Neckties Return to the ‘40s Look : Wider Styles Match Lapels

Although thin may always be in when it comes to body types, that’s not the case with neckties. This fall, wide is beautiful.

“Wide ties are very in right now and I’ll tell you why,” said Rick Amundson, clothing consultant at C&R; Clothiers in North Hollywood, where ties are from $15 to $30. “The width of the tie matches the width of the coat lapel. In the early ‘80s, when coats had thin lapels, men wore thin ties to go with it. Both the ties and the lapels are a good 3 inches wide now.”

At Rick Pallack in Sherman Oaks, owner and designer Pallack says the wide ties match not only the wider lapels but the entire wider, fuller clothing silhouette.

“It’s the whole look of the 1940s--broader shoulders, looser, fuller shirts, pleated pants, wider lapels and heavier shoes with broader toes and thicker soles,” said Pallack, whose ties sell at $20 to $49. “Over the next year or two, the standard width of every man’s tie will be 3 1/2 inches.”


At Harris and Frank in Northridge, where ties sell at $20 to $50, Terry Holden said: “Some customers are saying that they’re sorry they threw out their wide ties--it’s similar to what the ladies say about wishing they’d hung on to their old short skirts or long skirts.”

This newest version of the wide tie comes in bold, eye-catching patterns and colors.

“We have a lot of big paisleys and a lot of big squares, geometric patterns on top of stripes. It’s really a power look,” Amundson said.

Along with bold geometric and wild abstract patterns, Pallack’s ties carry the ‘40s motif one step further with art deco- and vintage-inspired prints, including florals. “Black backgrounds are very popular with every kind of color mixed in,” he said. “We have brown and black, taupe and black, teal and black--and a lot of the vintage ‘40s colors: browns and burgundies and lime greens.”


And why has the wide tie returned? “It’s not any one person who makes the decision,” said Pallack. “Most of the menswear people gradually decided. It’s kind of like in women’s skirts when the hemlines change. We do it to stimulate changes in business and to create fresh new looks.”

Jimmy Encao, 36, owner of the hair salon Papillon in Studio City, sports a variety of wide ties. He cites the recent movies “Tucker--The Man and His Dream” and “The Untouchables” as fashion influences. “It’s nice to get back to the ‘40s,” he said. “The wide tie reminds me of all those ties they wore in the old gangster movies. It’s great.”

Encao pairs his wide ties with white shirts and completes the look with a tie pin. “I try to look for antique tie pins to go with the antique look of the wide tie,” he said.

However, the tie is not as, well, widely accepted in other parts of the country.

“I was recently working in Texas and they weren’t ready for it, that’s for sure,” Encao said. “They looked at me with a really strange look in their eye. I think they just wear cowboy clothes there.”

George McGrath, 32, an actor and writer who lives in Studio City, is a skinny-tie wearer who will not convert to the new look. “I love my skinny ties. Psychologically, I think they make me look better. . . . I think they show more shirt. They look neater, less office wear. Most of the time when you wear a tie, it looks like you should be in some office. Skinny ties make you look as if you are wearing a tie because you want to, not because you have to.”

McGrath, who appears in the movie “Punchline,” said, “I would never wear a wide tie except as a joke . . . as a character or something.”

But show business talent representative Scott Schwartz, 34, who lives in Woodland Hills, owns a collection of 15 wide ties. “I wear a wide tie to work, and people say, ‘Great tie!’ I get a lot of compliments on them,” he said.


“The wide tie goes back to a romantic era that I really like,” Schwartz said. “I’m an agent, so I really like that look of old Hollywood. Right now, I’m wearing a gray and turquoise flowered-print wide tie. It reminds me of something Cary Grant might have worn.”

Schwartz used to wear skinny ties, but he explains his wide-tie transformation this way: “The human condition is, you’re in a state of euphoria when you wear new clothes and, after a while, you need that freshening again--especially when you’re in a creative business like mine.”

Seipp is a Beverly Hills free-lance writer.