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In Defense of the Motif Tie

Some may assume that I would not be the biggest fan of the motif tie, given my penchant for, and always writing about a drive toward seriousness and simplicity. But, they would would be wrong. I love a good motif tie. I think they fit in a very particular place in our wardrobe and help the right outfits along in all the right ways. Not only can they be a perfect splash of fun, they can also be the perfect tie for a tough outfit, sitting right in between the plain knit tie and the rep tie.

Some people don't like motif ties, they sometimes deridingly call them novelty ties. While there are novelty ties that exist, a classic motif tie is not a novelty tie. The motif tie has been around for a very long time, it isn't some new flash in the pan, goofball, joke of a necktie. I am looking at a picture in a Brooks Brothers history book right now, it is a picture of a Brooks Brothers storefront form the 1920s and in addition to classic rep ties, there are also a few motif ties on display as well.

To me, there are different factors which determine whether or not I like a certain motif tie. The colors, the motif itself, how complex vs simple is the design of the motif, what is the spacing like etc... For me, I like the simple motifs as well as the more complex, those motifs made up of one single color, and those made up of multiple colors. I generally like the motifs to be spaced fairly wide, that is a preference I generally have. Although, I also have some with motifs pushed a bit closer. Nevertheless, I generally prefer a bit more space.

It is true that motif ties are supposed to be a bit fun. They aren't dour. The motif tie is not the black knit tie. There is some life, joviality and fun in them. Also seasonality. Depending on the motif, some ties are for winter, some for autumn, some summer and some spring. Yet, they aren't a joke. These aren't novelty ties that turn you and your presentation into one big joke. They are fun, but not a gag. And, they are traditional. They are not new. These ties have a firm, solid place in our style world.

As mentioned earlier, sometimes the motif tie is the perfect tie for a tough outfit. With a navy blazer or any other solid sport coat, you can wear a solid shirt and you can essentially take your pick of many rep ties and they will work wonderfully. But, let's say that you are wearing a sport coat with a fairly rich or detailed pattern, a beautiful glen check with a few colors in the fabric - the selection of rep ties available for you to choose shrinks. Sometimes, it can shrink to nothing at all. There are coats which are so particular that essentially no rep tie you own will work.

The obvious solution is often the solid knit tie. This is true and I love the knit tie for this reason. But, let's say you don't want to wear a knit tie. You want something a bit "more", for lack of a better word. In this situation, the motif tie can be a perfect option. There is some greater degree of complexity, color and fun. Depending on the tie and the sport coat combination, you avoid the problem of the patterns clashing due to their size being too similar and too directly in opposition to each other. Your motif will most certainly appear more fine, small and detailed than your pattern on your coat. This, I think is a perfect place to wear the motif tie.

The same thing goes for shirts. It can be hard to wear certain rep ties with [non blue] university stripes. Of course, again, the knit tie is a perfect solution. But, the motif tie is also a great solution and brings some additional life and lightness to the outfit at the same time. There, in every instance with the motif tie, is also an element of accepting and embracing a sort of mis-matched-ness as well. The motif will stand out from any shirt and any sport coat. There is no doubt about that. It is a fun kind of friction-tension. The motif tie is a sort of embracing of [a very good] light and flippant tension. It is a kind of carefree push and pull, when done right.

I love the motif tie. Some days I feel like I actually like it more than the rep tie! I am always on the look out for different, unique, hard to find motifs. Sitting right in this very particular spot, helping along a certain outfit in need and bringing a light, jovial, fun sort of wink and nod, all while done in a traditional, acceptable and established way, the motif tie is one of my staples that I always find myself reaching for.

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