"With careful management and maintenance, most handmade ties can be regularly worn for decades."
Without a great tie, a custom-tailored suit is pretty much like an unfinished symphony. That said, a meticulously handmade necktie will not remain great for long, either, if one does not also treat it with the amount of care and attention it deserves.
A tie is arguably the most delicate of accessories. Forgetting to hang it up after use, over-tightening the four-in-hand or Windsor knot, and yanking it off carelessly can result in it losing its shape over time – but handled with extreme care, and a beautiful tie might just last for decades.
Start with creating the correct storage conditions. When unworn, ties should always be stored in a cool, dry location and away from direct sunlight. If living in tropical, humid conditions, place a container of moisture-absorbing beads in the wardrobe. Refresh them regularly too – this will prevent damp from infiltrating that precious tie collection and inhibit the growth of mould on less-used seasonal ties.
Ties should be carefully hung on a dedicated tie rack, where gravity will allow them to fall back into their natural shape after use. Menswear enthusiasts might prefer to roll their ties and place them in a dedicated drawer instead – this is especially advisable for knitted ties, which might stretch out when hung for extended periods of time. Rolled ties should also be given plenty of space in the drawer to breathe and ensured that they are not squashed flat.
Each time one chooses a tie to wear, gently form the knot and pay attention to ensure that the fabric is not over-stressed. Shantung and grenadine ties have a natural advantage here, with a slightly coarser texture that provides more traction – this ensures that their knots do not need excessive tightening before it creates an appealing volume at the collar opening.
When removing the tie, resist the urge to tug the narrow end back through the knot and risk damage to the delicate fabric. Instead, carefully untie the knot in the reverse order to which it was tied to maximise the life of the threads. Like any suit or good pair of shoes, allow a minimum of two to three days between wearing each tie to give the fabric its necessary rest in order for it to regain its original shape.
When travelling, our best advice is to purchase a dedicated tie travel case that will keep them flat. Alternately, ties can also be folded and placed inside the breast pocket of an unworn suit jacket in its garment bag. Otherwise, roll and place them in a small box or shoes for protection. In all instances, ensure that ties should always be hung upon arrival at the destination – over a chair works well.
Stubborn kinks picked up in transit can more often than not be remedied simply by hanging the tie over the bathroom door and turning on the shower – steam coaxes the threads to relax. A hand-held steamer might also be used to remove stubborn wrinkles too. That said, avoid the use of a hotel room iron at all costs.
Ties are invariably in the firing line for food spills that have the potential to render an expensive and carefully maintained tie worthless in a moment of carelessness. If dining etiquette allows, remove the tie before dining but otherwise, tuck it under the shirt or use a table napkin instead. Let’s be realistic though – more often than not, the best advice here is to dine with care and hope for the best.
But spills do happen and reaction time is crucial in removing or minimising the damage. For the average food or drink stains, remove any excess using the clean edge of a dull knife or white napkins, whichever convenient. More importantly, use a small amount of soda water to gently blot the stain – what one should avoid doing is to rub it in a moment of folly as that pushes the stain further, and more permanently, into the fabric.
If the said stain is oil-based, take off the tie and shake baking soda, cornflour or talcum powder directly onto it and leave the tie for a few hours to rest before brushing the residues off. This process can be repeated to further minimise the stain. If all else fails, alcohol-based hand sanitisers are worth a shot – gently dabbing around the circumference of the stain might just be the solution.
What one should never do is completely immerse a handmade, quality tie in the washing machine or tumble dryer. But if a tie ever does get soaking wet for some reason, lay it flat on a clean towel and allow it to air-dry. Additionally, some dry cleaning experts are also specialists in the cleaning and hand-pressing of neckties – it is worth seeking the help of a professional sometimes.
You have invested significantly in quality ties so take good care of them. Establishing a rotation means that each tie gets a period of time to recover between uses, and have an appropriate method for storing them. Take all prudent steps to avoid the accidental contact with food, and exercise care in the removal of stains or creases.
With careful management and maintenance, most handmade ties can be regularly worn for decades. In need of a new necktie choice while building a sartorial wardrobe? Visit us at our Melbourne and Sydney showrooms to view a selection of handmade accessories in collaboration with Biagio Santo.