Sunday, August 03, 2008

Purple and Yellow

OK, I have so many things to say about this tie that I hardly know where to begin. First, although you can't see it in the scan, it has an off-center construction on the reverse side as do all of the thirties ties I've posted.

However, this tie is lined, unlike the vast majority of the thirties specimens, and it doesn't have its pattern woven directly into the fabric the way those ties do. So I don't think this tie is thirties, but more likely forties. Its style, the design of the pattern, all of that, say forties to me.

Let's talk about that design. The deep purple shapes are like largish stylized leaves. On some of them, you can even see the stems. Because they are so large, no entire leaf shape appears anywhere on the tie. They are always continuing off the edges.

Each leaf has a few large yellow bubbles or spots on it. Generally three or four visible on the portion of the leaf that manages to fit onto the front of the tie. These yellow spots are themselves two-toned, with a darker egg yolk shade of yellow in the center, surrounded by a paler almost taupe color.

However, these spots or bubbles don't confine themselves to the leaves, but appear in the interstices separating the leaves as well. Except that some of the spots located in these interstitial areas have purple centers instead of the egg yolk colored ones.

Then, the rest of the leaf space is filled with additional bubble shapes in various sizes, consisting of nothing but the paler yellow background color outlines. That is, the space inside these bubbles is the same purple color of the leaves that flows around and between them.

All in all, it makes for a complicated and sophisticated design. The fabric itself also sports a brocaded effect which probably won't be very visible at all in the scan. The brocade pattern is difficult to make out, even with the tie in hand, due to the contrasting dark and light colors on the surface of the tie, but it appears to consist of circular sprays of small paisley shaped leafy figures.

OK, now let's talk about the shape of the tie. If you look at the small end, you'll notice how dramatically it flares out towards the end. The large end lacks this flaring effect, but one can't help wonder if it had a similar flare at one time, and suffered its removal for the purpose of narrowing the width of the tie as styles changed. The tie is about 3 1/16 inches in width at its widest point, and 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 inches are more typical widths for classic forties ties.

Not to mention that the tie, when unfolded in back, has fully an inch and 3/4 of fabric that is folded under, and which narrows rapidly, such that merely 4 inches up the tie, there is barely half an inch of folded under fabric. If this tie were unsewn in back, and refolded, the wide end could be made to flare out in a fashion equally as dramatic as is seen on the narrow end, and I can't help but wonder if this was the tie's original shape.

There is enough fabric to make it almost 5 1/2 inches in width, and although I have never found a tie that wide in my personal collecting, I have seen one or two zoot suit ties that are even wider. So it is presumably not impossible to imagine, although I really don't know for sure. I wish someone from that time period could confirm to me whether or not it was customary to "cut down" wide ties through refolding, resewing, etc. to make them conform to a later less flamboyant cut.

OK, that's just about enough discussion of this tie, I think. Just one last detail, the label. One label is sewn into the small end, and it reads as follows:

Jacquard Crepe
Exclusive fabric
Resilient construction


MSegers said...

I have some old ties that have had surgery on them; they have extra fabric folded under, the seam is off-center, and they have odd flares. I wonder if the leaves on yours originally ran off the edges of the tie? I wish my old ties could talk.

Will said...


I'm sure you must be right. Looking at the scanned image of my tie just now, I noticed something else that somehow had escaped my attention up till now. That is, the tie is uneven. The left side running down to the point is shorter than the right side. Another clear evidence that the tie was reshaped at some point.

You're right, wouldn't it be great if old ties could tell some of their stories! Thanks for your comment.