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by Gianluca Isaia

8 JUNE 2016

'A cravatta a ppenniéll'
The Perfect Tie

by Gianluca Isaia

Who knows if those Croatian mercenaries during the Thirty Years War in the 17th century could have ever imagined that a strip of cloth which they used to ward off the cold on the battlefield would have become so successful over the centuries and been given the name cravatta (tie in Italian), which was a mispronunciation of the word croato (Croatian in Italian). A sign of distinction, an emblem of affiliation, a symbol of celebration or mourning, formalism or lightness, serious, quirky or amusing, the tie – in a solid color or with special patterns – is one of the very few adornments accorded to a man to express his flair and imagination.

Becoming suddenly popular thanks to a group of elegant courtiers at the court of Louis XIV of France, the tie was immediately transformed into a supreme caprice, embellished with frills, lace and jewels, made of precious silk in opulent hues as varied as the colors of the rainbow. The bourgeois 19th century arrived and gradually transformed the tie from the plastron and Lavaliere to the form currently in use. The tie – wide, narrow, the classic eight centimeter version, or the one with seven folds – is a universe, with countless suggestions on how to wear it.

In fact, the tie – that fundamental accessory and true element of fantasy in a man's wardrobe, especially in our Neapolitan tradition which has nothing to envy of acclaimed British tailoring – has its rules and sacrosanct reasons. Okay, I was joking with my little film based on the classic lookalike gag. You may have noticed that I like being an actor. However, trust me: I may be serious or facetious, but the things I tell you are real. First of all, a good tie must be cut at a 45 degree angle to prevent the fabric from twisting: that's a sacrosanct rule. Here's our little loop hanging from the lining, that must be pulled gently but firmly to smooth out any unattractive wrinkles due to use, pulling at the neck, or body heat. The thread used for stitching by hand – which is strictly unique and coral red – is another element that distinguishes us. In short, if your favorite tie is wrinkled, you must never ever use an iron, a torture instrument that could compromise its internal structure, squash its delicate padding or, worse yet, ruin the silky fabric.

To allow the fabric to relax, when you finally remove your tie in the evening, fold it accordion-style along the center, let it sit like this for a few hours and then smooth it out with your hands, with a bit of loving patience. At this point, roll the tie around your finger and then carefully sit it on your night stand to rest the entire night while you sleep undisturbed. In the morning your tie will be as good as new, almost like magic! Always remember that the simplest things – like preparing a delicious dish of spaghetti with tomato sauce – are indubitably the most complex and sophisticated.