The evolution of the recent of necktie renaissance has went something like this:
- White collar-ish jobs stop requiring a collar, let alone a tie.
- Once a bit prosaic, wearing a tie suddenly helps you stand out in a world of barren shirt collars.
- Really rakish guys embrace the slim and skinny tie, which helps them stand out in style scrums. (Unless you are at a Mad Men themed party, in which case the only way a man could differentiate himself from the pack was staying sober as Freddie Rumsen.)
- Many (save ESPN on-air talent) become aware of the trend. Brooks Brothers. The Express. The Jonas Brothers. Slim ties are approaching ubiquity, which helps raise aggregate sartorial standard for men, but from an individual perspective, men who like differentiating themselves have lost one more piece of their wardrobe to populism.
And this how we arrive at my favorite tie of the last year: The Hillside selvedge chambray necktie. These ties’ style is derived from their texture, and their texture comes from being constructed of Japanese selvedge chambray, which looks like lived-in denim but doesn’t have denim’s weight. The Hillside’s texture is visible before you touch it, making it the rare tie that looks as interesting as it feels.
Hillside ties are a slim 2-inches wide and have a squared bottom with a thin stripe of white at the southern most tip of the tie. When you combine it’s visual and textural features, the selvedge chambray tie looks rugged, rebellious and refined. Which is why everyone from MFA students to dressed-up cowboys can pull them off.
J. Crew started carrying these Hillside ties and selling them online, but your best bet is to pick one up at Penelope’s on Division Street in Wicker Park. Yeah, at $83 these ties are more than we’d usually advocate spending on neckwear. But you want at least one tie in your wardrobe that’s probably cooler than you, because eventually people might start thinking you are as cool as your tie. The Hillside in “Kyoto violet” is in our favorite, although the grey and red-clay colored ones picture to the left will go with anything in your wardrobe, while you keeping you from looking like anyone else sporting a tie.