White tie and blue shirt: Sunny formal in Sartoria Ciardi

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Wearing a white tie with a blue shirt is something that makes perfect sense in Naples.

To a certain extent, wearing sugary-pink jackets and lapis-blue tailoring makes sense too. It's just sunny so much of the time, even in winter - and that sun is strong.

Bright colours seem most congruous on bright days, and there are far more of them in the south of Italy.

In the UK, you need to wait for the sun - and then take your chance. For me that means getting out bright jackets, cream trousers or - as here - a white tie.

When I first saw this colour combination, I think it appealed most because it was unusual yet subtle (a running theme through many of my preferences).

I'd never seen anyone in the UK wear a white necktie like this, and yet it didn't seem out of place in a professional office.

Indeed, some might be happy to wear the combination any day of the year. I just like waiting for particularly bright, sunny days.

It took me a year or so to buy this one (from Marinella) and then a couple of experiments to decide I liked it best with grey suits - particularly dark grey, as pictured.

It's a printed silk, with the print a regular geometrical pattern in pale-blue, black and navy - colours which also make it easy to combine with formal tailoring.

Those colours are reflected in the cotton handkerchief from Simonnot-Godard, which is white with navy bands around the edge.

The suit readers will probably recgonise as my first from Neapolitan tailor Sartoria Ciardi.

It has become pretty much my default dark, professional suit, and I think this is largely because it combines the soft Neapolitan cut so well with a sharp, formal cloth.

In fact, I was conducting a personal consultancy session with someone last week - discussing investment in a new wardrobe - and this was the suit we ended up circling around.

He wanted something light and soft, Italian and rounded, yet still suitable for any client meeting or official engagement. This ticked all the boxes.

Since having this made, Sartoria Ciardi have started coming to London more often - and are here next December 12-14, at 9 Hertford Street. Contact [email protected] for details. Suits start at €3200.

The cloth has become one of my favourites for high-twists, and I plan to use it for some trousers for the summer as well.

It's a four-ply worsted in 21 micron wool from Vitale Barberis Canonico (853.601/56, 390g). I've found it has performed well, hardly creasing and feeling light and airy to wear.

At 390g it's a good deal heavier than most high-twists, but I found it fine even on hot days in Italy.

For those that want something lighter, there is a two-ply option which I mentioned I'm using for my Sartoria Cornacchia pale-grey suit here.

Although it's not that important to me, some readers also mentioned that they like vertical integration. For them, VBC is (like most big Italian mills) highly integrated, doing all the spinning for this cloth themselves as well as the weaving.

That's particularly challenging on a heavier high-twist like this, as two two-ply yarns have to be created, before both then being twisted together again to make the four-ply.

The shoes are my (very) dark-brown oxfords from Cleverley: the first shoe I had made bespoke, and a nice match the dark-brown buttons of the suit.

[There is a full series on the stage-by-stage making of these here.]

They've worn well, except for their tendency to throw up a salt stain at the first sign of precipitation (something I largely put down to the thin soles).

You can also see above how there was too much fullness through the arch of my foot initially - subsequently changed for my next pair, black imitation-wingtips.

The other accessories are socks from Bresciani, Permanent Style cufflinks in white pearl, and my Cartier Chronoflex watch on a bespoke strap from Jean Rousseau.

The suit was part of a recent feature for Japanese magazine Men's Precious looking at three recent Italian suits of mine - thank you Yoshimi Hasegawa for your help there.

Photography by Jamie Ferguson at the Traveller's Club in London.

I couldn't find the same tie online from Marinella, but let me know if you spot it anywhere.

In the meantime Viola Milano seems to have the biggest range of printed silks with a white ground.

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Tony Gosso

Close, but the choice of tie is wrong. Too much pattern, and it’s the colour of the pattern rather than the background colour which is attracting attention.

A much more subtle pattern, and more toward silvery grey than white would give you a much better outcome, but directionally you are getting there.

Tony Gosso

Thanks Simon. I note you are doing this for the first time. I’ve been wearing like this around Palermo since the 80’s. Good if you could accept the possibility to learn from others sometimes.

James

This comment is astonishingly rude. As if there is some kind of rule book that this random gentleman has access and can mark anyone else against?

