The Road Less Taken: Madras Jacket + Black Knit Tie

Yesterday we looked at young JFK in 1941 and wondered if his knit tie was black or navy. Today we have a knit tie whose hue is not in doubt. This is Ivy Style contributor Pani M., who’s channelling George Plimpton with his hair and severely underplaying his madras jacket with a severe black knit tie.

Even more daring, his belt and shoes are brown. Reaction on Facebook included the following:

I can’t imagine anyone outside a men’s fashion subreddit even noticing.

Black beyond shoes and belt should be reserved for dinner and funerals.

Navy would be a smarter choice.

Black knit goes with everything in my opinion.

Rules can be violated by those who’ve earned the right. Carry on.

Get out.

Pani knows what he’s doing: navy was the obvious choice for tie color, and he went for the less-than-obvious, but kept the belt and shoes brown. But is that a Brooks Brothers warehouse he’s standing in front of? — CC

18 Comments on "The Road Less Taken: Madras Jacket + Black Knit Tie"

  1. René Lebenthal | July 6, 2017 at 11:43 am |

    Personnally I would have opted for navy, but from a historical and a taste point of view I am not shocked either…a question of personal style, which is, I believe, the most important.
    I have a “faiblesse” for brown suede shoes, or dirty bucks where others might opt for different options….
    A question of personal style….
    PS: I like Pani M’s @caustic_man style a lot!!

  2. Nice coat, tie and shirt combination. Is there a second pair of Wayfarers in your coat pocket?

    Speaking of black clothing, I bought a Purple Label tuxedo at a thrift store the other day for $20. Fits perfectly. Now I need a reason to wear a tux.

    Get a haircut, ya hippie! Just kidding.


  3. Caustic Man | July 6, 2017 at 12:59 pm |

    Sacksuit, nope. Those are my regular glasses. I face the unfortunate need to carry both sunglasses and clear lenses to see anything properly.

  4. Charlottesville | July 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm |

    If one can wear a madras sport coat comfortably and unselfconsciously, as Caustic Man does here, then you can pull off the black tie and brown shoes just as effortlessly. Like others, I would probably have gone with a navy knit or a navy club, but judging from illustrations in old Esquire magazines, black used to be worn with practically everything, including brown tweed. I wore a navy knit tie yesterday with a blue Bengal stripe and blue and gray glen plaid suit, but black would have worked with the suit just as well. The original James Bond of the books tended to wear black knit ties with everything, as I recall, including a tropical weight navy suit. Good job, Pani M.

  5. I own both a black knit and a navy knit, and I find myself wearing the navy one more often. But that’s just me.

    I am a fellow eyeglass/sunglass switcher. The other pair is generally in the inside chest pocket.

  6. .weston.pecos. | July 6, 2017 at 9:52 pm |

    Poorly dressed is poorly dressed.

  7. Please submit photo as you will be the subject of the following post.

    Feel free to crop your face off, if you’re a coward.

  8. P3 Tortoise | July 7, 2017 at 12:27 am |


    Always a pleasure to see a gentleman who realizes that OCBDs don’t only come in blue.

    Wondering about the fabric: ıs it lightweight (pinpoint?) oxford cloth?

  9. I would regard my fellow critics’ preference for a navy tie, whether knit or club, as too matchy. Traditional men’s taste almost always calls for artful contrast. One of the axioms of color selection is: Women match; men contrast. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, I would not, for the sake of contrast, vary from a black tie with black tie. But for business clothing and certainly for sportswear, I’d choose contrast.

    I take the lightest color in the madras jacket to be white or nearly. If that’s so, and the other colors are red, blue, and green, I’d prefer a not-too-vivid yellow tie.

    As for the black silk knit…seriously misguided. The only reasonable explanation is that the young mushroom owns an incomplete tie wardrobe, and the black tie was the best he could do in a pinch. Better than a turtleneck, I suppose.

  10. Great look, Pani. It would never occur to me to wear my madras sport coat any other way, except for oxblood loafers instead of brown. Blue ties are great, neat or striped, but the best solid ties are always black.

  11. Great look. Besides, rules are made to be broken. Oh, and I have a similar looking vintage Jos A Bank 3/2 madras jacket that I got off of ebay several years ago. To my surprise, the return address on the package listed the seller was CC himself. Christian, you remember the jacket I’m talking about?

  12. Mitchell S. | July 7, 2017 at 9:39 am |

    He looks like a hitman on vacation. “Reservoir Dogs” meets Palm Beach.

  13. Wonder if he talks like one, too. You could read his articles and probably surmise.

  14. @Phil


  15. P3 Tortoise | July 8, 2017 at 1:37 am |

    Still wondering about the cloth of that shirt. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get a reply.

  16. Caustic Man | July 8, 2017 at 7:14 am |

    Sorry, it’s an oxford.

  17. In a small way, the question of the black silk knit tie suggests (doesn’t “beg”) a larger question: Where in the traditional wardrobe is the place of black? Fred Pressman of Barneys supposedly wore a black silk knit tie every day. Was Fred Ivy?

    I’ll grant black in some of its many manifestations can be chic. Can the ivy style accommodate chic? Setting aside evening clothes, what else in the Ivy closet is solid black? Cap-toe shoes, if you are an ambassador to a significant country. But certainly not suits, pants, blazers, sweaters, or shirts. Whence, then, the black silk knit tie?

  18. I am pretty sure Pani’s jacket is Irish linen (Brooks Bros.), not madras. It still looks great.

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