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It's largely taken as a truism that the fashionable width of ties and lapels move in unison. I.e., as one widens or narrows, so does the other. And while I acknowledge this as a general trend during recent (The last 50 years.) history, I wonder if this was always so. Though I probably shouldn't, as I've studied many photos from the '30's as well as many of the AA/Esky illustrations, and many show wide lapels with rather narrow ties.

I have some small familiarity with ties from the '30's as represented by my father's and uncle's leftovers by the time I was aware of such things. My recollection is that while the blade of a tie might be quite wide, the taper to the tail was radical, so that the part of the tie that formed the knot was fairly narrow, as was what was exposed above a vest or DB. And this is what I see depicted in old photos and illustrations. The concordance of scale came not from a balance between lapel and tie width, but rather from the percentage of the area of the "V" occupied by tie relative to the V's size and the size of the collar.

So why would I think about such things? Because I've had to learn what is flattering to me, and most often it has little to do with fashion. As a young man and former football player, I remember how absolutely dreadful I looked in the early '60's in fashionable narrow ties and lapels. I was large, and had a particularly large barrel chest. Jackets always looked mis-proportioned. Ties looked like a pinstripe painted down my center to emphasize width.

Over the many intervening years I've leaned that moderation is the most flattering style for me. Better tailoring certainly assists as well. And while age has changed my once more athletic build, I still must guard that my lapels are never too skimpy. And ditto ties. But neither do I prefer the extremes of width that often afflict us.

What I do find is that the widths of ties, within certain parameters, seem to be of little consequence with any given jacket. That is, I wear ties of varying widths from 2" knits to some silks that are roughly 3 ½" at the blade. And as long as I pay attention to the balance of the whole outfit, an inch or two in tie width matters little in producing a pleasing overall effect.

 

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My recollection is that while the blade of a tie might be quite wide, the taper to the tail was radical, so that the part of the tie that formed the knot was fairly narrow, as was what was exposed above a vest or DB. And this is what I see depicted in old photos and illustrations. The concordance of scale came not from a balance between lapel and tie width, but rather from the percentage of the area of the "V" occupied by tie relative to the V's size and the size of the collar.


A very useful observation I feel; and one which provides a pattern for 'good' tie design. If all ties were thinner towards the tail wouldn't this provide some leeway in the potential thickness of the knot?
 

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I would think that thinner ties would make me lean more towards the four-in-hand, as Kennedy did. Otherwise, there's a large not and no tie under it!
The knot will still be in proportion to the rest of the tie. A windsor knot on a narrow tie will be fairly small compared to a windsor knot on a 4-inch tie. I find the four-in-hand to be a suitable knot for any tie.
 
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