This comment could have been phrased as “In my view..” and then have left of the patronising ending, and it would have been pretty much acceptable. But as it is? In my view, not.

I appreciate your openness and lack of censorship as regards the comments, Simon, but I do think that these kind of comments should not be approved for posting. Having them here gives oxygen to these kind of entitled close-to-trolls, and I feel lowers the tone of the comments section generally creating (in parts) an atmosphere akin to that of some of the more toxic Internet forums which PS always wonderfully avoids.

I would much rather be writing my thoughts on the suit and tie combo than this kind of naval gazing on comment section. Just my two pence. Perhaps I am the one who needs to let things go…

Lee

Just want to throw in another +1 to James’ comment. I’m not going to say anything he hasn’t already said, but to reiterate, it’s admirable that you keep such an open comment section. However, this kind of tone just lowers the whole atmosphere around here. It discourages reasonable people from posting. Just look at what’s happened with Christian Chensvold’s Ivy Style blog. The comment section is often cantankerous and mean spirited. So the only people left are people who are likeminded or the rare few who push back against such attitudes. Reasonable people have left and stopped reading the blog entirely. About 85% of the value from your posts come from your writing, Simon. Then the rest comes from the comment section. If the comment section is rude and unpleasant, however, people just skip it entirely. Or worse, as Scot Schuman pointed out in your last symposium, associate this stuff with judgmental, rude, and unpleasant people. It then just becomes the same people over and over again, with a continuing flaking off of the audience as time passes, but never new blood coming in. For some reason, I’ve noticed that your site attracts some really rude people (I imagine that comes with the audience size). I’m sure they’ll continue to live on at other sites, but I see no reason to give them air here. Critics will say this tamps down on dissenting views, but reasonable people know how to give criticism in a polite and cheerful manner.

Charlie

I’m with you James – absolutely ridiculous comment to post.

Anonymous

I completely agree with this Gentleman. Way too often lately were seeing people comment here really innapropriately and quite simply put it’s unacceptable.

Style is subjective after all.

I don’t personally like everything that you wear commission talk about on this website and I’m sure most men here are the same but for the most part Simon you’re doing a great job please keep it up and don’t let people like this fella and others put you off.

Philip

Tony Gosso is just being a petulant little girl. The suit looks brilliant – in my view, the best you have commissioned (up there with your first Cifonelli). I’m planning to try Ciardi on the back of this.

A.

I’ve never tried with a pale blue shirt. I often pair a white tie with a white shirt and blue suit. As soon as i saw in a shop’s window I fall in love with it: it’s very nice for slightly more formal occasion…

Alex

I loved this suit when you first posted about it and I can certainly understand why your client gravitated towards it. In these pictures the rise of the trousers appears a little lower than your usual – just wondering how you feel about that and whether you have a ‘standard’ rise you go for or vary according to the style of the suit/maker in question?

Don Ferrando

Definetly a very nice and equilibrated combination of colours IMHO!
I like the Ciardi suit. Only the patched pockets are too casual for this suit.

Chin-Chen Lee

Somehow I think I see this combination a lot more often in Japan, and have never saw it in either London or NYC.

Ps though the ones I see in Japan are usually tie that’s a bit less busy

Alex

Just out of curiosity, Simon, do you feel the patch pockets work against the suit’s versatility for business/professional use, or does the relative formality in colour/texture/construction as well as the shirt/tie choice counteract the presence of patch pockets?

Alex

Thanks for the response, Simon. Things seem to have gotten a bit shouty in the comments here, so I appreciate your willingness to respond even to more inane questions

anon

In one photo it appears you are wearing the tie with the back blade longer…how very iGent

Z

Simon, a tie that is too long can (easily) be shortened.

hugh

“bespoke though”

This is the best answer in my view. With Sam Hober, Shibumi Firenze, Drakes, and E.G. Cappelli all offering reasonably priced mtm/ bespoke ties, I now find no reason at all to buy an off the peg tie. The only rtw ties I’ve purchased recently have been vintage ancient madders, which I find have a more subtle colour palette and chalkier handle than modern madders, and knit ties. The ability to get the correct length and width for a small up charge is, in my view, always worth it. If you’re paying £3k+ for a suit it seems silly to not pay £125 for a tie that’s the correct length.

