Contributor ANV shares this tidbit of sartorial esoterica.
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Richard Press had said that the background color for neckties never went darker than navy blue. Similarly, the patrician wardrobe tends to avoid high contrast, except for formalwear. As a result, one rarely sees white or black in traditional necktie designs. But there are exceptions, including the Caius Athletic tie above.
Some schools, universities, and clubs not only have a regular associative necktie, but multiple versions of it as well. Each of these versions has a specific meaning, being worn by a specific group (students may have one version of a tie, while alumni may have a different one). As an aside, associative neckties tend to have the stripes go up and to the left (///), while the commercial, unaffiliated version of those same colors has the direction flipped (\\\).Â The summer neckties â€“ found at Oxford, Cambridge, and some of the clubs at Harvard â€“ are an interesting exception to the no-high-contrast rule above, and, to paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, the code is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules. These have white as a dominant background color, and the width of the colored stripes is usually narrower than their regular version of the same necktie.
The Ben Silver university ties shown here highlight the difference between the regular and summer versions of the same school tie:
These are delightful holdovers from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, when Society with a capital S would change outfits several times a day (which probably did wonders for a clothiers’ bottom line), and stuck close to the calendar in regards to what was worn at a particular time of year. But these summer neckties â€“ lighter and brighter than their year-round kin â€“ do look even more appropriate during festive events in the warmer, sunnier months, especially with khakis and a blazer. These are a gentle nod to the British traditions which underpin the Anglo-American style.
And per Larry Mahoney of The Andover Shop, these can look best against a blue striped shirt. “Don’t wear it against a white shirt, unless you’re wearing blue seersucker suit,” he growled. “Now, are you going to buy that or not?” – ANV