Monday, July 6, 2009

élégance masculine

On tailoring - and toilettes in general . . . a few words respecting dress and tailoring may not be out of place; for nothing is trivial in life, and everything to the philosopher has a meaning. As in the old joke about a pudding that has two sides, namely an inside and an outside; I mean, that there is in a man's exterior appearance the consequence of his inward ways of thought, and a gentleman who dresses too grandly, or too absurdly, or too shabbily, has some oddity, or insanity, or meanness in his mind, which developes itself somehow outwardly in the fashion of his garments.
The Book of Snobs
WM Thackeray

I'm going out into lonely territory, but I like ties. Sorry if the weather is hot wherever you are and you don't even want to think about it; I still like ties. They are the most precious article of men's attire these days. Why it had to dwindle down to this is perfectly silly, but that is the case. So why not celebrate that little scrap of fabric you men tie about your necks. Of course, I'm so crazy about fabric that naturally I seek the refinement of ties. There are so
many beautiful patterns to choose from, surely they permit
you to express your personalities a little.

(top photo Thierry Mugler reversible silk shantung tie)

ever chic Bill Nighy in Good Morning, England

1950 Italian advertisement

Balthus with thickly knotted tie photo Man Ray

beautiful textures of linen and silk from Ermenegildo Zegna

"la véritable élégance est moins loin de la simplicité que la fausse"
Marcel Proust

Gary Cooper's nonchalant elegance 1935

Kenzo's mixed patterns

Jean Cocteau with his jacket worn as a magician's cape - not recommended for lesser mortals, but it does set off those long hands well
All photos except that of Bill Nighy from La Grande Histoire de la Cravate by Francois Chaille


  1. Gorgeous gorgeous illustrations- love the Bill Nye one esp. of course- Gary Cooper- a fabulous post! I will take a tie on occasion and use it for a belt, nothing gets more looks esp in the South as a lady with lots of hair and man's tie! la

  2. I totally agree about the elegance of ties and for me the subtler the more elegant. Alas, now the fashion is for suits and jackets without ties - mind you, in 38 degree Celcius weather the least constriction around the neck the better!

  3. yes la,that is a touch I like - and every once and a while, a woman manages a true masculine-feminine look with success, Dietrich, Keaton...

    Anon - c'est ca la veritable élégance

  4. Interesting topic. I love ties, my husband says if wore them, you wouldn't. But then I feel that way about corsets!

    More than ties, I like the male/female interaction. In my dining room's rather romantic/eccentric hell of a lot of trouble to make, I wanted to incorporate the male/female dynamic. I chose to use rosettes and tie shaped forms at the corners. No one else gets it. I do everyday. I have kept my husband's worn out ties in the hopes that one day I'll make a quilt or something. Fabric too luscious for the landfiil. From the beginning of time there has been the needed dance of the male and female. I think the best of each sex is when the other's traits are found. But then, I am a Libra.

  5. Sometimes it's good to have one's own ultra-private references! I'm with you, we need the cross-overs and balance. But then, I'm a Gemini.

    (There is/was a man named Mr.Pearl on the Haute Couture scene who makes corsets and wears one himself. He loves to manipulate nature to find beauty and says he feels vulnerable without his corset. He wears ties too!)

  6. I agree...the elegant man knows that a cravat can speak a million words...and the opposite sex listens very well. Louis XIV knew a good thing when he met the Croat regiment

  7. Wars have lasting consequences where they are least suspected. There are at least some pleasant side effects!

  8. genius post. thank you for the gary cooper fix!

    cocteau looks incredible.

    we have a drawing by cocteau of dargelos. it belonged to my mother. now it belongs to me!

    btw, love your blog. found you via the wonderful and brilliant little a!

  9. He is a handsome devil.
    I have drawings from my just teen years that show that however far off, I had to consider Cocteau a kindred spirit. You are lucky!
    And what do you know - I was just taking a quick peek at your blog too. Going for a round trip now.

  10. I wear a tie to work daily, even though I'm nearly the only one in the office! Men's clothes can be so mundane: the tie adds the style!

  11. Good for you who add style to your days - and to those around you !

  12. We had a little debate over at my page only a few days ago, over "the comfy shirt," which might have amused you after this. I disagree that the tie is the last arrow in a man's quiver, but it is interesting to hear that you think so. I have always appreciated their offer of expression, and have loved to select them. Here, the Zegna tie (which I would never wear) is impressively pretty and (probably) relatively well crafted, but Gary Cooper proves both sides of the argument at once. Naturally he looks nice in his necktie, and his necktie has absolutely nothing to do with it. Gary Cooper cannot be made more elegant by anything.

    A warm and fun posting! :)