Burt

Interesting, I didn’t even think about that. The only issue might be however that if you have trousers cut with different rise – e.g. suit trousers vs. sports trousers – you still end up needing different lenghts of ties.
On a side note, I found waistcoats to be practical and comfortable garments, as a positive side effect they make every discussion about tie length totally redundant 🙂

Anonymous

In the case of a tie thats simply too long for you is it not better to have the blades as even length as possible (or the tuck the back blade in, though personally don’t like this).

Both being 1.5cm too long feels better in my head than the front being right but the rear being c3.5cm too long

Shoddy

One other option would be to tie the knot in a way which uses a tiny bit more length. For my own part I woud regard not having the back blade longer than the front to be a higher priority rule than having the tip of the front blade in line with the trousers. The latter has never IMHO been a hard and fast rule (bearing in mind the varation in rise of trousers) nor does a minor transgression stand out in the way that a visible back blade does.

Christopher Lee

For ties that are longer, depending on the thickness of the fabric (i.e., on a light tie), I’ve simply done a double four-in-hand with minimal impact on the appearance of the knot–perhaps a bit of added sprezzatura. I’ve also had a few altered at the tailors, and they did a decent job of taking a bit off the thin end without affecting the shape for $15.

GONZAGUE

– wondering how you can feel ok wearing a 390g dark cloth suit on a hot italian day. I experienced that beyond about 22C, my 310g wool cloth jacket over a shirt starts feeling too warm.
– I find it odd to ask for a suit with patch pockets and rounded quarters+shoulders especially in that colour.
– white stains: that is the kind of issues I wish was dealt with on the videos on polishing
(Sorry that today I am all negative)

Oliver

Interesting to hear about your personal consultancy sessions. How long have you been doing that for? What have you learned – if anything – while doing these sessions?

O

Phil

I think this is nice, it’s unexpected and therefore curious and quite pleasing. And why not try something different now and again? Here is Japan pure white ties with a white shirt and a black suit are common at weddings. I think it looks awful, but, as you say, keep an open mind.

David

Simon,
I’m curious about your decision for patch pockets on this particular suit given its use primarily for business purposes. In hindsight would you do this again or perhaps go with flap? I do like patch generally and find it especially works well with neopolitan jackets but do find it just a bit incongruous with the cloth here.

Chris

Dear Simon,
you mentioned that you needed a couple of experiments until you found the combination that pleased you most. I am just curious as to how you do these kinds of experiments. Do you just try out different combinations “in the field” or are you deliberately putting things together just at home in your wardrobe in an “experiment session” when you obtain a new interesting item?

Nick Inkster

Firstly I agree with other posters that Gosso is not joining in the spirit of this site and I admire your restraint Simon.

Personally the white tie/blue shirt combo is not something I would go for, but a silvery tie with white shirt and dark blue suit is something I often put together and actually think it works best for an informal evening gathering.

Anonymous

Just want to say a wonderful post.

WES WP

After several years of coming to your website I’m just as inspired by you Simon. Full stop.

Martin

Why did you choose tree button cuffs? Are they more typically Neapolitan than four?

Anonymous

Worth remembering that some people have differing cultural backgrounds: to a Brit. Tony Gosso may seem brash – to a NYer – just straightforward. Re. white ties in Japan they have a certain spiritual value missed by Westerners (for the same reason white and pearl coloured cars are popular) black is seen as the most formal colour and not necessarily seen as funereal. Differing approaches due to culture and sensitivities. On tie length – Simon I’m confused – your taller than me but when my ties are tied the points sit on the waistband – neither too short or long – are you buying unusually long ties?

Andi

My apologies, but I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of wearing a white tie; if it’s done wrong, it can look terribly cheap, and even if it’s done right (as seen above), it does not offer any real advantage over a dark blue/grey/brown tie. other than the fact that it’s ‘something different’. It does make your face look a bit more tanned though, so there’s that.

Ben

Loved the suit when I saw the original post. Love the suit still.

Joseph

And just like that, with one well-written post, you’ve dispelled my misgivings about wearing a white tie. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were a magician.

The ensemble grows on me by the minute. Ironically, it’s the color of the suit and not the tie that gives me pause. I have reservations about wearing such a dark grey on a sunny day, but I can see how it might work especially with the pale shirt and tie.

