As anyone who wears one clearly knows, a tie is the nonessential essential. It is the finishing touch. It is the accessory, simply stated, that makes all the difference.

And the difference in today’s tie has created a furor far out of proportion to its size in the scheme of things. Though the jump from two-to five-inch tie width has been startling in some circles, size isn’t what it’s all about. Wider ties demand more dashing designs and more exotic fabric.

Ties—Picking Them:

Ties and shirts go together. They should be considered as a combination. To eliminate some of the chance involved in picking right combinations for you, here are a few general suggestions.

1. Wear a solid shirt with any kind of solid, striped, or patterned tie as long as the shirt repeats at least one of the tie’s colors. The reverse also works. Most plain ties look good with patterned shirts.

2. Though color is the element that binds shirts and ties into a coordinated whole, opposites in pattern size seem to attract. Ties with small prints or designs go with wide-striped shirts and vice versa.

3. For more daring souls who want both shirt and tie to have big, bold patterns, choose colors that are less intense. Here again, at least one color should be repeated in the tie-shirt combination.

Caring for Ties:

A tie’s life, good looks, and enjoyment to you will be greatly enhanced if you take proper care of it. Here are a few hints:

1. Keep your ties free of wrinkles. Untie the knot when you take a tie off. Leaving it tied can cause permanent wrinkles.

Allow ties to hang two or three days between wearings. During this time most wrinkles will fall out. If the wrinkles do not fall out or if you need to wear a tie that is wrinkled, try hanging it in a steamy room for an hour or so, such as the bathroom while you shower and shave. It should look like a new tie.

Normally, ties don’t need pressing with an iron. However, if all else fails and you either have to throw the tie away or press it, cut out a cardboard form that will fit tightly inside the tie. Slip the form in and then place the tie and form face down on the ironing board. Steam press the back of the tie. If the wrinkles still don’t come out, use an ironing cloth over the front of the tie and steam press the front. Be careful not to press the rounded edges; they should retain the soft roll shape that gives a tie body and makes it hang well. Ties are cut diagonally across the fabric grain so they will stay tied better, and pressing them without a tie form makes them curl and twist.

2. Spots: Have you ever thought your new silk tie was ruined because of a water spot on it? Don’t worry; just let it dry, then rub the spot briskly with the other end of the tie. Presto! No more water spot.

On hard-to-remove spots, hold the spotted area over the steam from a boiling kettle. Then apply a good cleaning fluid or spot remover. Rub the spot gently and in the direction of the weave, feathering the edges to help eliminate a definite dark-colored ring where the cleaner was applied.

3. Traveling: When traveling, fold ties in quarters and place one or two between a layer of shirts. It is best not to put ties on the bottom or top of the suitcase. If you have a hanging travel bag, hang ties over pants on the pants hangers.

Wider ties also cost more. Hence, considering design, fabric, and cost, creative persons are constructing their own neckwear at home.

It’s great!

Here are some tips to help you turn out a tie worth your time—and also wearable.

Pattern: Make your own pattern from a ready-made tie, if you are truly skilled and brave; but it is better to buy one in pattern departments. McCall’s has furnished us with appropriate data for this article.

Fabric: A firm but soft fabric will work up best and tie better. But anything from “tied ‘n’ dyed” (by you!) satin to no-iron denim goes, and that gamut includes double knits, hand-loomed wool, and orlon-dacron prints.

Lining and Interlining: Select these important fabrics according to the type of tie fabric you use. Washable ties need washable linings and interfacings. Heavier weight tie fabric demands a firmer facing, but stiff interlinings must be avoided. They don’t tie! Two layers of lighter interlining often work better than one heavier one. (Some use “windjammer” to interface.)

Have fun with linings. Contrast a print lining with plain tie fabric or the reverse. Do the same with bright and dark colors.

Sewing: First must: Cut your tie on the bias or cross grain, working on a flat surface to keep pieces from stretching. This is vital. Cutting on the straight of the goods saves fabric but ruins the tie, simply because the tie won’t have the give and stretch that it needs. Don’t be tempted to cut on the straight grain. It’s a common but costly error.

Hand sewing is the best construction method, but if you are careful you can seam the tie on the machine as well as stitch the interfacing to it.

Pressing: A beautiful tie looks good when it looks as if it has been folded, and not when it looks as if it was creased on the edges. Inserting a cardboard form in the shape of the tie works fine—or let the edge slip over the side of the ironing board. Remember, the tie is cut on the bias, so press with the grain to avoid stretching and “bubbling” the tie.

Professional Touches: For the million dollar tie look, slipstitch the center seam with invisible stitches and leave open two inches at each end. One inch from the ends of the tie, make a bar tack, being careful not to catch the interlining or lining. A bit of ribbon embroidered with his initials or your greeting can be stitched where the manufacturer’s label usually goes.

How to Tie a Tie

The Four-in-Hand Knot

1. Start with wide end of tie on your right extending about 12 inches below narrow end.

2. Cross wide end over narrow, and back underneath.

3. Continue around, passing wide end across front of narrow once more.

4. Pass wide end up through loop.

5. Holding front of knot loose with index finger, pass wide end down through loop in front.

6. Remove finger and tighten knot carefully. Draw up tight to collar by holding narrow end and sliding knot up snug.

The Half-Windsor Knot

1. Start with wide end of tie on your right extending about 12 inches below narrow end.

2. Cross wide end over narrow and turn back underneath.

3. Bring up and turn down through loop.

4. Pass wide end around front from left to right.

5. Then, up through loop …

6. And down through knot in front. Tighten carefully and draw up to collar.

The Windsor Knot

1. Start with wide end of tie on your right extending about 12 inches below narrow end.

2. Cross wide end over narrow and bring up through loop.

3. Bring wide end down, around behind narrow, and up on your right.

4. Then put down through loop and around across narrow as shown.

5. Turn and pass up through loop and …

6. Complete by slipping down through the knot in front. Tighten and draw up snug to collar.

[photos] Photographs by Eldon Linschoten

[photos] 1. Pattern is placed on the bias.

2. Bias seam joins tie pieces.

3. Be sure corners are sharp.

4. Use proper lining and interlining.

5. Fold, pin, and sew center seam.