19 November 2010

The English Gentleman: The Old School Tie

The Old School Tie

One of the most distinctive items of a gentleman's wardrobe is his collection of ties. They are always of a quiet design with the exception of the MCC tie if he happens to have been a cricketer. This is the most vulgar of all club ties and he wears it with a certain amount of embarrassment when the Test Matches are on. He always has a black tie to wear on Armistice Day and there is, of course, his regimental tie and his old school tie. Etonians wear their school tie much more frequently and ostentatiously than gentlemen who went to other schools. There is the story of the socially ambitious young man who had not been to Eton, but wished he had, who spotted a man selling matches in the street wearing the coveted tie. To show off his knowledge to his girl friend he stopped and demanded: 'What the devil do you mean by wearing an Old Etonian tie?' 'Because,' replied the other equably, 'I cannot afford to buy a new one.'

Although in the course of his life a gentleman is apt to collect a large number of club and other institutional ties, it is not really done to wear them except when attending the function to which they are appropriate. Bow ties largely went out of fashion with the death of Sir Winston Churchill, just as buttonholes declined in popularity after the Great Greenfly plague.

The English Gentleman, Douglas Sutherland (1978)


A.E.F. said...

Admiral, OE's wear their tie a lot because being black and light blue it goes with almost everything unlike the tie you would own if you went to say, Lancing or Uppingham.

Reggie Darling said...

I wear my Old Shirburnian (I don't know why it's spelled that way, given the school is Sherborne) tie once or twice a year, always when attending the OSS dinner held in New York, but that doesn't happen all that often. It's really quite beautiful. There are (or at least were) two OS ties, one "city" and the other "country" in colors appropriate for both. I only retain the city one, having misplaced the country one years ago.

As AEF writes, one would wear an OE tie more often, given its elegance and--I admit--association. Marvelous story about the match seller.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful picture. Marvellous English style - why can't we all dress like this?

Chretien Stuffbucket.

Bowman Kelley said...

I agree about the OE tie, Black and light blue goes well with almost anything except a brown suit, but who wears those?