Printed (50oz royal twill)As more men wear ties to work again, it is important to understand the small but important differences between the textures of ties. This is essentially what drives the formality of a tie, and many men when returning to ties will want to keep this formality to a minimum, to compensate for the formality of the tie itself.

Most ties are made of a printed or woven silk. A woven silk, as it has more texture, will usually be less formal, though satin is the most formal silk – as it’s the shiniest. Throughout I link to examples from Drake’s, so you can get an idea of the variations.

WovenWoven silk comes in lots of different variations, but the only alternative you really need to be aware of is grenadine, which is a noticeably thicker weave – and itself comes in large and small knots. Then there’s knitted silk, which is a yet chunkier texture. You’ll be most familiar with it in thin, squared-end ties.

GrenadineMoving away from silk, we have wool, linen and mixes of both with silk. Although the weave may be finer than a knitted silk, for example, any wool or linen tie is more casual than any silk because of its matte texture. The same goes for madder.

Silk and linenWithin these alternative materials, the rule remains though – a silk mix is smarter than a cashmere is smarter than a chunky wool.

CashmereWhy care about formality? Because if you’re wearing a tie for the first time in a while and want something a little more casual, a knitted silk may be a great idea but wool not smart enough. That will certainly be the case for most client meetings in most industries, for example. As Bruce Boyer has it, “there’s just a touch of sartorial audacity in a silk knitted tie that’s oddly liberating.”

Have fun with the world of ties.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This is something I should have paid more attention too when I started building my tie collection. Almost all of my ties are too formal (ie printed or woven silk) for anything other than working at a bank in 2001, or weddings. I need way more textured ties and squares.


I, too will need to start shopping for more textured ties. I shall start with wool and eventually work my way up to grenadine. Printed and woven silk I have in plenty.


I miss the raw silk’s in the discussion.


Have you ever heard of the new (knitted) tie brand in town, Cravatta Pelliano? Great guys with a different postmodern perspective of making the tie a wardrobe essential again. Check their site

Paulo Silvano

Simon, thank you for this useful insight; by the way, could you please give some guide lines on the subject “shirt’s collar shape versus type of face”, also which type of collar is more appropriate for a SJ or with a suit?

Bertie Wooster

Simon should the tie width always match the width of. your lapels….or is it alright if they do not match

What is the common width of a notch lapel…about 3 inches,,,or it it a function of how broad or small the shoulders are

Many thanks



Do you have any general guidelines for matching tie and lapel width? Surely the proportions aren’t completely unrelated. Within a half-inch of each other?


Hi Simon,

With regards to your recent visit to Drake’s for your MTO tie, is there more choice for MTO ties in their Haberdasher Street location than on their online store?

Cheers, Marco.


Hi Simon,

Anywhere you would recommend for a slightly wider knitted tie ? (And what width you would recommend?)




Thanks! I’ve found a few on The Rake that are 7cms from Serà Fine Silk and Fumagalli 1891. A 6.5cm pointy end one from Cifonelli. And some from described as “large” from Vestrucci.

But none that seem “perfect”, or that seem to have a consistent offer in classic colours. Maybe an idea from a new PS product, the “perfect knitted tie” ?


Makes senses!


Hi Simon. Just a question about knitted silk ties. They can be worn for all seasons? From a navy hopsack jacket and linen trousers outfit in summer/spring, or with a tweed jacket and flannel trousers in fall/winter?


Hi Simon.

I’m looking to get some new ties to go with PS and Drake’s oxford shirts.

Which ties go best with them? I’ve been looking at silk, ancient Madder silk, knitted silk, grenadine, wool and cashmere.

Would any of these be a no-no? Do any stand out as working particularly well with Oxfords?

Thanks for your advice.


Thanks Simon.


Hi Simon. Is a silk regimental stripe tie somewhat casual enough as well?
Could this work as an outfit: grey flannel suit, PS Oxford shirt, regimental stripe tie


Hi Simon, I hope you see this despite the article’s age: What would be some of your most important guidelines for shinier silk ties?

I have a few very beautiful vintage jacquard ties in my collection, but some of them have a good bit of shine (usually mixed interchangeably with matte fabric as well) and I’m never sure how to make the best of wearing them. Many thanks!