Woven neckwear is capable of great complexity and subtlety. In every weave, warp yarns and weft yarns are interlaced to produce the fabric. Warp threads run lengthwise on a loom, part elevated, part lower. The space between the two levels is threaded with the filling, or weft, horizontally, by a shuttle, back and forth. The shuttle connects to the bobbin, which holds the thread. When the shuttle reaches the opposite end, the warp threads are reversed: the lower ones are raised, and the higher ones are lowered. Then the shuttle returns in the opposite direction, weaving the filling another row. Essentially all weaving occurs this way, and the weaves which are the result of the shuttle passing from one side to the other differ in the stitches woven under or over to form a particular pattern.
Of the many ways to weave, fine silk repp is perhaps the most recognized. In this weave the ribs, which are very tightly woven, produce intense color and crispness, because the weft is floated on the surface of the material instead of being woven in. On the reverse, repp ties are always darker, because all the colored threads are on the front of the fabric.
Faille has a more conspicuous grain. Twill has diagonal ribs. Since the fabric is cut on the bias, the necktie produced will show the ribs at a 45 degree angle to the weave. Thus, twill will show as either horizontal or vertical depending upon the pattern of the cutting, and ottoman and repp show as diagonal. Traditional Macclesfield or Spitalsfield patterns, both of which have small geometric figures giving the effect of marquetry on the tie, or silver "wedding" wovens, are always elegant with a spread collar. Houndstooth and shepherd checks, basketweaves, neats with elegant settings - are all classic wovens which will dress any suit beautifully. Generally, they fall into the category of all-over ties, since they cover the entire tie surface with a single motif.
Solid ties are always appropriate. They offer an understated, elegant alternative with a solid shirt and a suit. However, a solid tie is especially appropriate when you select a stronger shirting fabric. Solids with texture provide more surface interest, and so we recommend ottoman weaves or grenadines for dressy selections. Ottomans are woven with a higher surface "float" and have a wider rib than repp. Grenadine is actually derived from thin silk gauze and is very sheer - a bit like a knit with its loose weave of twisted yarns. Grenadine is appreciated for the elegant knot it ties and for its excellent drape. A wool or cashmere solid with a sport jacket and check or plaid shirt is a wonderful look for the country or a more sporty occasion.
The striped repp tie is appreciated by the well-dressed gentleman who knows that its brilliant color, when woven authentically on English repp, makes a statement of boldness within traditional bounds. Besides, the striped tie is recognized as adding strength and definition to the softer or wider face. Always at home with a blazer, it is equally attractive with a business suit during the day, and sets off every shirt collar.
Crested neckwear is wonderful with a striped or check shirt. It is elegant with a plaid jacket. Crested ties are entirely under-utilized in most men's wardrobes. Many crests are on dark grounds of navy or black and the motif stands out handsomely. Others are on brilliant fields of color, and the tie can be seen as taking the place of a solid.
Print neckwear can be elegant and sophisticated. Traditional paisley and clover patterns, or all over fancies, can be tasteful and brilliantly colored. Paisley's dominant motif takes the form of drops or tears, and have a history which goes back thousands of years to Babylonian times where it was a stylized variation on the shape of young shoots of the date palm (A fertility symbol in ancient days). This symbol continued throughout Indo-European culture, finding its way to England through Indian woven shawls which became so fashionable that mills were established to weave them in Paisley, Scotland. Many of what are known as "classic designs," come from the archives of the printing mills as much as they do from the woven archives. (But beware the conversation tie, cheaply printed on lesser cloths but passing for a designer product.) In a British or Italian printing plant, the print process and the dye process are uniquely developed. Prints are made by either by application printing or discharge printing processes. Complex and richly colored patterns can be achieved with application printing - an additive process where each color is individually applied with separate screens – with as many as 8 colors in exact registration. In the discharge print process, colors are subtracted from a previously dyed silk. Leonard neckties, which are printed in Italy by application of as many as 24 colors, are unique in their color complexity. Animal and figure motifs for sport and hunting have a British heritage and are very classic. While originally a sign of the involvement of the wearer with the sport, now they are enjoyed as fanciful patterns by all.