Jason

I’m not a fan of this outfit but can’t make up my mind if it’s the suit, the accessories or the fact that it looks very contrived.
We’ve all been in a room with a guy who has done everything right, yet nothing is right and it all winds up looking sort of bland. I think this is it.
Personally I’d never wear this shirt and tie combo and I don’t like cuff links and pocket squares so the accessories fail the test. Albeit, I do like the socks.
More than this, the suit just doesn’t do it for me.
OK, the patch pockets on something this formal are a mistake and maybe it’s the photography but the cloth just seems to lack texture.
I don’t know …….. just bland ……. bring back the A&S DB Simon. I think that’s the one for you when it comes to the formal stuff.

Thomas

Say Simon, just a quick question since their website seems to be lagging reality quite a bit again while you are typically two steps ahead: When I was last in London I noticed with dismay that the Marinella shop in Maddox Street is closed; do you happen to know if there is another one? Or will be?

Thanks
Thomas

Anonymous

Many thanks for the quick reply. As ever.

Lee

i love everything about that combo. I bought a not too dissimilar tie from Drakes last year. Afraid funds don’t permit a suit like yours, but def on my wish list

Alf

Simon,

Your usual measured and considered tone enables the sometimes mildly ‘hectoring’ posts to be put in context. Of course a philosophy of ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ should be encouraged, but as with many areas where expertise is welcome, clothes and how to dress (that’s a bit over-simplified so forgive me) often needs a guiding hand to assist the constant reviewing process. Once more, well done, and your broad shoulders help all of us to continue enjoying what is, after all, a passion that makes life just that bit more enjoyable.

Russ

This blog post shows us two things – don’t be afraid to push the boundaries (and isn’t that really what changes to fashion trends are all about?) and also that politeness trumps rudeness every time. Keep up the good work, Simon. I might even send you another limerick!

Bill

Hang on a sec… There seems to be a lot of noise about your white tie. Um, am I colorblind, dense, or just missing something? To be sure, white is the predominant color, but it’s not that it’s “overwhelmingly” white; white is just the background. Enough splitting hairs, my rule-of-thumb when I’m in doubt is to go, from body outwards, light to dark. My shirt will always be lighter than my tie (and will also be lighter than my suit). Your combo pushes this but does not violate it.

DE

Hi Simon, some strong opinions today! I wonder how much your ‘larger than normal’ wardrobe makes decisions like trying a white tie a worthwhile experiment – as a talking point as well as something you feel works? I’m guessing that a white tie wasn’t the first tie you ever purchased (particularly when regular readers of PS will know your love of navy ties!). If you were starting a tie collection from scratch and purchasing the ties one at a time, what number would a white tie like this one be? Thanks for such an interesting post.

Alan Bee

Simon,

I have followed with keen interest, the exchange regarding Tony Gosso’s commentary. Worse than attracting trolls, the bigger danger as I see it on this blog is attracting “yes men” who build around you a cult of personality. This would be entirely counterproductive.

I have also noticed that like many of us, you don’t seem to take criticism too well. Surely, you are polite, and dare I say sophisticated enough, to make these rejections of “anything not Simon” seem gracious. Still, it is glaringly obvious to the discerning that you can be very obstinate, wedded firmly to your own ideas, and not very open to outside counsel. While that in and of itself is not a problem and can even be a virtue, when you run an open platform such as this blog, it might be helpful to be more (sincerely) accommodating.

It is not my place to suggest to you how to run your blog. I am a frequent visitor on here and have to say the developing cult of personality around Simon takes away from the experience of a healthy and objective debate. I’d sooner join my local communist party if I was after a cult of personality experience.

Alan Bee

Martin Taylor

Spot on Alan.

The latest video posting shows you drinking your espresso as if you are some kind of idol. I agree that the cult of Simon is becoming very much more apparent in a lot of what you do.

Given that you began your journey relatively recently writing about your experiences with bespoke tailoring, it is simply too much of a stretch to accept that you are, albeit self appointed, a style arbiter.

That so many postings on here are shockingly naive in their content is testament to that; people writing in to ask you very basic questions which you seem happy to answer. Yet when you get a bit of a challenge from participants who seem to have a very good handle on all things sartorial which don’t accord with your own view on life, the answers, whilst polite, are a touch condescending.

