December 08, 2006
UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers! And no, I don't know anything about the museum print ties Glenn recommends, but I'm sure they're nice. Reminds me though - if trendy design is your priority, and you don't mind throwing ties away often, and not having the reassuring feeling of real quality around the neck, the $30 stuff below will often satisfy. Most of it is copied directly from whatever is in vogue at the moment - for example, there is a Ralph Lauren Purple Label ($140, made in Italy) emblazoned with some cod-heraldic symbols on the market right now. It also exists in Polo's American/asian made lines at $90, and some other brands at $50, on sale for $30.
The Wall Street Journal Law Blog's recent note on Tie Bar, a tie website founded by a former lawyer, gives me the opportunity to do my third post on finding high quality clothes at decent price (Part I: Shirts, and Part II: Pants). Again, I don't claim to be some sort of fashion maven (in fact, I'm the opposite). I've just been forced to buy a lot of formal clothes, and don't like to spend a lot of money. And yet, I want good, lasting stuff. This is the result of my research.
The tie market, so far as I can tell, is divided roughly in two different ways. The first set of distinctions is along style lines, and those general species of tie are then more finely divided by price and quality.
In general, the acme of a good tie is thick, durable, silk, tailored by hand, in Europe. At the top of that market sit companies like Brioni, and Kiton, Zegna, and various English tie makers, selling for about $140 retail here in the US. As you go down in price, you hit a tranche at $90, which are still quality stuff (the French made "Faconnable" lives in this world, as do American ties like "Ike Behar"). There's another tranche at $50, which will be made in Asia, in general, and then a dreadful bunch of crap at $30. I try to buy things only from the first two categories (and sometimes from the occasional $110 group that appears, which I haven't yet been able to place). Also, if something is made of polyester, no matter the price, put it back on the rack.
A couple of things to remember here. In order to replicate the substantial, heavy, feel of an expensive "seven fold" tie, lesser makes will use a lesser sort of silk weighted to make it feel bulkier. (a side note here - there is a related problem in the oriental rug trade, where mercurized cotton is used to imitate silk). That $50 tie made in China might initially feel and look like its triple-priced Italian counterpart, but a few months later, that won't be the case. The second thing is that all of these are available at discount. I've seen the $140 ties for as low as $60 at Filene's Basement, and the $90 tranche is often available for $25 at Marshall's. So it's worth looking.
The second species of ties are those emanating from Hermes. These differ in that they're made of tissue like silk, and are thin, and usually have "frivolous" patterns, like chickens, or turkeys or ducks. Hermes tops this market at $140, but there are imitators all the way down, including Burberry and Brooks Brothers. So far as I can tell, the differences in quality (rather than brand name) here come from the fact that the imitation Hermes style tie uses a much less expensive method of getting the ducks onto the tie than the real deal, which involves doing something (which is unclear to me) to the silk. Hermes does not exist in discount, so far as I know, and in general, I'd rather wear the discounted top end of the thick tie family than a discounted Hermes imitator.
What to do if even those prices seem vertiginous? I can only recommend Gentleman's Resale here in New York, where everything I've discussed in this post is available for a maximum of $40, and usually much less, in perfect condition. Places like this are especially appropriate in an appreciating Euro environment, where currency fluctuations are pushing European made goods up in price. Otherwise, it's either loosen the purse strings, or invest the time searching. Given the centrality of the tie to the formal wardrobe, I think it's probably worth the effort.
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Quaker challenges below to my post about Evan Bayh and the freedom to get a credit card by suggesting that it is "ludicrous" to believe that there is any merit in the freedom argument. I think this is transparently wrong, but more importantly, I think it should be clear that thinking that Quaker is wrong shouldn't be enough to automatically infer the bad-faith of the person who thinks so. Or am I accused of arguing in bad faith too?
Anyway, I write this post to highlight another point, which is Quaker's decision to refer to the people targeted by the Dodd-Feinstein legislation as "minors". These students were between the ages of 18 and 21, old enough to vote, fight wars, sign almost any other contract, be executed, etc. (Just not to legally drink.) This was a bad bit of Newspeak when Dodd and Feinstein tried it and remains so. Here is Jacob Levy:
The Dodd and Feinstein amendments were aimed at 18-21 year olds; they essentially redefined 'minor' upward for purposes of credit law. (Those under 18 already need parental cosigners.)
Feinstein and Dodd then engaged in the dishonest but broingly predictable game of always talking as though they were protecting 'minors,' when they were in fact aiming at taking people who were *not* legally minors for that purpose and making them so. By standards of then- and still-current law, the amendments restricted the financial options of non-minors-- but it did so by starting to call them "minors," and Feinstein and Dodd argued *as if that change had already happened* and they could unproblematically refer to 18-21 year olds as minors.
As I said, the dishonesty here was Feinstein's and Dodd's and so I don't mean to hang it on Judis-- but I also don't mean to fall victim to it myself, and so I refer to the amendments as affecting non-minors.
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