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Smart Buying

5 Things to Ask About Silk Ties

We show you what to look for in a qulaity necktie.

1. How do I tell if a tie is well made?
First, hold it up by the narrow end; if it twists to one side, it was cut incorrectly and will forever hang askew. Then, scrunch the material. A great tie feels smooth and substantial and bounces back wrinkle-free when released. Flip the tie over and check the panels, called tipping, that cover the lining at each end. Top-of-the-line tipping is made of silk -- sometimes of the same fabric as the rest of the tie. Whatever the material, it should extend deep into the narrow part of the tie. Look for two horizontal stitches (one on each end), called bar tacks, joining the back flaps, as well as a "keeper tab," which holds the tie in place (on lesser ties, the label doubles as the keeper). Finally, try the tie on: If it dimples under the knot, you've got a winner.


Video: How to Buy a Quality Tie

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2. How do I vet the quality of the fabric?
Run your fingers over the tie. A luxurious feel indicates high-quality silk; some makers try to disguise silk that's too thin by bulking up the liner. Heavy silk -- say, 36-ounce or 50-ounce -- boasts rich colors and more depth of design than the flimsy stuff, says Michael Ostrove, of Paul Stuart, a high-end clothier. "With thin, cheap silk, the pattern sits on top."

3. Which countries produce the best silk?
Italian and British mills set the standard for high-quality production, says Ostrove, although Chinese and Korean producers have improved the quality of their silk. You can find the provenance of the silk by checking the tie tip for the label. As for linings, the best are made of wool.

4. I found a 4.5-inch-wide tie in the back of my closet. Dare I wear it?
Sure -- if you don't mind looking like Sonny Corleone. Most contemporary ties measure 3.25 inches to 3.75 inches wide. Some, produced by a few European makers, have broken the 4-inch mark, says Bill Thompson, of Wm. Fox Co., a men's clothier in Washington, D.C.


5. How much should I expect to spend?
Nice ties in a store's private-label line start at about $35. Top labels, including Robert Talbott, Drake's London and Ike Behar, usually run $100 to $200.

Watch our video on how to buy a quality tie.

Three brands fit to be tied

Cool and Fresh:
Vineyard Vines
Price: $65

These handmade ties have patterns that include pineapples and fall leaves as well as dolphins, flip-flops and fireflies. They're made of Korean silk.


Best Value:
Pronto Uomo
Price: $40

Sold by Men's Wearhouse, these look and feel like high-priced haberdashery. Made of Chinese silk, they feature a sturdy keeper tab.

Top-Knot Ties:
Drake's London Price: $100-$135

One of these lets you look like a king for a princely price. Handmade of heavy British silk, they have a lush feel, crisp design and bright, saturated colors.