In addition, many acolytes jump to your defence expressing concern that anybody would be so bold as to challenge you.

A pity. What you have to say about most things is becoming less and less relevant to folk who already have a confident and long experience of dressing well.

Anonymous

Simon,

Just for the avoidance of any doubt, I truly admire your work. I create content myself. Granted, mine isn’t a full-time endeavor, but I appreciate the effort that goes into creating top grade content. You have built yourself up over the years and dare I say, become a leading voice on the subject.

You may not remember me but I sidled up against you at Pitti 93 for a photo in the main pavilion where you had on your brown Liverano Ulster.

We can turn this into a court room deposition by asking me to provide evidence of my assertion. But that would be sadly missing the point. I have, and continue to benefit from your good work. I have absolutely no interest in maligning or otherwise discrediting your efforts.

ALF in his response below, if I understand it correctly suggests, “well, it’s Simon’s blog and he can do whatever he fancies. And if you don’t like it, take a hike”. Indeed, that is a fair point. But that would be self-defeating if your aim is to build an all inclusive audience.

I think @MARTIN TAYLOR has taken his response below a bit too far. But I truly can understand where he’s coming from even if he is less than polite in his delivery.

Back to citations – I could go back and commission a “search” on instances to support my claim but take it for what its worth. You occasionally get quite defensive which betrays something of a thin-skin. You are a trained financial journalist and I would be excused for expecting far more from you.

No one, including myself can impugn your bonafides and you should know that. Worse still, your defensiveness (unwittingly perhaps) further emboldens your “supporters” or “groupies” if I were to be more crass, to launch full scale verbal assaults on any perceived threats to your hegemony. And of course, you will tell me you have no control over this mob and have no license to “leash” your dogs.

But in end, their behavior is encouraged by your own obstinacy and as someone else said, sometimes condescending manner towards opinion challengers.

Again Simon, I am in your corner. I want you to succeed because I benefit directly and indirectly from your success. I just want this to be a place I return to without the fear of running into rabid dogs.

Best wishes,

Alan Bee

Russ

White tie and blue shirt with a suit
Is a combination that’s moot
To love it or hate
Makes for lively debate
But who cares if my girl thinks it’s cute?

Alf

Having read Alan Bee’s post a couple of times, just so I correctly understood his opinion, I’m left with the view that Alan has taken mild umbrage with the very reason for being that this blog exists. I fail to see how Simon can avoid being on the front foot where illustrating an idea or opinion is concerned. There’s also the not inconsequential thought that Simon earns a living because of PS. It’s his baby so to speak, and for what it’s worth, I take no offence at Simon’s preference in assuming the role of model, commentator, influencer etc. Considering the quality threshold that Simon has arrived at, no doubt through a process of evolution and correction, the need to be cost effective, and to remain interesting and relevant, I wonder why anyone would suggest there’s a cult of personality surrounding Simon? Simon acts as a conduit, his passion and enthusiasm for detail is compelling and informative, and if it seems that those of us who value Simon’s opinions are somehow reduced to some type of slavish adoration then I’m more than happy to reject this assertion.

Personally I’m intrigued by much of what Simon chooses to write about, it doesn’t mean that I share all of his views or suggestions, but I am thankful that there’s someone willing to put in the time to inform and spread the word. As I wrote in an earlier post, any blog that centres around something so specialised has an in-built need to ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’. Isn’t this reflected in this particular part of the blog? We’re invited to comment, share, disagree, and I doubt that Simon is so consumed with himself that he edits or censors just because a post is what you might refer to as ‘disagreeable’. All I see is balance, no more or less. I live in the sticks, Sheffield to be precise, and as much as I enjoy this part of the world, it’s not exactly a centre of cosmopolitan existence, but I’ve travelled, the result being that my tastes are very much in synch with the essence of this blog. Long may Simon continue with PS and his willingness to open a window on those artisans and craftsmen (and women) who make PS what it is.

Oskar

I wasn’t aware that white ties were a more frequent sight in Japan, but I did like the twist you put on the white tie theme while in Japan yourself a while back:comment image

That image/outfit is captured a bit better in your print Style Guide, and it did send an off-white/cream knit tie straight to my Christmas wish list. I imagine a knit (with a tiny bit of cream in the colour) to be more versatile than a wait-for-the-sun white silk. Curious if that knit would get a lower index than 15-20 in your tie list.

