Cereal. A toothbrush. Gold-rimmed gnome plates. A giant ceramic chicken. Strawberry Shortcake pyjamas for a 13-year-old boy. A single napkin ring. A plastic lock shaped like a toilet. Packets of ketchup and mustard. And, of course, bad ties.
These are just a few selections of the most useless gifts ever as collected by the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Bad Tie Boycott program. The idea is to give gifts that don’t suck, for instance, the Gift of Canadian Nature (giftsofnature.ca). It includes a symbolic gift of an acre of Canadian land, with funds going to support the good work the NCC does.
But it got us thinking. Ties don’t just adorn the necks of suits anymore, they can be a hallmark of hipness. What does it take to find a quality tie, as opposed to a bad one? We went to the experts, some of Halifax’s premiere tie merchants.
“Certainly ties play on taste,” says Jeff Piccott, manager at Dugger’s Mens Wear (5476 Spring Garden Road, 425-2525), but he points out three key elements that make for a good tie. One, the lining: “It’s what you don’t see but you feel usually when you touch it, the stability of the liner.” Two, the silk: “The guts to it, the quality of the silk.” And three, the stitching. “When you knot a tie, hand-stitching will fold over and make a nicer knot.”
Piccott suggests a number of brands in his store, such as Talbott and Ted Baker, but calls Canadian neckwear maker Dion “the best tie maker in the country.” Dion’s ties are available for $98 at Duggers.
Raad Daniel at The Suitor Clothing Company (1535 Dresden Row, 429-7979) concurs on the subject of tie construction being key. “How it was made, whether it’s a one-piece or a two-piece,” he elaborates. “It shows a difference in the draping off the neck. You can spot a cheap tie a mile away.”
Daniel brings in silk-tipped ties, where the backing of the tie isn’t polyester but made out of the same silk as the tie itself. “It helps with draping and to tie a bigger knot,” he says.
He recommends the three-inch wide Stefano Conti ties---popular with current slim-fit trends---which average at $60 each.
At Vogue’s Men’s Wear & Tailoring (2097 Gottingen Street, 423-6504), owner Nick Dimitropoulos also espouses the theory that you can tell a good tie in its feel, while colour trends change often. “At Christmas we do a lot of red,” he says with a chuckle.
Vogue also carries the quality Canadian Dion brand at competitive prices, as well as the American label DiCapri, in a lovely purple shade for $50, “a very good tie for the price.”