Ties with Stripes – which direction?

First of all, if you are reading this post because you’re curious to know if horizontal or (gasp) vertical stripes are appropriate for neckties, let’s get this out of the way now…

No! If you own or were given a tie with either horizontal or vertical stripes, throw it away. Now. Don’t even donate it to Goodwill because not even they want ties with horizontal or vertical stripes. They are ugly. They are not in style. They have never been in style. They never will be.

There’s actually a reason as to why (has to do with how a tie is cut), but I won’t bore you with the details. Just apologize to me for even wondering if you can wear horizontal or vertical stripes, and let’s move on.

Ok then. Diagonal stripes can move in two directions. There’s different ways to describe them – “positive slope vs. negative slope”, “right to left vs. left to right”, “to the heart vs. away from the heart”, etc. For this discussion, I’ll use the terms “right to left” (stripes going downward from the upper left to the lower right) vs. left to right” (stripes going upward from the bottom left to the upper right).

Read that again because it can sound confusing.


Ok. So why don’t tie designers like us have a ‘standard’ way of making stripes? Because we’re bored and we like to make you guys look into everything we do.

Actually, there’s a historical reason as to why stripes go in two different directions. Again, I’m not here to give you a history lesson (mainly because I’ll get a bunch of angry emails telling me that something may have happened in the year 1674 instead of 1764. And I hate emails like that.)

But here we are in 2008, and stripes are indeed going in different directions. The right to left direction is the “American way” of doing stripes. No, this didn’t start over nationalistic anger similar to the whole “freedom fries” movement in 2001. Let’s just say, that’s where we’re at now. And it’s universally accepted.

The left to right direction is the “European way” of doing stripes. And many ties here in the U.S. do indeed have stripes going in this direction, regardless of where they may have been designed or made.

This begs the question – what’s the “Asian way” of doing stripes? Or the “Antartican way” of doing stripes? Great question. Anyone living in either of those continents can feel free to chime in at any time. But if you’re a bigger smartass than I am, I may not post it.

So which way is more common? Which direction stripes should you, Mr. Wall Street/Mr. Lawyer/Mr. Guy Who Likes to Dress Up for Work, wear? The answer is clear:

Who cares.

Yes, who cares? Why do you care? Seriously. Why are you choosing one over the other? There are some “tie snobs” who prefer the European way because that’s just the tie snob way. To them, I say “give me a better reason, jackass.” But most others just choose the tie style, color and/or construction that they like, and the direction of the stripes are inconsequential. And that’s how you should be to.

For reference (since we most recently discussed the tie-wearing habits of our two presidential candidates), let’s look at the most recent presidential debate. Both candidates were wearing “European” stripes. But Bob Schieffer and Charles Gibson were wearing “American” stripes. So whomever you think is more qualified (and some would argue the latter two), is perhaps the person that you should emmulate.

For what it’s worth, our company goes with “American” stripes. Why?

Who cares!


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