The knit tie is not just a cold-weather staple. Though a lot of print tie makers make their nut in summer months, when men rock whale- and paisley-patterned ties at weddings, there are plenty of sunny situations unsuited to such extravagance. That's when the lightweight knit tie is ready to pinch hit.
"The seasonality of knit ties all depends on the yarn," explains Paul Trible, the CEO and co-founder of Ledbury. A grey cashmere in the winter is the perfect match for a heavier wool suit, while a light cotton linen blend works perfectly with a summer blazer."
The problem with printed ties, which Trible describes as "bold statement pieces that are made to stand out," is that they call attention to themselves and away from the whole warm-weather outfit. On the other hand, "knitted ties are a little more subtle and are made to complement your entire look." The knit tie is, in short, formal enough to demonstrate respect, but casual enough to showcase your suit, which shoulder be making a louder statement than your neckwear.
That said, there's still a science to pairing the right knit tie with the right outfit. "There is an incredible amount of variety that can be found in the different fabrics, yarn blends, and weaves," says Trible, who recommends a loose cotton-silk weave. "When buying a knit tie look at the width – under three inches – yarn – can't go wrong with a cotton blend – and weave – looser weaves provide a great hint of texture."
There are different ways to go. Ben Silver has bright colors enough to satisfy your clash cravings. Ralph Lauren does too, but with a loose weave that will lay more comfortably on the rougher textures like linen. Hermes even has a knit, though both the weave and the color are tighter and more subdued. Ledbury's light blue Hudson Knit tie fits beach and bayside respectively, and works with a range of summer shirt, sportcoat and suit combinations. [$85; ledbury.com]