X (Not So) Well Suited:
XLong Tie, Wing Collar
English aristocracy used to maintain class distinction by requiring clerks to incorrectly combine the formal wing
collar with the informal long tie.
Today, this Edwardian barrister
look is considered trendy by many naive young Americans.
Contemporary Black-Tie Neckwear
black self-tie silk
bow tie to match lapel facings
four-in-hand tie (long tie) has become a popular alternative
The four-in-hand necktie has
become increasingly popular among young formalwear renters
and trendy celebrities. Since it is made of the same color and
material as an evening bow tie it would stand to reason that it
shares the same level of formality. However, a closer look at
the facts reveals that this is not the case.
First, a dark solid bow tie has been
associated with a tuxedo for a century. A dark solid long tie,
on the other hand, is associated with regular suits. Consequently the “formal” four-in-hand actually lowers the
dinner suit’s status to that of an informal black suit, particularly
when worn with a two-button notched-lapel jacket and plain-front
Second, the aesthetics don’t
work. With a regular
suit the four-in-hand adds color to a man’s ensemble and complements
the suit. But when worn
with a tuxedo the long black tie only serves to divide in half the
dramatic white V created by the closed jacket’s framing of the
shirt. In fact, as The
Aesthetics of the Tuxedo points out, the silk tie appears as an
extension of the silk lapels and can turn their V shape into a
downward facing arrow instead. This leads the eye away from the face whereas the
traditional black bow tie serves to underscore it.
For those occasions when a
dressed-down tuxedo or dressed-up mortician attire is appropriate – Black Tie Optional events, for
example – the same rules should be applied to the four-in-hand as
the bow tie: the material should be black silk, the satin or
grosgrain finish should match the lapel finish and the tie should be
self-tied. Patterns will only make the tie even more informal
and colored neckwear is strictly for the prom.
A peaked-lapel jacket and a
black waistcoat can be a partial counterbalance to the informality
of the four-in-hand provided that the waistcoat is a higher-cut
model because the low-cut classic was not designed to be worn with
this style of tie. Shawl collars, on the other hand, have an
Old World air that does not suit the modern long tie.
go without saying that cummerbunds are completely incongruous with
four-in-hands. Similarly, wing-collar shirts are oxymoronic
with long ties and only succeed in transforming the overall
look from bland to disjointed.
Unlike a bow tie,
a four-in-hand chops the dramatic "V" of exposed white shirt into
an unimpressive "W".
The bow tie helps draw the eye to Mr. Gore's face while the long tie
carries the eye towards Mr. DiCaprio's crotch.