Anthony T. Kirby, the stylish haberdasher who caters to style needs of the fashion-challenged, is a rarity in these days of mass production. That suits the 38-year-old designer just fine. A fashion history buff, Kirby designs menswear inspired by the 1930s and 1940s. “The romantic era” of men’s furnishings, as he calls it, featured high-waisted trousers, pocket squares, and jaunty hats (think Langston Hughes).
If the suit makes the man, then according to Kirby, owner of Anthony T. New York Dress Furnishings, the right tie is what makes the suit. “Neckwear is one of the most personal items of any gentleman’s wardrobe; it just sets off the whole ensemble.”
To avoid tying yourself up in knots, follow Kirby’s timeless tips for choosing and preserving your cravat:
Be a collector. A well-dressed man should have at least 20 ties to begin with, then add two or three a month, Kirby says. That way the ties can be rotated.
Know your fabrics. There are two methods of creating patterned fabrics: jacquard, in which the pattern is woven into the material, and printed, in which the pattern is screened onto the fabric. Kirby prefers jacquard because of its weight and richness. He also likes Mogador, a mix of cotton and silk. “It ties up beautifully, [and] when you lay the colors on that kind of fabric, it pops.”
Watch the fold. As for construction, ties are either lined or folded. Luxury ties may feature five-fold or seven-fold construction, in which the ties are folded as many times upon themselves. “It costs more because you’re using the actual silk as the lining,” Kirby says. “But the workmanship [of handmade ties] is great. It’s an Old World way of making ties.”
Wear it well. A tie should never lie flat. For a look that’s lively and pronounced, it should arch with a dimple in the fold, right under the knot.
Treat it gently. Pulling and tugging when removing the tie will eventually break the delicate stitching that holds it together. Loosen the knot first, then untie, reversing the steps used to tie it. Roll it up -narrow end to wide -and store it in an accessory drawer. That will keep the tie’s shape.
Avoid cleaning. If you spill food on your tie, immediately dab the spot with club soda or water. If you wait, it may be too late to safely remove the spot without staining or discoloring the fabric. If at all possible, avoid having your ties dry-cleaned, which can discolor the fabric. If you must have it dry-cleaned, find a place that specializes in cleaning ties.
Consult an expert. Kirby’s ties range from $85 to $125. His service includes a customized CD featuring photographs of various looks to help the busy professional prepare for whatever the day may bring. For an appointment, call 718-783-2570. Visit www.anthonytkirby.com for online shopping opportunities.