shoes. Picture courtesy of Skoaktiebolaget.

The connection between the new entrepreneurs on the welted shoe market, and the old craftsmen and artisans may not seem like an obvious one. But, a merger of these two worlds could actually be the future of the trade. Not only in the manner that welted shoes in the lower price tiers are “gateway drugs” for future bespoke customers, but also in the general idea of how the most traditional makers will be doing their business.

The World of Shoes, yet another Swedish company, has set out to be a bridge between some of the less attainable shoemakers and customers from all around the world. The concept is rather unique, at least when it comes to shoes. They run an online editorial platform, on which they write about classic shoemakers, and they also have a market place, where people can buy some of these shoes. This, at least, takes away the geographical barriers between the traditional shoemakers and their potential customers.

rise of the shoe enthusiastHannes Rebas, editor at The World Of Shoes, talking to Olof Nithenius

Who knows, with the development of 3D scanning/printing and other technological advances, the next step may actually be to be able to produce proper bespoke without having to physically meet your shoemaker. I’ve talked about these, and other kind of developments with my friend & bespoke shoemaker, Norman Vilalta, and he embraces the advantages new techniques bring to the table. If his benevolence towards this evolution in traditional shoemaking is embraced by the next generation of makers, I’d dare say the future looks bright for this craft.

rise of the shoe enthusiastSpanish shoemaker Norman Vilalta in focus

rise of the shoe enthusiastFernando, Vilalta’s business partner, shows us around their trunk show in Florence last month

Erik is co-founder of EFV Clothing. You can find him on Instagram at @ErikMannby

What is Ancient Madder?

Over the course of the autumn and winter, there’s a good chance you read the phrase “ancient madder” somewhere on the forum, and you may have wondered what it is. Although madder itself has a very, very long history, ancient madder now refers, at least in menswear parlance, exclusively to silk ties. These ties are specially treated to have the characteristically matte – or “chalky” – hand, then dyed with the traditionally dark and dusty colors of the madder plant.

Initially, the “madder” part of ancient madder – or any kind of madder – came from the dye’s origins as an extract of the Rubia tinctorum plant, otherwise known as “madder.” Use of the plant dates back to the Egyptian Empire of 1500 B.C., and it has been found in Africa, Greece, Italy, and central Asia. Most regularly, it was used to produce reds and oranges, including the red coats of the British Army. Like indigo, natural madder dyes were phased out upon the discovery of the plant’s coloring agent, alizarin, and its subsequent synthesis in 1868. It doesn’t help that some of the chemicals present in natural madder root have been shown to cause cancer in rats (that’s not something you have to worry about with the modern, synthetically-dyed ties).

In America, Madder ties became a standby of Ivy style, often found in paisleys and geometric prints alongside stripes and club logos. The colors given by the madder root, and hence by its synthetic replicas,  are generally muted. Think of sandstone, changing leaves, and soft ochres – geometric madder prints remain an Ivy standby, but they’ve also been embraced by men who are after striking but conservative colors. They’re particularly well-suited for fall, when thicker textures and jackets come out of the closet for the changing weather.

Essentially, “ancient madder” refers to very handsome neckties in dark, chalky colors, with a similarly chalky hand. Several companies make “ancient madder” ties, though Styleforum members will be most familiar with names such as Drake’s, Shibumi Berlin, and Sam Hober. Larger brands such as Brooks Bros., Ralph Lauren, and Ben Silver also regularly carry madder ties.

Once you have one, Mr. Bruce Boyer recommends wearing it with a tweed jacket, though most jackets with some heft and texture to them will pair well with madder ties. When wearing a madder tie, do recommend embracing other natural or natural-looking dyes, such as indigos, which pair beautifully with the dark hues of ancient madder ties.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.