Konrad

Simon – can you pls share a good source for Bresciani socks?

Matt Spaiser

I like this outfit, and I’m trying to figure out why. I almost always wear dark-coloured ties, and I have no ties with a white ground. I have a few light-coloured ties, but I always wear those with white or predominantly white shirts. I think this tie works because of the large black and navy dots. The tie overall reads as silver from a distance, so I don’t think of this as a white tie. Do you have any general tips for wearing light-coloured ties?

MH

I think this an incredibly stylish combination, Simon. Reminds me slightly of the blue shirt and textured silver tie combination (much loved in the investment banking world in the 1990s) which I think looked terrific. I love it.

Anonymous

Hi Simon, I thought it might be useful to address the ‘feedback’ in a more constructive way. In my experience, as a long term reader, harsh feedback usually relates to certain articles: RTW selections, particularly connected to a fashion commentary; unusual ensembles or items; issues in the comments section; the ‘business’ of fashion esp. relating to supply chain (Ralph Lauren etc.). I think fashion is nebulous, as such hard and fast rules are an anathema. Unusual items seem to challenge the perhaps more conservative (rules based) aesthetic of some readers. The comments section is tricky: I’m grateful for the generosity and patience you show. For some readers, who share from experience, I think insult is sometimes taken if the experience, and not necessarily the viewpoint, is discounted. (maybe there is another approach that might be taken acknowledging that your own opinion is also valid?). The last point on the business of fashion is the most dangerous: as PS moves forward it, understandably, become slightly more commercial – it is in the nature of all businesses. The challenge is to balance growing monetisation with editorial neutrality – whilst retaining readership – old and new. The issue isn’t your balance but the direction of content (more luxe?) – which raises questions in some readers minds about commercialism (or for newer readers the issues of sponsorship, discounting etc.). You have done an amazing job with PS, I greatly admire your achievement. I hope the above sets some context to the comments ‘storm’. Nothing much needs to change but understanding the patterns, and perhaps underlying reasons, of challenging or negative comments may, I hope, be helpful.

Alf

Anon’s comment about the potential for a more commercial PS has merit, but from what I’ve seen your editorial antennae will manage to walk a line that continues to inform without diluting whatever it is that makes PS so interesting to ‘groupies’ such as myself.

One of the issues that may create some type of alarm amongst those whose appetite for clothes is at what might be referred to as the refined end of the spectrum, is whether you’re attempting to vie away from whatever PS began life as. Somehow I doubt it. Difference, as in luxe, shouldn’t be rejected out of hand. Surely it’s about the degree of integration, rather than appearing to swamp PS with the notion of luxe. For what it’s worth, my trust in your ability to inform means that I don’t concern myself with the introduction of something that may act as a ‘style irritant’ to other posters. Critiquing PS does no harm whatsoever, it’s when those possessed of a (supposedly) rareified filter wish to jump on your attempts to continue to inform and share. Personally I fail to understand some of these concerns, so please file under ‘Storm in a teacup’.

Anonymous

Simon, would you wear the white pear cufflinks with a white shirt? Trying to decide between these and the grey… thanks.

Christian Riedl

Well. At end, the right colour or pattern is the one you like. Not the one others prefer. So, take what you like.

Anonymous

Would you recommend this fabric in navy for a business suit? I find navy fabrics in twill may be hard wearing, but get a bit shiny fairly quickly.

hugh

Simon,

You say that this has become your default dark, business suit primarily due to the cloth. Would this cloth in this color, done up by W&S, be an appropriate first step up into bespoke? I have a good enough navy MTM but a pretty terrible grey RTW that I am looking to upgrade.

thanks,
-hugh

Tro Manoukian

I’m very pleased to read this article, Simon. You may know all classic Marinella ties are actually printed in Cheshire. The factory is partially owned by Marinella. We would happily extend you an invitation to visit.

Andrew Lewis

Dear Simon,

Can you please post a close up picture of the tie? I?d love to see if I can find one like it myself. Is it one of these? https://www.emarinella.com/?s=white&post_type=product

Thanks very much in advance!
Best wishes,
Andrew