Repp stripe ties are arguably the most classic neckwear of all. They had their American heyday in the Ivy look of the 1960s but are quintessentially British in nature. Ben Silver has the best selection on this side of the pond and have even dedicated an entire catalog to their distinguished offerings.
Repp stripe ties originated in military units who needed a way to distinguished themselves after military uniforms began to be standardized sometime in the mid nineteenth century. Diagonal stripes in distinct colors seemed to fit the bill just fine. American repps slant from left to right, while the authentic stuff like what Ben Silver is selling slants from right to left. Some people say insist that you shouldn’t wear colors you’re not entitled to, especially in the original right-to-left configuration, but unless you expect to be in the presence of those who have earned their stripes, don’t sweat it.
Reading through the Ben Silver catalog is like reading a beautifully-illustrated history of Britain’s best. Each pattern is accompanied by a little blurb explaining the history of the regiment, club, or school and how the colors were decided upon. Each band of Hussars, Highlanders, and Guards have their own unique story told through their stripes. Some of the combinations of colors are really wild and without the story seem downright strange. Combined with various estate tweeds, the nineteenth-century gentleman could have told the story of his life through his clothes in no uncertain terms.
Some of my favorites include those of the City of London’s battalions (blue and maroon stripes) and those of the various Inn’s of Court (black, blue, and green). Even though many of these might look similar at first glance, each is unique and slightly different from the next. For example, the four ties below left actually contain three different shades of blue, oxford, navy, and indigo, and each represents something different.
The ties themselves are made up in a 3 1/4 inch width, which suits almost everyone. It’s thin enough to be contemporary but wide enough to avoid being too trendy. There’s nothing fleeting or fashionable about any of the groups represented here in silk, and the ties are equally enduring. Thick English silk keeps things authentic on the materials front, and construction is solid.
You can sign up here to get Ben Silver’s catalogs, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Friday I’ll introduce you to the other three catalogs, so stay tuned for more.